Common Concerns with Experiencing a VBAC

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Do you remember when you discovered that you were pregnant for the first time?  Can you recall that day, that very moment that you found out you were expecting, grabbed the first calendar that you could find, and circled your estimated due date?  And after years of having been told that the medical establishment knows what’s in our best interest, you put your trust in your healthcare provider to see you through what was undoubtedly viewed as a fragile pregnancy.  You communicated to your physician the importance of having a drug-free labor and vaginal birth, and you believed them through your tears and clenched fists when they told you that it was time to consider the needs of the child over your own desires.

Perhaps you took an alternative approach to traditional medicine and spent countless hours doing your own research, reading books and blogs, and watching videos on having a natural childbirth.  There were the endless nights that you stayed up alone, drafting and editing your birth plan, mentally and physically preparing for the natural birth that was so important to you. You consulted with physicians and a doula and took childbirth classes.  You were in control of your life and body and were ready for the birth of your baby.

But despite your intentions and regardless of your approach, you ended up receiving the caesarean-section that you had desperately wanted to avoid. The intensity of the moment was more than you expected, but ultimately you were blessed to have your beautiful child held close to your chest, their little heartbeat pressed close to yours.  In the days and weeks that followed, you treasured every moment that you spent with your newborn.  But the memory of your birth experience lingered, and you were left with a sharp feeling of failure and regret. 

Dear mother you are not alone with these feelings.  According to Nicette Jukelevics, published author and speaker on caesarean sections, “women’s emotional reactions and adjustment to cesarean birth vary widely. Although some women recover fairly quickly and accept the surgical birth as a necessary step to a healthy baby and to becoming a mother, others experience various degrees of sadness, disappointment, anger, violation, loss of self-esteem, guilt, depression, and sometimes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”  And soon after perhaps you find that are pregnant with your second baby. Congratulations! As you consider you how you will spend the next nine months, you certainly will have a lot of things to think about.

All too frequently a client tells me that they plan to have a c-section with their second or third child because she had one with the first baby.  And as a mother of my own beautiful daughter, I always respect another mother’s decision on how to approach her own pregnancy and birth experience.  But I also understand that such decisions can be partially based on the trepidation of having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).  As a therapist and birth doula, and as a supporter of all mothers in my community, it is important to me that my clients have access to the wealth of information available so that they can make an informed decision that will leave them with a feeling of pride and satisfaction. And the research shows that VBACs are neither uncommon nor unsafe.  So as you move on with the most wonderful experience of your life, I encourage you to consider all of your options and to remember that you are not alone.

– Rebecca Oakley, Owner and Founder of Magnolia Pregnancy Resources

For additional information on VBACs and support groups, please contact us at or visit the following websites:

ICAN of Atlanta

Emotional Healing After Cesarean

A VBAC Birth Story

VBAC is Not Necessarily Riskier in a Birth Center than in the Hospital

Making a Mountain Out of a Molehill