VBAC - Vaginal Birth After C-section, Anyone Done This?

Updated on July 17, 2009
M.B. asks from Laguna Hills, CA
31 answers

Hello - I'm due with our 2nd child in about 5 weeks and trying to make the decision between another c-section, or trying to go vaginal (VBAC). We tried all natural birth last time, but our birth plan went out the window & I had to have a c-section. My doctor & hospital are totally fine with VBACs but unfortunately my doctor isn't much help, and says we need to make the decision that's best for us since I've got about a 50/50 chance of being able to go natural considering my history. But after going online to many medical websites and reading pros/cons & statistics, it sounds like there are big risks both ways. I don't personally know anyone who has had a vaginal birth after a c-section. If you have, can you please tell me what helped you make that decision, or anything you think might help me make mine? Thanks ladies!!!

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C.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

HI,
Just another success story. I had my first dd at age 38 and she was a c-section. My second dd was born at age 42!!!! She was a planned c-section.. She came early so my doctor and we decided we would try VBAC if everything was going o.k. and if it looked like problems we would go back to c-section. Everything was fine and she came VBAC!! we were soo excited!!!

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M.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello M.,
I have been working in Labor & Delivery for 14 years, and will share some experience with you. You are very lucky that they still do VBAC's in your city since they do not allow them in many places because it is too risky. I am assuming that your 3 year old was your c-section. Everybody's body heals differently, and it is hard to say how well your uterus has recovered from your previous c/s. Sometimes if it did not, during labor, those suture lines on your uterus can start to open which can cause you to have an emergency c-section if your uterus is abrupting. It is hard to tell how bad until they are in doing the c/s. And if it started to, the uterus might be okay, but if not, you could end up with a hysterectomy. The uterus needs to get hard when the baby is out. If it does not, it becomes very floppy and bleeds out a lot to the point where they need to take it out. VBAC's can sometimes cause this. If you do decide to go with a c/s, your doctor, anesthesiologist, and the entire surgical team "MUST" be readily available to do an emergency c/s. (Meaning, they are not having to come in from home to do this). Every minute counts when that baby is still inside during fetal distress.
What was the reason for your first c/s? Did you stop dilating? Do you plan on more children?
Depending how well you heal inside, and if there is not much scarring, typically you can have 3-4 c/s, but not more than 4. So those are some things to think about. You might have to decide if you want to have a planned c/s, which most of the time runs smoothly or opt to go for a VBAC that can go fine but can end up in a emergency. FYI, depending how much of an emergency the c/s would need to be done if you are going VBAC, they can easily put you to sleep because there might not be time to put a spinal anesthetic in you. So you will not be awake when your baby is born, and they will not let your husband in on a c/s if they put you to sleep, so he too will not be there when the baby is taken out of you. Lots to think about. Go with your instincts. I wish you the best of luck! Let me know what you ended up doing.

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K.B.

answers from Reno on

I have had a vbac, they were several years apart but it was wonderful. I had a mid-wife who had me doing squats several times a day to help spread my pelvis about 50% more than not doing them. It is always nice to know if there is a complication the c section option is there, but recover time is a lot shorter and I was able to function with in hours instead of days. I pray all goes well with you.

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A.N.

answers from Las Vegas on

I know of a woman who had a VBAC with her 6th child (she had the other 4 naturally, and then ended up with a c-section on the 5th). She actually had planned a VBAC home birth, it ended up being a transfer (I think she actually decided she needed pain killers), and she had the baby right after she got to the hospital (without the pain killers).

I personally would go for the vaginal birth. I had a natural home birth with my now 10 month old son, and it was amazing. I think people really miss out on the experience when they have c-section. Of course, I also think women miss out when in a hospital, birth doesn't have to be a horrible and painful experience, we sort of make it that way for ourselves.

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T.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.,

My first daughter was a c-section because she was breech. Three years later I had my second daughter via vbac and what a difference! The recovery was nothing compared to the c-section.

