Is She Really a Danger?

A story appeared on CNN around the holidays about a c-section mama who defied her doctors and had a VBAC at home. It stirred up a bit of controversy. It makes me really, really sad for this mama. My son was born via c-section due to, in my opinion, too many interventions (epidural, pitocin, and, ultimately a c-section. A story for another post.). However, as my husband and I contemplate having more children, I have been saddened, angered, and disturbed to find out how hard it is going to be to give birth NATURALLY. Yes, naturally. You walk into a doctor’s office after having a c-section, mentioned that you want a vaginal, unmedicated birth, and they look at you like you’ve got two heads. A c-section scar is like a scarlet letter. It’s with you always, and immediately you’re seen as a liability by most OB’s (despite the fact that ACOG recently updated their VBAC guidelines).

Yes, I get that this woman’s decision could be seen as irresponsible to some, if not many. Understand that those of us looking to have a VBAC aren’t being irresponsible, we’re looking out for the best interest of our children and families … and that includes from being born UNNECESSARILY via c-section. Did you know that c-section babies are more likely to suffer from reflux, food allergies, and asthma? Did you know that c-section moms are more likely not to breastfeed and suffer from postpartum depression? March of Dimes lists additional risks on their website:

Risks for the baby

  • Anesthesia: Some babies are affected by the drugs given to the mother for anesthesia during surgery. These medications make the woman numb so she can’t feel pain. But they may cause the baby to be inactive or sluggish.
  • Breathing problems: Even if they are full-term, babies born by c-section are more likely to have breathing problems than are babies who are delivered vaginally.

Breastfeeding

Women who have c-sections are less likely to breastfeed than women who have vaginal deliveries. This may be because they are uncomfortable from the surgery or have less time with the baby in the hospital.

Risks for the mother

A few women have one or more of these complications after a c-section:

Increased bleeding, which may require a blood transfusion Infection in the incision, in the uterus, or in other nearby organs
Reactions to medications, including the drugs used for anesthesia
Injuries to the bladder or bowel Blood clots in the legs, pelvic organs or lungs
A very small number of women who have c-sections die. Death is rare, but it is more likely with cesarean than with vaginal delivery.

If a woman who has had a cesarean section becomes pregnant again, she is at increased risk of:

  • Placenta previa: The placenta implants very low in the uterus. It covers all or part of the internal opening of the cervix (the birth canal).
  • Placenta accreta: The placenta implants too deeply and too firmly into the uterine wall.

Both of these conditions can lead to severe bleeding during labor and delivery, endangering mother and baby. The risk increases with the number of pregnancies.

If I’m able to have more children in the future, I want them too come into the world safely, and in the most natural way possible. I want them to get every benefit of a vaginal delivery, and I want to avoid another MAJOR abdominal surgery “just because” I had a c-section previously. I get that there are risks (and yes, that the risks can be catastrophic), but I have to applaud this mama for doing her research and for doing what she felt was best for both herself, her family, and her unborn child.

What do you think?

If you’ve had a c-section, are trying for VBAC, or have had a traumatic birth experience, check out your local ICAN Chapter.

  • Peanut Gallery

    Via FB: An interesting article. I know people tend to feel very strongly on both sides of the argument. For me, well, I am not a risk taker and so I didn’t even seriously consider a VBAC eventhough my OB told me I could try for one. Honestly, the way I look at it- any way you do it, there are risks involved and you are trading one for another. It is just a matter of what gives you the least amount of anxiety about the birthing process.

  • Peanut Gallery

    Via FB: I did a VBAC and it was amazing!! The risk of rupture is about 1% and my risk was even lower because I had a vaginal birth, then csection and so #3 was VBAC. I was in really good shape so maybe that’s what made it easy but the baby was out fast and I recovered in no time. :) I had a HORRIBLE csection with my #2 so I was doing anything NOT to have to go through it again. Too bad #4 came early after me laboring all day and needed an emergency section.

  • Peanut Gallery

    Via FB: I have been thinking about this a lot lately mostly with the asthma. Like how could Erik get it just because he was a c-section baby and Elliot who was a VBAC is totally normal. In my experience this is a serious lifelong problem and very real when they just say c-section.

  • Peanut Gallery

    Via FB: hey are struggling to decide what to do with me with this baby. I think after reading this, I will push for a regular delivery.

  • Mama Sully

    I had three terrible C-sections, but I’m thankful that my babies and I all came through them. I applaud this mother for doing what she felt she had to.

    That Ricki Lake documentary completely changed my mind about childbirth as well. It was really persuasive, though I think it had the effect of making a lot of women feel badly that they had c-sections. No mother giving birth – no matter how it happens – should have to feel bad about the way it happened.

  • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

    I think it’s terrible that offices dismiss patients’ wish for a VBAC without the specific details of that case. VBAC doesn’t make sense for every person. But given the research out there, you can’t summarily dismiss a procedure.

  • http://www.itbuildscharacter.com ChiMomWriter

    Mama Sully: Amen to that – When struggling after my daughter was born, her pediatrician sat me down and said something that I try to remember: “If Mom’s okay, baby will be okay. And vice versa.” It applies to a lot of situations. You have to do what is right for you and your particular situation.

  • Peanut Gallery

    Via FB: Very very true. I switched doctors at 30 weeks (wanted to do everything local) and then had to drive to a doctor 20 minutes away just to find a hospital and a doctor that were supportive of my VBAC. After I finished the nurse actually thanked me for having one. It was a wonderful experience.

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