Some women find the TOLAC acronym offensive, because it implies “trying,” so practitioners sensitive to this may want to use the phrase “planning a VBAC.” Understanding that TOLAC isn’t a dig at moms, but just a straightforward, objective term that care providers use, can (hopefully) take the sting out of the word.
While these statements are very comforting, as birth myths tend to be, they are false comparisons. We can accurately and fairly compare the risks of a TOLAC to the risks of a repeat cesarean or the risks of a first time time. However, it is a misleading to compare the risks of birth to non-birth events.
I have often heard moms say “if two numbers are less than 1%, they are similar.” Typically this is expressed while comparing the risks of rupture in an unscarred versus scarred uterus. But is this true? How different can two numbers less than 1% be?
“There is a major misperception that TOLAC [trial of labor after cesarean] is extremely risky” – Mona Lydon-Rochelle MD, March 2010. “In terms of VBAC, “your risk is really, really quite low” – George Macones MD, March 2010. Both Drs. Macones and Lyndon-Rochelle are obstetricians and researchers who made these statements at the 2010 NIH [National Institutes of Health] VBAC Conference. Now you may think, “Wait a sec. Everything I’ve heard from my family, friends, and medical provider is how risky VBAC is and how cesareans are the conservative, prudent, and safest choice.” Why the discrepancy between the statements of these two doctor researchers and the conventional wisdom prevalent in America?
The statistic “Only 6% of uterine ruptures are catastrophic” is from the Evidence Report (Guise 2010) which was the basis of the 2010 NIH VBAC Conference and it refers to the rate of infant death due to uterine rupture.
I came across a couple different bits of (mis)information over the past day that have really concerned me. In both situations, people, one of whom is a certified professional midwife (CPM), give false information regarding how a cesarean affects one’s risk of uterine rupture in future pregnancies.