Some women bounce back after a caesarean–section but I had one hell of a time recovering. I’d planned for a zen home birth but ended up with an elective c-section (overdue breech baby) and spent the next few weeks with reduced mobility and considerable pain.
When I discovered I was pregnant with my second baby, I couldn’t envisage myself looking after a toddler, a newborn and a dog all while healing from another c-section.
Cue the most unappealing of terms: VBAC – Vaginal Birth After Caesarean. A lovely NHS home birth midwife was the first to explain it to me when I was visiting my friend and her newborn baby.
She explained that I needn’t go through another caesarean, and that the NHS is very encouraging and supporting of mothers who want to attempt a vaginal birth after a c-section. So VBAC it was, or at least I was hoping it would be.
Mothers trialling a VBAC are classed as high risk (there’s a 1% chance of the scar rupturing so mothers are monitored continuously), and the likelihood of a repeat caesarean is between 25-30%. The reasons behind the first caesarean also have an impact on the success rate of the VBAC.
However, unlike with caesareans, the more successful VBACs a mother has the better the chances of less complications the next time around. Ceasareans, on the other hand, carry more risks the more you have them.
Personally, I knew that I would like to have more than two children so this was a factor I took into consideration. I also felt like I at least owed myself the chance to try and, if successful, it would make my life easier in the first few weeks of my newborn’s life.
Yes there are risks, but being in the hospital and with a team aware of my situation, I was very much in safe hands. I felt confident and excited about my chances of experiencing childbirth as nature had intended.
My VBAC was a success, and complication-free, but immediately after my baby was born I told my husband that if we ever had another I was definitely not going to put myself through that again!
The pain is not something that you can ever, ever prepare for. However, when I was walking around an hour later feeling myself but invariably sore, tired and bruised, I felt like it was worth it – the level of pain and time of recuperation was of no comparison to my caesarean, and I felt in control before, during and after.
We are expecting our third baby in May and I am once again hoping for a successful VBAC.
We second-time VBACers are still classed as higher risk than most other “normal” labouring mothers, the risk of uterine rupture remains (but is reduced as the scar has been “proven” in the last VBAC) so we still have to have the same level of constant monitoring.
It’s something my family now know a lot about, and, as my Dutch brother-in-law amusingly and fittingly said in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression, “I’ll VBAC”…