After My VBAC, My Uterus Did Rupture — And I Lost My Baby

VBACWhen women attempt or consider a VBAC, Georgia’s story is the one that they often hear about. She is the statistic that medical professionals often cite in that low, but documented risk of blood loss, uterine rupture, and ultimately fatal consequences for baby when attempting vaginal birth following a previous c-section. It’s more than a mommy urban legend swapped in whispers over parenting forums or between concerned friends of friends. It’s the story many women are told before committing to a birthing center, their fingers to their original c-section scar as they’re informed of their chances.

While VBACs can be positive, empowering experience for some women who find themselves overcoming a doctor’s impersonal suggestion to just default on the operating table, Georgia is sadly not one of these mothers.

The mother tells me that when pregnant with her first child, she never considered necessarily needing a c-section. The young expectant mother, then only 23 years old, was in labor for 34 hours and never dilated more than six centimeters. When her son’s heart rate began to drop, her doctor finally suggested performing a c-section.

Twelve years later and pregnant with her second child, Georgia describes herself as “torn” between a repeat c-section and a vaginal birth. Her primary care physician and two OBGYN assistants urged the expectant mother to attempt a VBAC. She says that she was well aware that another c-section would more likely result in a safe delivery, but her doctors assured her that everything would go well given that her original c-section incision was horizontal and not vertical. That coupled with the long duration between both of her children lead doctors to tell her that she was “just fine.”

“I bought into the hype that a vaginal birth was an amazing experience and the ‘true’ way to give birth,” she says when remembering how doctors “dismissed” her concerns.

Georgia was informed of the risk of a uterine rupture, but with the immediate add on that the risk was so tiny. Taking a glance at the numbers, the expectant mother weighed the risk with hopes of getting back on her feet soon after the delivery. Her very difficult decision was also tinged with having known the pain of recovering from a c-section. Her best friend successfully bounced back from a VBAC some months earlier, and so Georgia eventually committed herself.

One day before her due date, Georgia began to get nervous about the delivery and requested a c-section. She was told by her primary care doctor that one could not be scheduled until the following week. When her due date did arrive, Georgia more so just wanted the baby born than anything else. She checked into her hospital the following day, where her VBAC was scheduled, with what she thought were labor pains. She was one day passed her due date at this point.

The OBGYN confirmed that Georgia was not in labor and sent her home. Georgia was instructed to return to the hospital when “the labor pains got so bad that I couldn’t talk.” The following evening, she was awakened with a slight burning sensation in her abdomen, a pain that although did strike her as labor, felt somehow off.

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    • Mel

      Wow, what a devastating story. It is so depressing that many doctors and nurses continue to dismiss certain concerns of pregnant women. I know a handful of women who went through traumatic births resulting in defects to their babies, or death. All of them could have been prevented by someone taking their concerns seriously.

    • Georgia’s Son

      Just reading the story has brought acknowledge a lot of those memories. I am however glad that the surgeons acted in time to what would’ve been the loss of my baby sister as well as my mother, one of the only people to stick by me my entire life. I love you mom.

    • kt

      im horrified at the growing number of cases of ‘fetal demise’ that is clearly the fault of POOR care!! the medical profession cries foul when they are put under the microscope yet they surely CTA’s when these horrific things happen and say there ‘was nothing that could have been done to prevent it” … how bout listening to a woman about her own body?????!!!! babies had been born for CENTURIES without medical facilities and know-it-all doctors because women were brought up to KNOW THEIR OWN BODIES and to listen to them and heed their warnings.. yet today- women are told CONSTANTLY that some DOCTOR knows her body better… its sickening to hear these terrible stories.. even in February a dear friend gave birth to a stillborn boy.. because the doctor needed to push her date further out by 8 days (( vacation?? golf?? mistress??? )) had that baby been delivered as planned 8 days earlier, he would be here with us today.. SHAME ON THE MEDICAL profession/establisment!! SHAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • lilacorchid

        Whatever, kt. Hindsight is always 20/20. You would probably be crying foul if she was induced because it wasn’t natural and the baby knows when to come.

        Having a child die is absolutely terrible and I feel terrible for this mother. However, shitting on the medical system that has helped to bring down the maternal death rate from 1 in 100 down to 1 in 10000 in 100 years is just really ignorant on your part.

      • Moe

        I applaud you for wanting to do away with western medicine and deliver babies the way they did 400 years ago.
        My condolences to your husband though on you and your babies deaths (if you were one of the 12% of colonial women to die during pregnancy and childbirth).
        If you want to deliver the way they did in the past, you must be willing to accept the outcomes they got in the past.

