I’m in an online group for labor & delivery nurses where the discussion of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at home came up. While some understood the massive VBAC barriers many women face, others simply said, “Find a hospital that supports VBAC.” I left a late-night comment stating that “finding another hospital that supports VBAC” is just not a reality in many areas of the country. It’s literally not possible. Not even in the highly populated state of California. I also suggested rather than calling women stupid or debating the validity of the decision to have a home VBAC , we should consider why women make this decision.
In 2010, I was sitting next to an OB/GYN during a lunch break at the National Institutes of Health VBAC Conference. She was telling me about how she had worked at a rural hospital, without 24/7 anesthesia, that offered vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). I asked her what they did in the event of an emergency. “I perform an emergency cesarean under local anesthetic,” she plainly stated.
“No one can force you to have a cesarean.” I see this all the time in message boards. That’s just not true. Let’s start with what is ethical and legal: Yes, no one can legally force you to have a cesarean. ACOG even says in their latest VBAC guidelines that “restrictive VBAC policies should not be used to force women to undergo a repeat cesarean delivery against their will.” So even if your facility has a VBAC ban, they still cannot force you to have surgery… legally or ethically. But then you have reality: It happens all the time, but it may look different than you expect.
Internal bleeding from uterine rupture can cause referred pain through the phrenic nerve which can present in the shoulder. Shoulder pain is sometimes not included in lists of uterine rupture symptoms, but I have seen it cited multiple places (see below) and have had conversations with OBs, nurses, and anesthesiologists who have experienced uterine ruptures with shoulder pain. I’m also aware of two cases where the uterine rupture diagnosis was delayed because staff was not familiar with the incidence of referred pain.
A reader recently asked, “I wonder however if there are studies that compare the method of induction. My Doula said that the increase rates of uterine/ scar rupture was due to using high dosages of Pitocin, but now the induction uses lower dosages and administered at longer intervals. Do you know something about this?”
“Home birth is not for everyone but informed choice is. The patronizing statement, “home delivery is for pizza”, is unprofessional and has no place in the legitimate discussion. Some suggest making hospital birth more homelike.
My intention in attending this meeting was to amplify the voice of the consumer. I think sometimes it’s difficult for OBs who attend VBACs, or for those who live in communities where they have access to hospitals that allow VBAC, to understand that not everyone lives in that world.
“I have just seen so many women who have husbands who aren’t supportive because they don’t understand. My husband would love to help more men understand.”
A couple recently shared their VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans) journey with me. It touched my heart. By the time I was done reading it, I had tears in my eyes.
Trying to find a VBAC supportive health care provider can be (very, very) difficult process. Understandably, some women choose to call various providers rather than meet with them face to face. This woman’s experience illustrates the pitfalls of this method.
I asked on Facebook for resources for women who are in the midst of the processing and grieving. Here is the list. If you know of more, whether they are on-line or in-person groups, for free or a fee, please leave a comment. None of these groups or individuals have been checked out or endorsed by VBAC Facts. This is simply a list of resources for you to check out.
It’s important to use clear, specific language when we talk about birth because there is a lot of confusion among moms, advocates, doulas, and health care providers about VBAC and induction. When I point out the lack of clarity many people have on the topic to “anti-induction advocates” (for the lack of a better term), they respond with the fact that their focus is warning moms about elective inductions, which is absolutely needed. And they genuinely believe that people are aware of the distinction between elective and medically-indicated inductions. However, that has not been my experience, in fact it’s been quite the opposite. There are many people who don’t understand the why, when, and how of inducing VBACs and that is impacting the abilities of women to make informed decisions and exercise their right of patient autonomy.
What is the most honest, transparent, and effective way to communicate obstetrical risk, especially when discussing vaginal birth after cesarean? I think rather than telling you how, I want to show you how we do things here at VBAC Facts®.