There is a risk of uterine rupture with vbac, but the honest truth is that the risk is less than 1% (according to my OB), and goes down the longer it's been since the c-section.

I HIGHLY recommend vbac if you can do it. I went into the second birth hoping for a vbac but mentally prepared just in case I had to go through a c-section again. I feel very fortunate that I was able to deliver vaginally the second time. I was walking right away, was able to drive & most importantly take care of my new baby. None of those things were possible for me after the c-section.

Best of luck to you for a quick and painless delivery!!

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S.H.

answers from Honolulu on

Whatever you decide... a "planned" c-section has to be performed at 2-weeks BEFORE a woman's due date...and this also means scheduling it in with the Hospital to make sure they and your Doctor is available at that day.

Next, I've had 2 c-sections... the first one being an emergency because I would not dilate all the way even with the help of meds, and the 2nd c-section I had was my choice.

My OB/GYN, personally does not recommend VBAC's... he says that it is risky and in his experience, the Mom can rupture, or have internal hemorrhaging and both Mom and baby can be lost. If it were his own wife, he would not recommend it. This is coming from a long time, very highly rated & respected OB/GYN in my city. It also depends on whether you had a vertical or horizontal cut line previously.... many factors. But nowadays, the vertical cut is not done often.

Anyway, after thinking about it, and in talking with my Hubby... I decided to go with having a c-section, the second time around. I would have been more scared/worried about having a VBAC.... even though I know there are women who have chosen that option.

Also, even though your Doctor and hospital may condone it... you should make SURE that your medical insurance will cover it. Some do not, with a VBAC.

And yes, ultimately your Doctor cannot make the decision for you. Or he will be liable for anything. Birthing choices are a very personal choice.

All the best,
Susan

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M.T.

answers from San Diego on

Hi, I am a 34 yr old mom of 2 boys (4 & 19 mo.) I had a VBAC w/my second son and had a wonderful experience. We decided to have a c-section during labor when we learned that my 1st son was "sunny-side up" and we couldn't turn him. The second time around there was no reason not to have a vaginal birth. Everything went really well. I know it is a scary decision and every situation is different. This was my experience, but just remember, no matter which way you give birth, a healthy baby in the end IS the ultimate goal! Good luck.

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D.G.

answers from San Diego on

I'm surprised the doctors aren't telling you it's fine to have a vaginal after c-section. It is. That's how I did it due to my first being butt first. My second I had vaginal, needed a little help getting his head all the way out,no problems. Don't think you have have to do c-section just because you did it before. I wouldn't have 2 c-sections unless absolutely necessary. Don't worry, go with want you really want to do. D. G

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A.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have not gone through a VBAC. I was in your shoes prior to delivering my second child, and considered it. My doctor said that she doesn't do them, and I would have to switch hospitals because my hospitals don't do them either. She told me some scary statistics - I took them with a grain of salt, knowing both options have their risks, but her comments did dissuade me from the VBAC. After considering both sides, I felt I would be more comfortable with another C-section, personally.

I'm sure others will get angry reading this, but in retrospect I think sometimes the decision to have a VBAC is a selfish one. You are already the parent of one child, and it's your responsibility to do the safest thing to keep yourself alive for that child. Sometimes people are so stubborn about wanting to go through the "glorious" experience of a natural birth, but that desire is selfish - it doesn't benefit the other members of your family in any way, and it doesn't benefit your baby.

I'm not a medical professional so I don't know if VBACs are more risky or not, and I'm sure the risk is different for each person. But IF your doctor says it's too risky, it's not worth it for your own selfish desire.

Yes I momentarily felt like a failure after having my first child by emergency C-section. Now that I've had 2 C-sections, I'm over feeling that way. I don't feel any less of a woman or any less accomplished. I have 2 great kids that I was able to bond with from hour 1. And the recovery from the second C-section was way faster than the first time.

By the way, it is not accurate that a scheduled C-section HAS to be 2 weeks before the due date. The date is something you and doctor decide on together based on various factors. I had mine 10 days before my due date, and my friend had hers 4 or 5 days before the due date.