      • PJ

        ” the medical system that has helped to bring down the maternal death rate from 1 in 100 down to 1 in 10000 in 100 years ”

        You mean the medical system that has pathologised pregnancy and childbirth? That all but forces c-sections on women who could deliver naturally, simply for the convenience of the doctor? If you think that doesn’t happen, you’re naive at best.

      • Michelle p

        I was admitted into the hospital and was under their care for 2 days when my uterus ruptured, I lost my beautiful daughter because of aVBAC

    • 1BadMom.com

      If you see my comments about this story on Facebook, you’ll know where I stand on this. If you ask me, her doctors were a bunch of quacks.

      1. She was never a good candidate for VBAC. Her first delivery resulted in an Emergency C-section b/c she wasn’t dilating and the baby’s heart rate was dropping. A repeat c-section should’ve been recommended.

      2. The docs should’ve seen the incision was fused to the bladder on ultrasound…depending on what year this happened, that is.

      3. She could’ve gone into labor before her cesarean and still had the same result.

      4. When she went in thinking she was in labor the first time, the docs should’ve done an ultrasound and seen that something wasn’t right and gone for an immediate emergency c-section.

      5. She had a case. Oh boy did she have a case!! She consented to the VBAC, but on bad advice from bad doctors.

      6. Because of how her first incision healed, she should’ve been placed in a high-risk category and gotten in to see the doctor on a weekly basis for her entire pregnancy to minimize risks to herself and the baby.

      7. The docs and nurses were reluctant to wake the surgeon and expected a woman with a torn open uterus to deliver her deceased baby? She NEEDED to have surgery regardless. This definitely lends credence to my “those doctors were idiots” theory. They didn’t know what they were doing and were reckless. She definitely had a case against these &$%*.

      I am so pissed about this. I had a successful VBAC without any complications, but it was because I was a good candidate for VBAC and my doctors paid very close attention to how things looked, did extra ultrasounds, and didn’t induce me. If I went in thinking there was an emergency, an ultrasound was done immediately.

      I’m so sorry that this happened, Georgia. My heart goes out to you. Sending mommy love your way.

      • Moe

        2. Not something that an ultrasound would show.
        4. Why would they do an ultrasound if they thought she was (or wasn’t) i labor?
        6. Her first delivery would not warrant a ‘high-risk’ definition, and patients aren’t ever seen once a week all throughout pregnancy.

      • Liz

        Are you saying she was a bad candidate because she never fully dilated, or because it was an emergency c-section with the dropping heart rate? I’m wondering because I was told I was a good candidate for a VBCAC, but I also had an emergency c-section when my daughter’s heart rate started dropping while I was pushing. I’m pretty sure that happened because I had an infection from them breaking my water without giving me antibiotics. Anyway, I was just wondering if you were told that those who had emergency c-sections weren’t good VBAC candidates, as I am doing research for when I get pregnant again.

      • Michelle p

        The doctors told me I was also a good candidate for a VBAC, I did have an emergency c section with my first child, they told me it was 3% chance of a uterine rupture, I have the contract that they made me sign that said that, I also had toxemia. The doctor still pushed for a VBAC. The nurse increased my inducing meds, I told her I was contracting but still increased them. I was in so much pain, I was vomiting black stuff and they refilled my epidermal 3 x’s in one hour, this was all signs of uterine rupture, and no one called the doctor to check me. I started bleeding externally, the nurse realized there was too much blood, I was laying in a puddle of blood before she called the doctor. I then was unconscious. That was the end of everything. I’m lucky to have another child afterwards and I was lucky I didn’t die, this was in savannah , ga

    • kay

      The fact that the DR sent her home the first day is horrifying! She had the intuition, the DR should have done more tests! Id find another Lawyer!

    • Jennifer

      That’s sad that she got such sub-standard care and her and her baby had to pay the price. As a 3x VBAC mom, who is currently planning her 4th VBAC, I disagree w/ finding a high-risk obstetrician for a VBAC, unless there are extenuating circumstances. I don’t think most moms who are choosing VBACs are doing so lightly. I think any mom choosing a VBAC should make herself aware of the risks and the signs of uterine rupture. It happens, none of live in a vacuum where we don’t believe it happens. It happens in less than 1 in 100 moms attempting a non-induced VBAC though and knowing the signs to watch for and having a good care provider (I have a Midwife) is sometimes all you can do. Cesareans are not w/out risks and if you look at the common risks of uterine rupture vs the common risks of a second cesarean (risks go up with each cesarean), the risks of rupture are generally lower than that of having another cesarean. There are moms that lose their lives from planned cesareans, the NIH does not expect any maternal deaths from VBAC. Our cesaean rate is astronomical though and does more harm to our maternal/fetal health (hence why we’re like 41st of maternal/fetal deaths out of the top developed countries in the world) and right now only 8% of moms are having VBACs meaning over 90% of previous cesarean moms are having another cesarean section and are increasing their risk for lung problems w/ baby, hysterectomy, placental problems w/ subsequent pregnancies and the list continues.

