A Repeat C-Section vs A VBAC

A Follow Up – C Section vs. VBAC

I’m still a few weeks away from the ‘completion’ of this pregnancy right now, but I can’t stop thinking about my upcoming labor. It’s on my mind all the time.

I’ll try not to bog you down with information of my labor with my first, as everyone has their own delivery story and everyone has had their own struggles and complications. (I wrote about it all here.)

The basics from my labor – I was induced 9 days after my due date. I hadn’t been feeling any contractions and was barely dilated. Long story short, I wasn’t making any progress, even though my doctors were aggressively trying to get my body to get itself going with lots of Pitocin. After almost 12 hours of labor, I had only dilated to a very generous 3cm (don’t forget, you have to get to 10cm). My son was also face forward (sunny side up). His heart rate was dropping into uncomfortable territory, so we decided to go with a c-section. It was a really routine surgery.

Looking back, I should have done a lot of things differently. I should have been more patient. I should have waited it out a little longer. But I didn’t, and I can’t dwell on the past. I have to work with the hand of cards I’ve been dealt.

Right now my doctors and I are discussing what to do with this delivery. Two of my doctors strongly encourage a repeat c-section, especially given how my son’s delivery went. The third doctor is encouraging me to consider a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), especially given my age and health (two things that can potentially work in my favor). I know ultimately the decision is ours to make right now, but I am really, really torn.

There are risks to both – a c-section is major surgery, so there are risks with that, and a VBAC poses a 1 in 100 chance of your uterus rupturing. And while that means there’s a 99% chance it won’t happen, it’s not a scare tactic- it does actually happen.

csection or vbac

Now, I know it’s a very personal decision, and I know some people believe some doctors are quick to jump to a c-section even when not medically necessary. I personally don’t feel as though any of my doctors recommend a c-section because it’s easy for them, or because they can bill me more, or other various arguments I’ve heard. I trust my doctors and I believe they have my best interest at heart. And I understand why they are recommending a c-section again – I was told during surgery that I could have pushed for days and my son wouldn’t have come out because my pelvis was too narrow. Those two doctors are also supportive if I decide to try for a VBAC.

My husband is also pro repeat c-section. He truly believes that our son was stuck in my hips and is terrified of the emergency situation we potentially face if I try a VBAC and our new baby gets stuck again. Here’s a summary of his thoughts:

“…But just because men can’t have babies, it doesn’t mean that we don’t feel pain. It’s difficult to watch your wife in stress, and to not know the status of your unborn baby. As a man, I found it incredibly difficult to not be able to do anything. All I could do was sit around, wait, and hold Lauren’s hand. That was a challenge.

To understand why I’m on #TeamCSection (<- is this a thing yet,) we need to discuss motivation. My logic is pretty simple.

The doctor is motivated by one thing. Get the baby out. I take a lot of comfort in this. That’s all they care about (and maybe sometimes to a fault, but I can appreciate that their main concern is the mother and child’s safety.) If the doctor feels confident that a repeat C-section is the safest and most efficient way to get the baby out and protect my wife, then sign us up, please.

I am motivated by the same desire, but I’m also motivated by fear. I’m afraid of attempting a natural birth, not progressing, and finding ourselves in an emergency C-section, where the tension, urgency, and anxiety is spiking all around me. Being in that situation, unable to do much to support, unsure that everyone will make it out safely, and being filled with fear and regret is my biggest reason to want to elect for a repeat C. I can’t imagine being in that situation, and I’m hesitant to make decisions that may lead there. At the end of the day (or really at the beginning of the day since we scheduled so early,) I just want mom and baby to be safe and sound in a hospital room, on the road to recovery and heading home. That’s my motivation.

Lauren’s motivations are different, and rightfully so. We’ve talked a lot about electing to go into surgery and how frightening that is (and I agree, and I know it’s difficult for me to discuss since I’m not the one on the operating table.)”

As of this time, we are on the OR schedule for a repeat C-section. If my body happens to go into labor before that date, my doctors are very supportive of trying for a VBAC. So, in essence, we plan to sit back and see what my body decides it wants to do.

10 COMMENTS

  1. How lucky I am to have been inspired to let go of my control. To let God work His wonders through me. How blessed we are to have faith in a God who is intimately involved with every nuance of our lives and guides us and protects us all the way through. Just give your full trust in Him. Everything is under control.