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K.C.

answers from Las Vegas on

Wow you got a lot of responses. And I'm sure a lot of conflicting info, I didn't have time to read them all.
I've had five children, most with a midwife. My 4th baby was to be a home birth, however he was a footling breech so I went to hospital for an unscheduled c-section. It was horrible to recover from surgery and try to care for a newborn and other kids. I got to say "bonding" with a baby that you don't really see or feel coming out of your body is strange. Since this wasn't my first baby I knew how I should be feeling, I was on automatic pilot for days. C-sections are not without great risks. I had bad side effects from the anesthesia. So how I was to deliver my last(5th) baby was up in the air pretty much until the last minute. I was in a hospital with a great old school doctor and friend to local midwives who was all about letting me try a VBAC. I had a wonderful vaginal birth, on my 40th birthday! What a smooth recovery, me and my baby felt great and were able to get on with life. So I say to you learn all you can and sincerly try for a VBAC. If mother nature has other plans and a c-section become necessary go with it and don't beat youself up about it. Also know this, that doctor and hospitals are all about protecting themselves from lawsuits. So you must be educated and informed, you are your best advocate!
Please share with us how everything goes.
Good luck, K.

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J.V.

answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi M.. My sister in law had an initial c-section due to placental previa. She had an ectopic pregnancy after that, which blew out one of her fallopian tubes. We were pleasantly surprised when she got pregnant again.

She planned to have a vaginal birth, and pushed a long time vaginally. However after a long time, they had to do a c-section. My niece was over 10 lbs- which was why after pushing for long time, they had to do a c-section. I never saw such a big baby.

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P.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.,

I have never had a c-section, but I attended meetings for the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) during my second pregnancy because my doctor was urging me to have one. I was able to avoid a c-section because I went to ICAN and got the information and support I needed. To reach the one here in Ventura, send an email to: [email protected]____.com
I'm not sure where you're located, but I'll bet they can help you find a chapter where you are, or just give you the support you need online.

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C.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., I had a VBAC! The thing that I thought was crazy is that you have to sign a release whether you want to try VBAC or if you want to go C sec. again... like either way you have to pick one! Anyhow... Your story sounds the same as me... I wanted to go natural with # 1, but he did not cooperate and needed C sec. For me... I really did want to go natural with my births so it was important to me to try to go VBAC... plus I figured.... if there are any problems during the birth and they needed to ... they would just take the baby C sec if needed like they did with the first one. I did not look at any websites for pros/ cons and am curious now as to what they say are pro's and cons... as it seems to me they would be the same as with ANY birth... your first or fourth... they alwasys say there are risks. I would think if you wanted to go natural for the first one.. try to experience that with your second... if it is not possible, the doctors will do what is best for you and the baby and go C Sec. For me, I am very glad I went with VBAC. Good luck! Cindy

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

While thankfully I haven't needed a C-section, I will recommed a great book that goes over the benefits and risks. "The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth" by Henci Goer has sooooo much information about birth including VBACs. I recommend it to all my pg friends. She takes all the medical studies and puts all the pertinent information in a readable format.

Good luck with your decision.

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T.O.

answers from Los Angeles on

VBAC's are much safer than people are led to believe. The big concern with it is having the uterus rupture during labor. In fact only 0.4% of the time does this happen, and most of those are women who were induced, especially with Cytotec. Please look up www.VBACfacts.com You will find more information, plus personal storied of women who went with a VBAC. The risks associated with repeat C-section are actually much higher than those of a VBAC as with any repeat major abdominal surgery. Good luck in your decision, and I wish you the best labor with a positive experience!

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S.A.

answers from Honolulu on

My best friend just had a VBAC and everything went perfectly! Her labor was pretty short too, considering that it was the first time her body actually went through labor (she had a planned c-section the first time).

However, it all depends on WHY you had a c-section the first time. If it is an issue with your body (for example, you just wouldn't dilate, or something like that) then there IS a good chance that this problem will re-occur. Not 100% for sure, but still a good chance.

