With over a million c-sections performed annually, the majority unnecessarily, it is no surprise there is a huge interest in VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). While most women can have a successful VBAC birth, many care providers discourage women from even attempting a VBAC. If you find yourself facing resistance from your doctor or midwife, Jennifer Hoffman of HealthyMoving.com is here sharing her tips for overcoming opposition to your VBAC birth plan. 

I was enthralled as Jennifer posted earlier this year about her struggle to achieve her VBAC birth plan in the face of opposition from her care provider.  The strength she showed through her successful VBAC story is really astounding. Please welcome Jennifer!

Mom holding pregnant belly Text: VBAC Birth A Guide to Overcoming Opposition

The Little Man pictured below came into this world in the most beautiful birth five months ago. While my labor and delivery were marked by an amazing peace, the journey to my VBAC was anything but peaceful. I have never fought so hard for something in my life. Thankfully, my husband and doula were a constant stream of support and encouragement.

I’m so grateful Shannon invited me to share some of that support with you. While more than three quarters of woman who attempt a vaginal birth after a cesarean (“VBAC”) will be successful, many women are discouraged from even attempting a VBAC.
Smiling sleeping baby boy born via successful VBAC despite doctor opposition.
The Little Man born via successful VBAC despite doctor opposition.


Early Objections

Some providers begin discouraging VBACs early in pregnancy. In their highly informative book, Optimal Care in Childbirth: The Case for a Physiologic Approach, Henci Goer and Amy Romano say over 95% of woman can labor safely for a VBAC without uterine scar issues (see Chapter 6). They go on to provide studies showing the safety of VBACs for women with more than one prior cesarean, women with less than 18 months since the prior birth as well as older mothers (see Chapter 6). If your provider is discouraging a VBAC for these or other reasons at the beginning of your pregnancy, I highly recommend a consultation with another provider. If you need help finding another provider (or you just need moral support and encouragement), the International Caesarean Awareness Network (“ICAN”) is an invaluable resource. Check out their directory of VBAC-friendly providers or find a local chapter to visit.

Third Trimester Objections

The midwives and obstetricians in my practice were originally supportive, even encouraging of my VBAC plans. But, at the start of my third trimester, things changed drastically. In my prior pregnancy, we learned my daughter was footling breech at 35 weeks, and my water broke spontaneously about ten days later. So, I agreed to an ultrasound to “confirm fetal position” at about 32 weeks. While I don’t regret that decision, I was woefully unprepared for what happened after that ultrasound. While we confirmed my son was head down (all my optimal fetal positioning exercises paid off!), I left that appointment with a referral to the perinatologist since he was measuring big and had a nuchal cord (cord was wrapped around his neck). One appointment led to another with the perinatologist and by week 36, I was visiting them for bi-weekly non-stress tests.

A pregnant woman shows off her baby bump. She went on to have a successful VBAC.
Jennifer fought against doctor opposition and had a successful VBAC.

At each appointment the threat of an emergency cesarean loomed large with concerns ranging from low fluid levels and high fetal weight** predictions to heart decelerations and arrested fetal growth. All along, in my gut, I had a peace that my son was just fine. I was holding my VBAC plans with an open hand – I believed it was the best plan for both my son and myself, but I was willing to hear solid information that indicated otherwise. Both my and my husband’s intuition told us to stay the course. So, my best advice for overcoming “last minute” VBAC objections from your provider is to check your gut. Do you feel a peace about your VBAC plans? Are you confident in your body’s ability to birth your baby naturally? There are a few things you can do to ensure an open line of communication between you and your intuition.

**A note from Shannon: At the 36 week ultrasound, Jen’s baby was estimated to be a whopping 9 pounds already! Since babies can grow around half a pound a week in the last weeks of pregnancy that a full term baby could have been 11 pounds. Of course, many women give birth naturally and without complication to big babies, but these care providers were concerned. At the 38 week ultrasound the baby was measuring only 7 lb 13 oz, causing the doctors to diagnose baby with arrested fetal development. Amazing that they never questioned the accuracy of their estimate. Baby was born just one day later perfectly healthy at 7 lb 15 oz. Thanks to Jen for letting me share this side story as so many women are scared into unnecessary inductions and eventual c-sections due to inaccurate late ultrasounds. 

5 Tips for How to Overcome Opposition to your VBAC

1. Feed your brain:

Read books like Optimal Care in Childbirth: The Case for a Physiologic Approach (ICAN has a wonderful recommended reading list here), so that you are an informed participant in your own obstetrical care. It is important to know, for example, that most women with a prior cesarean will give birth vaginally, including women who had a prior cesarean for a delay in progress or women with high body mass index (BMI), a predicted large baby or a pregnancy that continues beyond the estimated due date.

2. Take care of your body:

I kept a very active exercise routine throughout my entire pregnancy. I also maintained a very healthy diet and drank lots of water (between 112-128 ounces a day). There is no doubt that we are more in tune with our bodies, when we are taking care of them.

3. Spend time every day in a relaxation that you remain awake to observe:

I find that I’m best able to hear my intuition when I’m relaxing or mediating.

4. Visualize, visualize, visualize:

Imagine your ideal birth in as much detail as possible. What will you be feeling? How will you manage your contractions? What will your body do to birth your baby?

5. Hire a doula:

Especially if you agree to any third trimester testing, it is absolutely critical that you have a calming voice that reminds you about the false positives of many of these tests. I highly value and trust a woman’s intuition, but it is hard to hear your gut talking when a doctor is telling you that you might lose your baby if you don’t agree to a c-section immediately.

Intuition is a mother’s most valuable advisor, in pregnancy, labor and delivery and beyond. Stripping away all the things that interfere with your ability to hear it, is well worth the effort!

HeadshotJennifer Hoffman is not your average yogi. A public accountant turned certified yoga instructor, Jen now balances an active practice with her busy life as a blogger, mother, and wife. The key to this balance is simple: Jen lives life with intention. At HealthyMoving.com, she encourages her readers to do the same, writing with a heart for whole and healthy lives on parenting, faith, relationships, and, of course, yoga. Jen teaches Virtual Yoga Classes from her home studio in Northern Virginia and relies on her husband Derek to keep their two lovely children – and two furry Labradors – off camera through Namaste.

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