To VBAC or not to VBAC?

mummy and baby son

When I was pregnant with my firstborn Olly, I (very naively) imagined I would have a stress-free delivery and I’d be home from hospital with my beautiful baby boy within hours drinking tea and enjoying the newborn bubble people speak of. How wrong I was? I was induced due to reduced movements and ended up having an emergency caesarean 24 hours later. You can read Olly’s birth story here. It was a very traumatic experience and it’s only recently, opening up about it all and what went on, I’ve realised how I’ve bottled it all up and shut the door on it all, until now. 

Baby Olly

With baby boy due in early January, I’m now SIX months pregnant (this pregnancy is flying by!) I was recently invited to my local hospital to attend their VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) clinic. It was a chance to discuss my previous labour / delivery experience and to talk through the options for baby boy’s entrance into the world.

To say I was nervous was an understatement. My lovely Mom came with me as my husband Shilts was unable to come with me. I’m grateful for her support as she was there as my second birth partner when I was in labour with Olly and she’s remembered things in better detail than I have (I blame the drugs!)

I met with a really lovely midwife who gave me plenty of chance to talk, get things off my chest and let me cry a few tears. She asked me if I had any preference of baby boy’s arrival and being honest, I’m still really undecided. I had an absolutely awful experience with induction. Olly wasn’t ready to be born, he wanted to stay put and having the induction drugs to induce labour wasn’t pleasant. My body went from absolutely no contractions at all to really painful contractions that left me feeling unable to cope. There was no time to get used to what a contraction felt like, it was just unnatural and incredibly painful. If I’m certain of anything for baby boy’s arrival, it’s that I definitely don’t want to be induced. I know they can work perfectly well for other people but not for me.

Baby Boy Mummy

The midwife explained that I have two options; to plan an elective caesarean (which will only be done at 39 weeks at the earliest unless any pregnancy complications) or await a spontaneous labour and get the VBAC. I am not afraid of pain and I would like to experience a VBAC delivery, not for the trophy or glory of having ‘done it’ naturally but for the benefits of having a quicker recovery period, not having major surgery and potentially going home quicker to settle in as a family of four. When I had my caesarean, I had to stay in hospital for 2 days and my surgery scar got infected. Not to mention the joys of having to inject clexane (anti-clotting drug) for six weeks post surgery.

After discussing lots of options, I left the hospital feeling undecided about going for a VBAC or not, but knowing that I have a choice for his birth which is always a good thing. An elective section isn’t the easier option by any means but it may reduce my fear of something going terribly wrong in labour. I know when baby boy would be born and I could still get skin-to-skin with him in theatre. I have an amazing support network around me so there would be plenty of help should we need it.

With the hospitals support, I don’t have to make a decision about a VBAC or elective section right away. I can think about the risks and benefits and weigh up what is right for me, my baby boy and my family. I’m swayed to book an elective section at 40 weeks should baby boy not arrive before then to eliminate the induction option. I’m pretty dead against an induction for any future deliveries. I’m hopeful of a spontaneous delivery with baby boy wanting to make his appearance with a natural delivery (plus all the pain relief I’m offered, ha!) and hope that as many other women do, have a good VBAC experience.

There’s lots to discuss with Shilts and thankfully plenty of time to discuss the options with my consultant and ask more questions should I think of them. To VBAC or not to VBAC?

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  • Reply Nicky Galloway 23/09/2017 at 9:46 am

    I could almost have written this myself! I had a very traumatic labour with my first, lost a lot of blood and was in hospital for 5 days and like you induction was horrific, I knew I couldn’t do that again. My hospital pushed me to go for a VBAC, in the end I agreed that, up to 40 weeks I would go with whatever happened but after that I wanted an elective section as I couldn’t cope with being induced again! Anyway he decided to stay firmly put so I ended up with a section at 40+1. Good luck with your decision. xxx

    • Reply Emma 23/09/2017 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks for your comment Nicky, I’m sorry to hear you had an awful time of it for your first delivery. I’m pretty dead against an induction again so really hopeful baby boy will come of his own accord. But if he doesn’t I know I’ll be in good hands x

  • Reply Boo Roo and Tigger Too 23/09/2017 at 3:00 pm

    I opted for a VBAC with Tigger following an emergency section with Roo. The hospital were supportive in my decision. Luckily, I went into labour at 40+1 with him, however, like his sister he got stuck in the birth canal and I ended up with another emergency section. Following that I was advised that my pelvis was not built for birthing babies and any further children would be an elective section – which is what Piglet was. I have to say that the elective section was completely different from an emergency and I was able to recover much quicker.

    • Reply Emma 23/09/2017 at 6:12 pm

      It’s good to hear that an elective section recovery is much quicker, I wonder if it’s because it’s not as traumatic as an emergency section and you’re not under as much stress xx

  • Reply farmerswifeandmummy 24/09/2017 at 5:58 am

    It’s such a huge decision. I had one vaginal birth and one section and I really wanted a vbac with my third. I had an induction with. Y first but they broke my waters so it was a more positive experience for me. Unfortunately, it was taken out of my hands and I had a planned caesarean at 37 weeks with number 3 and even that was a better experience than the last one. It might be worth writing down all the pros and cons. Good luck eeeekkkk

  • Reply LJ (@thebigeejit) 27/09/2017 at 8:59 pm

    My SiL had a similar experience the other way round – a very traumatic natural birth during which she tore badly and had ongoing problems for months (anxiety, problems breastfeeding, needing physio etc) She was told by a consultant that there is no way she could give birth naturally again so was booked for a c-section. She said it was a dream compared to first time, easier healing, quicker recovery, she breastfed for nearly a year etc. Now I know the 2 situations are different (I think the probs first time were because she is so petite and her baby was big, second one even bigger!) but I guess I am saying that a VBAC may not necessarily have a quicker recovery time esp if you tear. Likewise a c-section won’t necessarily be the same as last time with the infections etc. So if your gut is telling you to have an elective section to avoid induction then don’t be put off thinking that a VBAC will be easier. If that makes sense? Hope you get some clarity and that your instinct helps you to make a decision. I also believe preparation is so important, I’ve recommended Daisy Birthing to you before so perhaps look into some classes that can help you feel empowered and positive. Lots of love to you xxxxxxxxx

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