Preparing for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) can feel overwhelming. Thankfully, we are at a point where there is overwhelming research available on the safety and accessibility of VBAC, as well as resources for you to learn about and improve your chances of attaining a successful VBAC.
If you are pregnant or plan on being pregnant soon and are seeking a VBAC, start preparing yourself now with these first three key steps.
Learn everything you can about VBAC - This is a good starting point for nearly anything new and important you take on in life. The more informed you are about VBAC -- from reputable sources -- the better off your chances of success and your experience will be. One of the easiest first ways to become informed is by reading: visit the International Cesarean Action Network (ICAN) and read through the resources in their "Education" section. Review the VBAC FAQs from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Visit VBAC.com and start reading through the multitude of posts. Check out the free resources at VBACfacts.com. Also, search in your area to see if anyone offers a VBAC-specific childbirth class.
Choose the right provider - Even though VBAC has been shown to be safe and is widely recommended, not all doctors support and/or use practices that actively encourage VBAC. Some doctors, obstetricians, or practices will call themselves VBAC friendly, but have very tight limitations for what they will allow. To find a doctor in your area who is known for being a true advocate and supporter of VBAC, your best bet is to connect with your local ICAN group. Alternatively, you can reach out to doulas or childbirth educators in your area, both of whom typically know the most well-recommended VBAC providers.
Find your support - One of the most common threads among people who have gone on a VBAC journey is the comfort they have found through a solid support network. This could include supportive family members, a partner, friends, or it may be through people who have gone through it before, like those families you meet in a childbirth class or online in a private group. Whoever it is and however you find them, take the time to find and build this support network. Your partner and family will likely become more supportive the more informed they too are about VBAC. Be sure to send them easy-to-understand resources, or have them attend a class with you. Be sure to also join your local ICAN group.
With the right information, support, and care provider, your experience with VBAC is more likely to be a positive one, even if you end up needing a repeat cesarean. The respectful, quality care and good support make all the difference in your birth experience.