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    • E

      Something very, very similar happened to me. I was a first time mom, very looking forward to my first baby. By all accounts I did everything right, I researched and found an OBGYN that came recommended, etc. The OBGYN was adamant I was having a VBAC, even after I told her my family had a long history of C-sections due to small pelvises and that several women on my family had lost babies trying to attempt VBAC.

      Well, I had a pregnancy from hell, I was sick all day long, non-stop, couldn’t eat, could barely drink, but the OBGYN dismissed all my complaints and a nagging pain that would never go away as “first time mom jitters”.

      I didn’t want to be a bad patient, I am known for not going to the doctor and for not complaining of pain until it is nearly life threatening, so I listened to her, put on my “big girl panties” and went on despite the constant pain and nausea/odd dizziness.

      At the near end of my second trimester, I was feeling awful, loosing a bunch of weight, the doctor still dismissed me and even barked at me for being so whiney and not gaining weight. I felt terrible… one night my pain suddenly was so atrocious, I didn’t know what was wrong, I suddenly fainted and my husband called for an ambulance because I was white as a sheet and couldn’t walk.

      I was rushed to the hospital, the paramedics didn’t know what to do, I looked normal, sick, but not bleeding or anything, just in terrible pain and with irregular pulse.

      On the triage the nurses wanted to dismiss me, but placed me on observation because my pulse was skyrocketing and I was obviously not well.

      I suffered for 6 hours, feeling like I was dying, not being able to breathe, the nurses couldn’t find my pulse. Finally my husband demanded a doctor, when the doctor arrived and examined me, she was furious, she yelled at the nurses and got everybody to rush me in for an emergency operation… my uterus had ruptured causing internal bleeding and the loss of my baby. I had been slowly bleeding to death for over 6 hours and my abdominal cavity was so swollen with blood I was drowning from the inside.

      By all accounts I shouldn’t be alive, my pulse was pratically non-existant for nearly 1 hour before the operation, it didn’t register on monitors nor manually, but nobody did anything to help.

      I spent a whole week in the ICU between life and death… the OBGYN that treated me came in to see me once at the ICU, she was horrendous, she examined me like someone would examine a cow, walked away… that’s all.

      Turns out I had a bicournate uterus, that I needed serious attention to detect all along, but had been dismissed by a terrible OBGYN. I was so torn from my loss I didn’t lawyer up… to this day I have nightmares about it and it has ripped me apart since.

      • Anne

        Not to diminish your horrible experience and I am so sorry for your loss, but perhaps I do not understand. I haven’t gone through labor yet so please excuse me.
        I was under the impression that a VBAC was a Vaginal Birth After C-Section. But you mentioned that this was your first labor? Are you comparing your rupture and poor health care or do I not understand what a VBAC is?

      • 1BadMom.com

        How can you have a VBAC if you’re a first time mom. A VBAC is a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. If this was your first child, you didn’t have a prior c-section.

      • E

        Sorry, I just meant it was very similar for these reasons (as you can tell I haven’t successfully being able to have kids so I totally misunderstood the acronym, my apologies):

        1- my doctor ignored me when I said my family had a history of problems delivering, this included VBAC.

        2- While faced with everything we had to go through nobody took us seriously until the very last second. So I feel the authors pain.

    • AVodah

      Don’t you all bitch and moan when doctors “push’ C-sections on you?

      This is why malpractice insurance is so important for doctors. You will sue them if you do have a C=Section, and you will sue them if you don’t.

      –headdesk—

      Don’t have kids, please.

    • JenM

      Well, I would think after her uterine rupture, they should have sectioned her immediately–that part, to me, is the worst.

      And doctors are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. That’s why many won’t do VBAC’s anymore, the best way not to get sued is to do a C-section.

      I love it when lay-people Monday morning quarterback.

    • Lilybee

      I am so sorry for your loss.

