Making the decision to have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) often does not come easily. It's a very personal decision that families will make after much consideration and deliberation. If your previous (or first) birth was a cesarean, how will you make the decision about your current (or next) birth? Where will you seek information? Who will you talk to? What care provider will you seek out, and how will you know she's supportive? How will you work with your spouse or partner to make sure you both are comfortable with the decision? What will birth look like during a VBAC? How will you work through the emotions of your last birth? How would you handle having a repeat cesarean?
All of these questions -- and more -- can be answered by taking a childbirth class that focuses specifically on VBAC. Ideally, you would find and sign up for an in-person VBAC class in your area. But in some areas, VBAC classes aren't yet available. Your next best option is an online VBAC class, which is why Lamaze has created the "VBAC: Informed and Ready" class as part of their online course offerings.
The Lamaze VBAC class is an interactive, online, take-at-your-own-pace class that is clear, straightforward, and informative. It presents factual, evidence-based information about the risks and benefits of VBAC, as well as helpful tips on how to gather more information to make your decision. The goal of the class is to enable you to gather the information you need to make an informed and confident decision about choosing to have a VBAC or repeat cesarean.
As I "sat through" the class, I enjoyed how easy it was to move through the different sections -- it wasn't like listening to a PowerPoint presentation or lecture, but rather an active experience, including quizzes at the end of each section, an area to jot down notes, a live discussion board to review others' questions and post your own, and follow-along video clips of one mom's journey to VBAC. My major take-aways from the class were:
- Mixed emotions surrounding VBAC and repeat cesarean are expected -- and normal
- There's a lot of conflicting and inaccurate info about VBAC on the internet and from care providers
- Your feelings about your birth may change over time, and there's no right or wrong way to feel
- You don't need to make a decision on the spot with your care provider
- Cesarean (and birth) happens to a whole family, and your partner is going through an individual experience too
- It's important to ask the right questions to know if your care provider is really supportive of VBAC
- Hiring a doula can be very helpful during a VBAC birth
- You can still have an active VBAC birth even though continuous monitoring is usually required
- It's ok -- and encouraged -- to seek professional therapy to work through difficult emotions and feelings about your birth
Perhaps some of the most helpful tools included with the class are the care provider questions worksheet, the birth planning worksheet, and the partner communication worksheet. These resources are invaluable!
If a VBAC class is not available in your area, consider taking the Lamaze VBAC online class -- this simple and fun course will go a long way in preparing you to make the best decision about your birth after cesarean.