Updated: May 21, 2022
How to advocate for yourself as you plan your VBAC
If you are planning a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), it’s natural to feel unique emotions of concern and even anxiety. When you dream of your VBAC you’re likely confronting worries of uterine rupture and whether or not your body is capable of vaginal birth. If you’re struggling to find the right provider, you may even be wondering how on earth you can achieve your vbac if your doctor isn’t supportive. While learning how to strengthen the Three Pillars of Confidence will help you prepare you prepare for you VBAC, I find that many women are especially concerned with how to self advocate when planning a VBAC. Today, I will share three tips for Self Advocacy for VBAC Moms.
Choosing the right provider
Asking open ended questions
First, it is crucial to choose a VBAC supportive doctor or midwife in your area.
One way you can do this is to reach out in local facebook groups or talk to local doulas and mothers who may have experience with local VBAC doctors and midwives. If you’re not turning up a lot of results that way, but are already seeing a provider for your pregnancy, you can start advocating for yourself in pregnancy by learning to ask the right questions. Interviewing your VBAC doctor or midwife thoroughly can give you insight into how well you will work together. If you find that you are unsure if your doctor will support your VBAC, you have three options: Find a new VBAC supportive provider, learn to become a strong self advocate, or give up your goals of a vbac and allow your provider to make all of the decisions. If you’re reading this blog, I’m going to assume you are at that second option: wanting to learn how to strongly advocate for yourself when your doctor does not support your VBAC birth plan.
So this leads us to step two: Getting VBAC Informed.
The best way to do this is to take a Childbirth Class that focuses on teaching VBAC moms their options. An alternative would be to learn about the options, statistics, and guidelines provided to obstetricians and midwives. A great resource for this is ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). I absolutely love citing ACOG VBAC Guidelines when discussing VBAC options with doctors. I’ve seen many providers change their approach to how they support their patients when they realize their patients are well informed on VBAC options and guidelines.
Which brings us to step 3: Learn how to ask open-ended questions that foster discussion.
Sometimes this can be gentle, other times it’s more assertive. But this is a wonderful way for you as the patient to show that you have knowledge, but are willing to hear what your provider has to say. Often providers will respond well to this form of communication and reciprocate the respect by listening to your concerns better. Here are three examples of open ended questions when advocating for your vbac during pregnancy:
“I understand you are concerned about uterine rupture, but I’ve read that the risk is between 0.4% and 0.8%, depending on the situation. Is there a reason that you prefer me to risk the known complications of a repeat cesarean, when I’m comfortable accepting the very low risk of uterine rupture?”
“Do you typically ignore ACOG’s practice guidelines, or do you only gate-keep options for VBAC patients?” “I respect your experience in birth and understand your concerns, however I have thoroughly educated myself on VBAC and believe that science has proven the benefits outweigh the risks. Is there any way for you to support me in my decision to plan a VBAC or is it best for me to find a new provider?”
If you’re planning a VBAC and dreaming of a different birth experience than your cesarean, I encourage you to join check out the FREE VBAC Success Class I created JUST FOR YOU!
Jaimie is a VBAC mother of four children, a Doula, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant who teaches mothers how to approach their VBAC with a sense of unbreakable confidence by teaching them their options during VBAC and how to effectively advocate for their VBAC when their doctors are not supportive of their birth plan. Jaimie teaches online VBAC birth preparation courses and works privately with clients prenatally to strengthen their birth confidence. Jaimie also supports women through their breastfeeding journeys by teaching prenatal breastfeeding classes, offering private breastfeeding preparation, and postpartum lactation consulting both online and in person. Contact Jaimie Now for more information on how she can support you as you prepare for a VBAC birth and/or breastfeeding!