    • jane

      When I had my fourth child I was told by my high risk Doctor that I could have a normal birth and not have to go through a C section which I did with my previous child. My “high risk” doctor left the hospital and went home for the weekend while I was in labor leaving another doctor in charge who asked my why I was not having another C Section. He did not like the idea of me going through labor and thankfully tried to call my “high risk doctor” to see why he was allowing this, he even went as far as trying to call my previous OBYN to find out what type of incision she had made, but could not reach her either on a Friday night ( she was retired) It seems my scar was across my stomach but as this doctor explained to me since my last baby was a premature the cut on the inside could be the other way and that could lead to rupture. As he was attempting to get this information I started Vomiting and have a burning pain in my stomach. He rushed me immediately into surgery and my uterus had ruptured! Thankfully this doctor was there at this time and I was in the labor room, they were able to get me right in the operating room. Thank God my daughter was born healthy and I came through it OK. The doctors tried to blame it on my age (47) but if this high risk OBGYN had been competent he would have never allowed me to go into labor.

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    • MaeganB

      I guess I don’t fully understand what happened. If she wasn’t actually in labor – the VBAC didn’t CAUSE her rupture. And even if she had scheduled a section…the uterus could have ruptured before the scheduled date, right? Some women schedule their sections for as close to the EDD as possible – even going past it by a day or two. Most VBAC patients can’t be induced b/c the drugs involved can cause stress to the uterus, making a rupture more likely. So even if she’d wanted to go before her EDD – it couldn’t really have been done. A VBAC didn’t cause her rupture – pregnancy did. Maybe I’m just not reading it correctly or missed reading some vital piece of info.

    • VBAC mumma

      This story sounds like a made up story..now why would they realise her uterus had ruptured but told her she was to be induced still..None of it even makes sense & I a, convinced its a made up story to scare women

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kathy-FlorCruz/1531912082 Kathy FlorCruz

      I don’t know how on earth this wasn’t a “good case” for a lawsuit since practically every step of the way I see that the hospital & doctors didn’t properly diagnose what was happening during the time the mother was having pain.

    • NMAMA

      Not sure what to think. I had a uterine rupture with my VBAC and it was a LOT more than just a burning “off” sensation. The pain that I felt I would not wish on the Devil himself. Fortunately I was able to deliver my baby safely with a C-section, but had to go under for 2 hours of surgery to repair my uterus.

    • ElleT

      Surely at the initial assessment they would have checked the foetal heart rate which would have slowed if the uterine wall had ruptured at that time !!!

    • Jacob

      This story is so, so, so fake! It just doesn’t make any sense! Shame on the writer. This article should be pulled!

      • Michelle p

        Please take this for real, it happened to me, it was not my fault, I would do anything to have my 8lb 6 oz baby to be here, but with all the trauma she could of had brain damage too, my daughter is buried in Orlando , fl. It’s the worst experience any mother could go through

    • Lis

      Sigh.. Doctors are just damned if they do and damned if they don’t, aren’t they? Women who DO look like good VBAC candidates are already seen as high risk or dangerous, so doctors don’t want to touch them with a ten-foot pole for fear of being sued for not repeat-sectioning. Then you have a story like this, where she claims a doctor PUSHED a VBAC on her, and she wants to sue for that. What the hell are doctors supposed to do?? All they can do is look at your prior experiences and recommend the best outcome for you. IT IS STILL YOUR CHOICE. If your doctor doesn’t let you choose, change doctors.

      (I also call BS on the grounds of inflammatory language: whether she’d had a section or not, she would have had this uterine rupture one day after her due date, correct? I’m sorry if this really occurred, but there IS risk in VBAC birth – in EVERY birth. This is why women need to be informed of their situation and their options.)

    • KLyn

      Amazing that I can’t find a single reference within this article, no public speaking from “Georgia”, and the only other copy I can find of this story is a copy/paste version of this one. Why would a woman make a story so public only to keep completely quiet? I don’t buy it.

    • julia

      I am just wondering… when the uterus ruptures the pain is such small? You also had a baldder rupture didn’t that hurt…? I imagine that the pain must be excruciating… how come you felt just a burn..?

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    • Lynnz Lyfe

      I am so glad that I read this! Thank you so much for sharing! I am 38 weeks and my current doctors have been trying to convince me to do another VBac… I have already had 2 C-sections in which one resulted in a still birth. and 2 Vbacs in between the 2 sections…. c- section, VBac, Vbac, C-section. and now pregnant with my 5th they wanted me to attempt another VBac. I have to keep fighting them and telling them that they need to do a C-section but they keep trying to push it further away in hopes that I will go into labor… but tonight I was considering doing another Vbac but decided to do some research first which I came across this post! thank you so much! it was very helpful and I am going to stick to my guns and push for the C – section!… ps sorry for Georgia’s lose…