If your doctor says it's 50/50 anyways, then I would say give it a try if you feel you can handle it, but be PREPARED for the POSSIBILITY of another c-section, just in case.

Best of luck to you and Congrats!

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K.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

I had my first son vaginally, my second was breech so I had to have a C-section, and then I had my third vaginally. I did not have any complications and delivered her rather quickly. I think it's up to you, your husband, and your doctor. You may also want to come up with some guidelines on when he may do the C-section this time. Like if you are in labor for X amount of time or whatever you had happen last time. The recovery is obviously easier than a C-section and with another child that may factor into it, too.
Best of luck!

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L.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

I had to havr a c-section the second time around. I asked my Dr and he stright out said he would not rec it due to the fact my first was an emerg Csection because I never dilated past a 3 and we do not know why-so he rec not risking it again. I had no arguments as it was for the safety of my baby. Also depending on where you are having the baby they may not allow you to do a VBAC-u may want to check w/them. I would think your Dr would have given you a better response than that. I am sure you will get alot of responses on both sides of the fence on this one, but for me I went w/what my Dr rec as I know he did it for the safety of my baby. But it all boils down to yourself-what do you feel is right-everyone is different and you did not mention why yo had a csection the first time.Once again just my opinion.Hope it helps. L.

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A.N.

answers from Los Angeles on

I didn't read what everyone else wrote, but my aunt had 6 kids, natural, c-section, natural, c-section, c-section, natural. She's fine, all the kids are fine. There are pros and cons for both, do what makes YOU comfortable. Good luck!

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K.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

i did with my second successfully but was told it was not a good idea to do it again so with my 3rd i had a scheduled c-section. I had made my mind up this was the last baby so when,during the operation, i was told there was so much scar tissue i should not have any more children it was not a problem. i have no idea if it was because of the VBAC or not. thankfully they went ahead and tied my tubes.
i had a great experience both ways it was only the first that the c-section was an emergency after 4hrs of pushing that i had a hard time with. My suggestion is know when your ready to go ahead with the surgery. my limit was one hour of pushing. i knew i could progress but my first baby was just too big. the second i was 4 weeks early and he was over a pound smaller so it worked out for me. i probably could have done the third natural but i wanted my tubes tied and with 2 others at home i needed a definite time to have help scheduled.
there is recovery any way you have a baby i didn't think i recovered that much faster after the VBAC i just hurt in a different spot & wet my pants for about 6 weeks but my tummy returned much smaller even better than it had been before i got pregnant with the second. i am glad i had the experience but again know your limit. don't hurt yourself and make your recovery that much longer.
As for the bonding issue i did not notice a difference actually the 2 I has c-section are very loving and aware it was not hard at all to bond with any of my children although the child i did have naturally was diagnosed with autism. I know this is unrelated of course but each child is different so put yourself in the position to be able to be the best mom for them, be prepared and have lots of help on hand either way.
Good luck and congratulations!!!! 2 is a lot of fun

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S.M.

answers from Fayetteville on

I had a vbac, everything went fine. This was a hard decision for me also, I was scared that something was going to go wrong. But after talking to my doctor looking at the statistics of the possibility of things going wrong, I decided to go for it. I was kinda bummed out after my c-section, it was my first child and I was kinda looking forward to the experience and not being knocked out and remembering almost nothing because things were going wrong. I have never once regretted my decision. But this is something you also need to talk to your doctor. For your situation and your body does your doctor think it is safe. Do you think the risks (either way) is acceptable? There is a lot to consider, good luck.

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R.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have. 2 singles and 1 set of twins. I think it all depends on the reason for the c section. For me it was failure to progress and the baby showing signs of stress. If there is no medical reason that requires a c section you could always try for the vbac but if needed go to the c section. Just prepair yourself for both.

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G.Y.

answers from San Diego on

My fourth child was an emergency c-section. 17 months later I gave birth to my son naturally. Oh the hospital tried to talk me into another c-section, but I wouldn't allow it. I had a beautiful baby boy naturally, and everything turned out wonderful !!! He is now 24 years old, and my baby. :)

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M.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.

