VBAC – what does it mean for pregnant women?

Have you experienced a caesarean section?

How do you feel physically and emotionally about it?

Would you recommend a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean section it to others? or not?

VBAC stands for vaginal birth after caesarean section – NBAC stands for normal birth after caesarean section…both essentially mean the same thing… A woman who has had a caesarean section for her first or for a previous birth is now aiming for, hoping for, planning on a normal vaginal birth for her next baby.

Why you might ask?
Why bother?

Well interestingly, contrary to what some people in the community generally might say about caesarean sections that they are quick, painless and easy, many mothers who have experienced a caesarean section might not agree… after all it is major abdominal surgery and there are several layers surgically opened to the size of a newborn baby and also add a pair of obstetrician’s hands… so it’s a fairly significant wound width size isn’t it? approximately 5 inches or 12cms.

It will take a while for the wound to heal, probably between 3 and 12 months, during which time the new mother is trying to care for herself and her newborn baby as well as recover… it’s not actually the quick easy painless experience some might fantasize or suggest.

Certainly, it is true, the operation when used appropriately in the right medical circumstances when all else has been tried – this would be referred to as a last resort – can be regarded as worthwhile and favorable.
Thank goodness c.sections where developed in the first place – right?

The concept of being able to save a mother and/or her baby is wonderful when surgical skills are utilized for the right reasons and the right circumstances.

However, health authorities have found the complications or side effects of such an operation on a mother and baby can possibly be detrimental to their physical and emotional health.

If an operation causing these outcomes was, in the first place unnecessary due to time limits, or a doctors busy schedule, or hospital rigid policies, or the fear of litigation, or the fact that obstetrician’s are actually paid more to do a c.section compared to a vaginal birth triggers the financial incentive to favor c.sections then that is an unfortunate situation.

The suffering for women post c.section can be excessive blood loss, infection (20% higher compared to a normal birth), a surgical error, post-natal depression just to identify a couple of them… there are many more however I will limit my discussion of them. Post natal depression affects 1 in 10 new mothers although studies do vary on the actual rate, to be honest, I have used a very conservative figure 1 in 10.

The figures have been rising along with the cesarean section rate and the health authorities are recognizing the impact this has on the growth and development of babies, toddlers and children. Further affects are on the development of the family, how they grow and function as a healthy family unit.

Clearly if a mother is suffering from post natal depression then this in turn is going to affect how she interacts with her children and how they grow and develop socially. Their ability to interact with others as they grow to adulthood.

Research has shown that Caesarean mothers are 6 times more likely to suffer post natal depression than mothers who have had a normal vaginal birth.

The benefits of keeping birth normal are vast… not only are risks reduced for the mother, but also and of course very importantly for the little baby… WHY? … you might be asking?

Well interestingly when a baby moves down the birth canal it is gently squeezed to cause the release of any excess fluid and mucus in the baby’s nose, mouth and upper respiratory tract, this helps prepare the baby to breathe within a minute after the birth.

Another action is that the fetal lung fluid; inside the baby’s empty and as yet not inflated lungs, will actually be taken up into the structure of the lungs in readiness for inflation of the lungs very soon after the baby begins to takes his/her first breath.

Without the compression of the birth canal this may not be as successful as mother nature has intended, you see none of this occurs with what Obstetricians describe as a cold caesarean that is a situation where the mother has not had any laboring at all. Her uterus has not massaged her baby to prepare it for life outside the womb.

Further benefits of a normal vaginal birth for a baby is the massaging action of the uterus, it will stimulate a significant production of adrenaline within the baby to trigger a good response within the baby to be very bright, sparky and alert at birth so the baby will be well able to firstly breath and secondly suckle.
Two very important things for a newborn baby to do I am sure you’ll agree!

It is worth keeping a balanced perspective isn’t it?

Some mothers will require a caesarean section and it’s great they’re available if required.

However when we look at the evidence and recognize risks and disadvantages as identified by the (WHO) World Health Organization, logically we do know that keeping birth normal wherever possible for mothers and babies is a better health option.

Aiming for a normal birth has benefits for both mother and baby which are worth being motivated towards.

Do you think new mothers who have had a caesarean section are very well supported and cared for by our community during their first year of mothering?

What suggestions would you have for those wanting a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean?