• Wed, Mar 28 2012

I’m So Happy I Didn’t Let My Doctor Talk Me Into Having A Second C-Section

VBACLeah Marshall originally wanted a vaginal birth for her first baby. But like a lot of first-time mommies, she encountered several problems during delivery that ultimately did lead to an emergency c-section. Her baby turned out to be quite large, weighing nine pounds and six ounces and positioned “sunny side up” causing her cervix to swell up instead of open. Her contractions were also very abnormal with “double peaking,” even after the pitocin arrived. Leah tells me that at the time, doctors were unaware that all of these factors were perhaps caused by her son’s size, his positioning, or a combination of both.

After a successful c-section brought her son into the world, Leah’s doctors suggested that she default c-sections on all future additions to her family. But even though vaginal birth carries some risks following an initial c-section, Leah committed to a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) to achieve the birth experience that she wanted.

When Leah became pregnant with her second baby, she started to experience many of the uncomfortable symptoms she remembered with her first pregnancy. During both pregnancies, she suffered from severe inflammation and pain in her public symphysis, which was relieved by routine visits to a chiropractor.

“[With my first pregnancy], I was often unable to walk more than from the couch to the bathroom, and I knew that would never do when I had a preschooler to chase as well,” she remembers. “The chiropractor believed that whatever structural abnormalities led to my pain probably impacted my labor.”

Leah describes her general practitioner as “disapproving” of both her choice to attempt a VBAC but also her interest is seeking out midwives for her prenatal care. Her mother-in-law, a labor and delivery nurse for over 20 years, also initially expressed concern, convinced that Leah was unaware of the risks. There was also the assumption from friends and acquaintances that she was “some sort of deluded hippie feminist” for taking an active decision in her birth.

“While I am often deluded, have a few hippie tendencies, and am certainly a feminist, I am also a fairly typical suburban mom,” she says. “Mostly the attitude seemed to be that was I taking a ridiculous risk, and I should just trust that the doctors who wanted me to have a second c-section knew better. And while I was really committed to a trial of labor, I can’t claim that as my due date drew near, I wasn’t terrified that I was making a terrible decision.”

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  • The Mommy Psychologist

    Great job! It is very difficult to talk doctors into allowing a VBAC. We had a horrible time trying to get our doc on board for an unmedicated birth. But I held my ground because it was important to me. Glad to hear things went well for you.

    “The child psychologist who thought she had all the answers to parenting until she became one herself.” http://www.themommypsychologist.com

  • Melissa

    Good article. You’re right, it can be really hard to find healthcare professionals who have a good balance between being supportive of a mother’s desires for her birth experience and what’s “standard” in the medical community. I know a few women who have had VBAC’s (one of them after having had twins via c-section!) and for them the key was finding a supportive person who also knew when it was time to call it.

  • Renee J

    I had two VBACs after a c section when my daughter was breech. They just had me sign a form stating that I understood the risks. My doctor for my third pregnancy told me the risks of a second VBAC were actually lower than a second c section.

  • Sarah

    Great article. Glad to hear someone telling the truth!

  • LoveyDovey

    Thank you for this! I was lucky as well to be able to have a VBAC, I knew about the limitations of c-sections and we want several children so I was insistent. Helps I’m in Germany where they’re not as rabid about c-sections and were more game to try. I’m so sorry the docs apparently decided not to tell you bout the c-section limits.

  • Dawn Bach

    I had the opposite experience. I had ultra-feminist doctors who made me feel that I’d be missing out on the best experience of my life if I didn’t have a VBAC. According to what I’d heard and read, the only big risk factor was the type of uterine incision I’d had with my first c-section. As it turns out, there are a lot MORE factors involved.

    To make a long story short, my uterus ruptured. My baby died and I almost did too. I suffered catastrophic damage to my insides, and while my new doctors did several surgeries over the next few years to try and save everything, I eventually had to have a hysterectomy at age 35. My then-husband was unable to overcome the grief and he began abusing first prescription medications then illegal drugs. While he later beat these addictions, he died earlier this year from the damage done to his body.

    Believe it or not, I am NOT anti-VBAC. But if this is something you want, EDUCATE yourself. Have a doctor who is well-versed in high-risk pregnancies. Do not go past your due date. Understand exactly why your first pregnancy resulted in a c-section. And, most importantly, know that that the most important part of ANY birthing process is a healthy baby. If you can accomplish this vaginally, great. But you are no less of a woman or mother if you need surgery in the process.

    • Winter

      This is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. *hugs*

    • Beth

      If there were a like button attached to your comment, I would hit it 100 times! You are absolutely right! So sorry for your loss, hugs.

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  • yojjous

    After 78 hours of labor, I stalled, my cervix swelled and began closing, my DD’s Heart rate plummeted and I got a fever. During the emergency c-section they discovered she had a cord prolapse – it was wrapped over her head and around her neck and shoulder. She was most likely pushing herself back up the canal away from the pelvic outlet b/c any pressure on her cord by the pelvis would cut off her oxygen. She would have died if she went through the canal. She was born blue, not breathing, low heart rate, with meconium and Apgars of 4. She was intubated twice, had her stomach suctioned and needed oxygen, but was fine after 20 minutes. Birth is about the BABY. not the mother. I had a 5 page natural birth plan that went completely opposite to my hopes at each turn. And I am so lucky and blessed to have a smart baby who knew how to save herself and to have a happy healthy child now. I was blissed out after 3 days of unbearable labor and emerg surgery.