You might look into getting some work done on your abdomen beforehand by someone certified in Arvigo Maya Abdominal Massage. I took a seminar class on it at the American Massage Therapist Association convention in March and was impressed with their deep knowledge of things woman, things to do with the uterus and how much they have been able to help women with abdominal issues. Here's a website you can visit to get more information. http://arvigomassage.com/

You could also receive help through massage therapy, prior to, and in particlar, during labor to help the labor be more effective. You would of course want to choose a massage therapist who specializes in pregnancy massage, because special training is required. Not as an endorsement because I am not personally familiar with this firm, but from an information gathering source, you might check out this website as they have a lot of information on VBAC: http://aquanatalbirthcenter.com/home.php

I also ran across a Women's Birth Network that might lead you to some good information. http://www.childbirths.com/network.htm

Best regards

M.

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C.V.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., congrats on your 2nd. I had a VBAC with my 2nd daughter after 1st was emergency c-section (felt back to normal after 10 dys of c-section) It was a wonderful experience with the VBAC. My daughters are 2 yrs apart & MD said this was sufficient time for VBAC. I had an epidural after petocin didn't work past 6cm & from the time of the epidural to my daughters birth was such a pleasant experience! There was a mirror, so I was able to see as I was pushing & I'm glad that I was able to experience both types of deliveries. I healed so quickly, even though I tore a lot & felt better within 2 days. Sometimes the unkown is scary & people often go with what they know, so take some time to consider both & either way, your little one will be here very soon & all this will be behind you :) C.

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J.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

M. -

I had a VBA2C 16 months ago, and would do it again in a heartbeat. I would take the time to weigh the pros and the cons of both a vaginal birth and a c/s. Once I honestly did that research and reading for myself and not just taking my doctor's word one everything I found that a vaginal birth was safer for me. This is a such a personal decision and something where you need to take responsibility for the birth. If you were to choose a VBAC I would caution you to avoid any interventions in your birth: water broken by staff; pitocin used, any induction drugs as it can cause severe problems with the uterus, and try to stay away from the hospital as long as possible by laboring at home so you can be left alone and at peace while your body does the natural thing. If after searching your heart and soul and doing your research you choose to have a c/s, I would encourage you to allow baby to pick his/her own birthday by going into labor first. That way you know that baby is truly ready to join this world and the likelyhood of a NICU stay would be drastically smaller. Some women go to 38 weeks, while others go all the way to 42 weeks. This is a window of time and so automatically taking the baby at 38 weeks for some babies could mean that they are 4 weeks early, which can cause major problems, especially with lung development.
I wish you the best in making your decision. If you want more info you can also visit ican-online.org. Or you can email me privately if you would like more info on VBACs. Most of all, enjoy this time where you get to nestle your little one next to your heart for a few more weeks.

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S.W.

answers from Santa Barbara on

I have not personally experienced a VBAC, but I had three natural births before having a C section. My experience left me feeling like I had not given birth, and it took me longer to bond with my newborn. Today we couldn't be closer, but I remember it as if I had to make a concerted effort to make him feel loved. He was not nearly as affectionate as the other children, never wanting me to hold his hand, etc. He was this way with everyone, not just me. I have always blamed it on the fact that he was not born vaginally, but also knowing that this is scientifically not possible. I have friends that have had VBAC and all has gone well. Knowing there are risk to both procedures, I would choose a natural birth as long as the doctor agrees that it is safe for you. If your C section was due to a physical problem and not one related to the child itself, then I would choose the C section.

