Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ask Ashley - VBACs

There are those of you out there who love c-sections, think they are the greatest way to give birth ever--the bees knees, if you will.

If you are one of those people, click the little x at the top right corner of your screen, 'cause this post is not for you.

Today's question:

Hey Ashley,

I have a question. Who was your OB/GYN that "allowed" you to have a VBAC? I have a lot of friends and my sister that want to try it but can't find a Dr that will agree to it. Thanks for the advice. Keep them commin'.



Ahhhhhh..... the age old "how can I find a doctor who will permit me to use my vagina as it was intended" inquiry. (Sorry if it's crass to use the big "V", but it is what it is.) God made our bodies to function a certain way, but doctors have grown themselves a God complex. You have to remember, doctors are also businesspeople. This is their livlihood and they have to find a way to make money. Being as this is America and he have the whole capitalism thing going, when people find a way to make money they like to do more of it. Doctors are no exception. C-sections take up less of their time, are obviously more predicable than vaginal delivery AND doctors charge more money for them (as much as 30% more!). Add to that the health care climate in our nation and the fact that we like to sue our doctors every chance we get, and doctors don't have any real motiviation to attend VBACs anymore. (Disclaimer: I know some doctors aren't bad, but for my purposes--Guilt by association).

Only in America is the surgical birth rate (a.k.a. c-section rate) approaching the 40% mark.

I covered in my previous "Ask Ashley" that it was Dr. Crandall (the son) who attended my VBAC. Dr. Crandall (the father) will as well, as will Dr. Heitmann, or so I'm told. It is not as simple as just finding a doctor who "claims" he will agree to a trial of labor. A lot of times doctors will use the "bait and switch" routine--tell you what you want to hear, and then when you're 39 weeks and dying to pop that eight pounder out, they start dangling a c-section in front of you like it's food to a starving man. YOU have to decide. Then, you must commit and persist.

Full disclosure: Mason was a vaginal delivery. My second, Cole, was my c-section. So I had a very big point on my side with my VBAC fight that I've already had a vaginal delivery.

If your friends or sister are serious about VBAC, they should know that they are in for a fight. I fully believe it is a fight worthy fighting. There are a few important keys.

1. Educate yourself. Nothing scares doctors more than women who know what they're talking about. Doctors are basically smart people who have read books. You can read books too and know what they know and aren't telling you. Read all you can read about VBAC and its risks. Also read about c-sections and their risks (cause they are plentiful) and decide for yourself which is the set of risks you'd rather undertake. I recommend all women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant to read Pushed by Jennifer Block. It's a bit heavy at times, but eye opening as to what how women have been lead along like cattle when it comes to childbirth. Keep in mind as you read all these risks, opinions, stories, etc. that even first time women delivering vaginally have risks. Nothing is 100% safe and without risks. Nothing worth having ever is.

2. Have the people around you on your side. When you are in labor, in the throes of pain and agony, the last thing you need is someone trying to sway you towards what they want. This is about you. YOUR experience. If your mother-in-law is against it, thinks it's too risky, don't tell her. Call her when you're holding your baby in your arms. If your husband is against it, make him understand. The bottom line is, it's your body and people need to respect your wishes for it. Have someone with you that knows your desire for VBAC and will stick up for you when you can't stick up for yourself. If someone needs me and they live in Naples, I will be that person. I feel THAT strongly about VBAC and helping people achieve it. It's my gift to my daughter to empower her, and I do that by empowering other women. I don't want her to grow up and give birth in a world where all babies are sliced out of their mothers.

I could go on and on about this, and even venture into reasons behind and ways to avoid a primary c-section, which would of course make the VBAC issue a moot point. But I suppose that's another post, should it happen that someone wants to hear my rant about that, too.

I don't judge people who elect to have c-sections for whatever reason. It is, after all, not my body. But I do judge the doctors and that fact that their methods, greediness, and misleading ways are leading women down the wrong path. Knowledge is power and a lot of people lack the power because they lack the knowledge.

Gotta question? Email steppedonalego[at]gmail dot com.


The Lovealls said...

Hey Ashley-
Thanks for your honest post. I am Miranda's sister and my husband and I are moving back to the Naples area in December and we want to start trying for our next kid.
I ended up with a c-section basically b/c my doctor (just like you said above), wanted to get me in and out and b/c she was lazy. I had a VERY healthy pregnancy and my labor went VERY quickly (I was only labored for about 5 hours before I started pushing and my doc said it was time for a c-section).
Anyways, I am very frustrated about my first birth experience and I am pretty determined to have a VBAC (in Naples) so I guess I need to do some research. Thanks for your advise and I may be contacting you in the future when it is time for me to find a doctor. :)
Thanks again,
Emily Karl Loveall

Ashley said...

Emily, I am nothing if not honest! : ) I'm sorry to hear about your birth experience. If you have any questions when you get here, I am happy to help. In the meantime, read up on VBACs and I highly recommend the book I posted about, Pushed. Also get your medical records from your doctor and contact the hospital where you delivered to get your records there--make sure they give you the operating report! ~Ashley