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.
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.