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S.B.

answers from San Diego on

Hi M.-

I had a VBAC and am so glad that I did! Like you, my husband and I wanted natural child birth with my first child but she ended up going into distress and I had an emergency c-section. With my son's pregnancy, I really wanted to go the natural route, if I could and it was safe, so I did tons of research and spoke with my doctor to see if I was a candidate for a VBAC. He told me that I was but he wanted to reserve the right to do a c-section if he deemed necessary. So I wrote out a birth plan stating what I wanted and that I was willing to have the c-section in case of an emergency. The Dr. signed it and I signed it, and I made tons of copies. WHen I was in labor and went to the hospital I gave it to the check-in and they assigned me a nurse that believed in VBACS as well. I had agreed to let them put the IV line in , just in case. The IV wasn't connected to anything, but like I said, just in case. I had read that the more intervention reduces the chances of a vbac so I refused pitossin and pain killers. I also hired a doula so she was there to help me as well. I did have my VBAC and it was really cool. I actually knew exactly when I was at 10cm and rolled over to push in the position that I knew what my body needed, just instinctual.

I did have friend's telling me that their Dr's have the philosophy "once a c-section, always a c-section." and one friend & her husband sent me all these horror stories with all these facts. She actually seemed insulted and aso mad that I was considering a vbac! I do apprciate that philosophy, just I found the other sides research as well and my Dr. was fine with vbacs.

Good luck, you'll make the right decision for you and your family!

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H.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.,

I had two VBAC's after having a C-section. My first child was a vaginal birth. My C-section was due to my baby turning at the last second and he had a larger head than my body could get out. It was a bit scary making the decision after reading all the facts, but my doctor assured me that if it looked like the baby or I were in trouble at any time they would switch to a c-section. The doctor did not induce me at all with the two following births since it puts more strain on the uterus. They were also a lot more "natural" than my first child. I ended up not having much pain meds for the last two. They needed me to feel if anything was not going well, and my labor was further along when we got to the hospital. Those births were actually easier without the inductions and the pain medication. I recovered faster and the babies were happier. For me it really comes down to why did you need the c-section in the first place, and how big is the baby looking. I felt it was better to try for the vbac, and then opt for the c-section if needed. Best of luck on your choice and congratulations on the upcoming birth!!!

H.

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T.

answers from Las Vegas on

M.,

I had a VBAC with my second child (10-14-06. My c-section was 9-11-03. I wanted the VBAC because the risk of death from the c-section is higher than the risk of uterine rupture with a VBAC (which is actually not much higher than the risk of uterine rupture without a previous c-section). People talk about c-sections like they are nothing but they are major surgery. I had a rough recovery from mine and I didn't want to go home from the hospital with a newborn and a 3 year old at home and have the recovery of a c-section again. With my second child, I went to the hospital around 10 p.m. At midnight they broke my water, I got my epidural and my son was born at 4 a.m. I was up walking around at 7 a.m. and I felt like a million dollars. It was NOTHING like what I experienced with a c-section. I was obviously a bit sore but it wasn't bad. I could get in and out of bed, I could pick up my son without pain. Personally, I had a great VBAC experience. My doctor told me I could try to go VBAC and I could change my mind at any point (I had no intention of that unless there was a good medical reason for it). She also assured me if there was a problem they could have me knocked out and the baby out in 3 minutes flat.

If you really don't want another c-section, don't let them induce you. It increases your risk of a repeat c-section dramatically and it also increases your risk of uterine rupture.

I figured if there was a medical reason I needed another c-section I'd do it. But if there wasn't, there was no way I was signing up in advance.

Good luck,
T.

H.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

After an emergency C-section, I felt like such a failure in the birthing department. I am now preg. with my second and my hospital will do VBAC. Now that I've really had some time to let it all settle in, I realize I don't have to prove anything by pushing a baby out. I still feel tinges of jealousy when I hear stories of other women pushing that baby out, it seems so honorable and heroic to me. But setting all that aside, I feel the C-section is the right choice for me because I don't need to risk the VBAC when I someone else's mother so I can have the birthing experience. Also, women get a lot of problems from the trauma to their perineum. You all ready have the C-section scar, why face bladder incontinence and a list of other issues that come from vaginal birth? My sister says her V has never been the same since vaginal birth. Those are my thoughts, but I was right there a year ago looking into VBACS. If you really really need that birthing experience do it. I've let it go.

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