Writing on the Babble blog Being Pregnant, Danielle Elwood notes that, despite the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recent guideline changes encouraging doctors to support women who want to try for a vaginal birth after having had a C-section (VBAC), in many areas of the country, women still have difficulty finding a doctor or hospital willing to support that choice.
“It got me thinking about this, when there are no other options, what happens to these women?,” Elwood writes. “Sadly the answer is pretty cut and dry. They are forced to undergo a cesarean section again, when it is not medically necessary, or even wanted in the cases of the mother. Sounds like a human rights violation considering this is not something they wish to take part in.”
Elwood, rightly, worries about the safety of these women who, bereft of options, sometimes take matters into their own hands, “like a woman I spoke to earlier in the year who planned to have an unassisted birth at home, because her local hospitals had banned VBAC, and it was illegal for a midwife to attend her delivery in her state because of outdated birthing laws.”
Elwood writes that the lack of choices these women face and possible consequences makes her angry. It makes me angry, too. I wholeheartedly agree that every woman who is giving birth should have access to the full panoply of choices available to her, and be able to weigh the benefits and demerits of each and make her own decision.
But as a woman who very deliberately chose to have a second C-section after having tumbled down a complication-strewn slope (low amniotic fluid led to induction led to an “idiosyncratic response,” which led to … you don’t want to know) into the first one, I also worry a little bit about a backlash brewing for women who don’t choose to attempt VBACs. Many, many women can undoubtedly have VBACs with general confidence in their safety, but for some of us, the risk of attempting a vaginal birth after a C-section feels immense, and ultimately, not worth taking. And I’d like to think that the choice to have a repeat C (which of course carries its own risks) will be as accepted by our fellow mothers as the choice to have a VBAC.
Can we agree that all women should be given all options, and be given support from their doctors and their fellow moms, whether they try for a VBAC or decide on an (increasingly unfashionable) repeat C?
Photo: Kelly Sue