  2. Hi Lauren, I had a VBAC in my mid forties. The C-section and recovery was a piece of cake. During labor and many many weeks later…, I had wished I had opted for another C-section. But the experience from my VBAC is priceless! From my experience, if I were younger and had another pregnancy, I’d switch back to Team-C. I think the docs are right though, if baby comes early, try it. If nearing or past due date, consider the baby’s size. Best wishes! 🙂

  3. I think the choice you are at is the best choice for you because it feels right to you. I had a scheduled c-section with my first due to placenta previa. With my second child (4 years after my first) my doctor said it was up to me what I would like to do. We scheduled a date and time for the OR and figured that if baby decided to come before that day that we would go with labour and delivery. It turned out that my little girl wanted to come into the world early and I went into labour before my scheduled c-section date. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), they found quite early that the platelets were only half of what they should be. My doctor said I should go with the c-section at that point as they could better control bleeding this way because there was always that 1% chance of something rupturing during VBAC. It was scarier for me the second time around just because it was more of an emergency but I found comfort in the fact that I knew what would happen and what the recovery would be. There is always a fear of the unknown but we have to make the decision that feels right for us and go with it.

  4. I’m In the exact same position as you right now. My first baby was an emergency c-section after being overdue, very long unproductive labor, pitocin, sunny side up baby who got stuck, etc. Now I’m 27 weeks pregnant with my second.
    Watch the documentary The Business of Being Born (and if you can check out to continuation ‘More Business of Being Born’). The first documentary is available on Netflix, you may have to search a bit harder to find the second one. But it is SO WORTH IT. It will give you a true sense of the way things work in Labor and Delivery units, the real statistics on induction, c-sections, uterine rupture, etc. And it will give you advice and stories from both sides of the coin.
    I can’t tell you what you should do because it is a personal choice and we all try to choose what we feel is best for our bodies and our babies. But personally, I’m doing everything I can to try for a VBAC.
    Good luck!

  5. We’re in the same situation. Luckily we still have time since I’m only 16 weeks along. My first pregnancy ended in a emergency c-section because I didn’t dilate further then 3cm. I was induced because of early stages of pregnancy-poisoning and my body wasn’t ready to let go yet.
    My husband is also on #teamC-section, because it’s “quick and easy”. My recovery was fast and close to painless, and he thinks that it will be the same if we do one this time.

    I’m not so sure of this, because now we have a 2,5 year old running around. Who obviously wants attention and wants to be picked up now and then. And I would be in the hospital for at least 5 days, instead of a couple of hours after vbac.

    If my pregnancy is anything like my first, than I don’t have a choice, but for now I’m thinking vbac.

  6. Lauren,
    I wanted to let you know that I had a similar birthing scenario as yours and am happy to say that I had a successful VBAC. I had a completely different set of doctors who didn’t necessarily encourage me having a VBAC due to the possible (all be it small) chance of fatality. I was determined to not let the odds scare me and to find a hospital that would allow me to have the birthing experience I so desperately desired. I think you should just go with the flow and see how your body reacts. Every pregnancy is different so the fact that you didn’t experience labor on your own the first time around doesn’t mean it won’t happen with this pregnancy. Go with your gut… I did and it was successful.

  7. Hey, I would try for a VBAC. I have 7 kids, with last 5 by c/s. I wanted a VBAC, but baby turned breech at 36 weeks and a version isn’t recommended with c/s history.

    But, ultimately each person has different reasons for their decision. I had 2 previous uncomplicated vaginal deliveries. My section was emergent for what we already knew was going to be an NICU baby. He couldn’t tolerate labor, so we had to get him on out.

    I see your husband’s point of view, but feel you will question your decision if you don’t at least try. Maybe you guys could come up with a game plan. Agree on how many hrs you will give it. Or, schedule c/s for 41 weeks and give your body that whole time to start labor. If you go into labor naturally chances of c/s or less than an induction.

  8. I have now had 3 C-sections. The first one came after 20 hours of labor (not productive enough), with a baby in distress. Second came after water was broken all day, with zero progress. Third was 100% scheduled because the due date came and went, with nothing happening. The doctors weren’t ever opposed to a VBAC, but they wanted me to have realistic expectations of what my chances were of having labor progress normally when it didn’t before.

    Don’t worry! No matter what happens the next time around, you have a better idea what to expect, and you won’t have the same level of fear and anxiety. Good luck to you!

  9. I had 6 vbacs and 1 vba2c. I thought that the csections were more difficult to recover from. The biggest challenge during pregnancy was patiently waiting as my “due date” would come and go-most of my babies were born 10+ days after their due date. Make sure your doctor or midwife is truly vbac friendly and willing to wait for your body to labor. A doula would be a great support for you and your husband as well. Best wishes!

  10. Hi Lauren, I had a very similar first baby delivery story and opted to try for the VBAC the second time. I was unable to find anyone who had a similar situation to mine, so I just wanted to drop you a quick note and say that I had a successful VBAC the second time. I actually had a different set of doctors the second time (due to a move between pregnancies) and they were all encouraging me to try for the VBAC. I’m not so sure that my first set of doctors would have encouraged me to try. In the end, I was so glad I did! Good luck to you in whichever route you choose.

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