You’ve done your research, taken our How to VBAC Course, found a supportive provider and processed your previous birth or births – you’re ready for your VBAC! But then, enter non-stop questions from family, friends and sometimes even your partner…
“When are you due?”
“Have you scheduled your c-section?”
“How long will your doctor let you go?”
“When are you getting induced?”
“Is that really necessary?”
“How does your husband feel about that?”
“Isn’t that super risky?”
“Aren’t you scared?”
“Why would you put your baby through that?”
Planning a VBAC can feel lonely for a number of different reasons. It can be hard to find a provider in your area who is more supportive than tolerant (check here for some suggestions on tackling this hurdle). Maybe you’re the first in your circle of friends to want a VBAC. And sometimes, the people closest to you just don’t understand, don’t think it’s important and might not be supportive at all. If you’re feeling a little lonely on your road to VBAC, we want you to know, we understand, we’re here for you, and we want to offer a few tips for talking with your partner, family and friends about your decision.
Feel Confident in Your Decision
Possibly the most important part of sharing your decision with others is feeling comfortable with it in the first place. Doing your research, learning the facts, taking a VBAC preparation course, listening to birth stories and processing your fears can really help you feel confident in your decision. Once you have a firm ground to stand on, you’ll feel better fielding questions.
Remind Them that No Choice is Risk-Free
Something that most of the general population doesn’t realize is that repeat cesareans pose risks to mom and baby, too. A c-section is a major surgery, one that not only requires deliberate recovery, but also one that gets more risky each time it’s repeated. Repeat c-sections can have longer operation and recovery times and carry the possibility of wound infections, blood transfusions, placenta accreta (where the placenta grows into the c-section scar) and breathing problems for the baby (NCT, 2018). While many of these risks are typically low, it’s important to know and help your loved ones understand that repeat c-sections aren’t totally risk-free. You can find even more on this topic here.
Many people instinctively think that attempting a VBAC is high risk or at least more risky than a c-section, but in most cases, that’s not the case. There are potential risks to every choice we make in the birthing space. Getting comfortable with your personal risk tolerance can really help you make a confident decision (and confidently share that decision, if you choose to).
Remember – Typically Everyone Has Good Intentions
One mindset shift that can really help when those seemingly critical questions come your way is to remember that most everyone in your circle has good intentions (or so we hope!). Your friends and family care about you and your new baby! Unfortunately, birth has become dramatized in the media, often associated with fear. There is a lot of misunderstanding and mis-information when it comes to VBAC. While it’s never ok for someone to disrespect your choices or try to influence your decision, you may consider giving them the benefit of the doubt. It could just be that they need a little help understanding. If appropriate, offer to share this article to help them understand your decision better.
Tips for Coping with Skeptics
Sometimes you might get to a point where you’re done talking, you’re done trying to educate, you’re done trying to defend your decision to have a VBAC. Here are some ideas for coping with discouragement, unsupportive relationships and the feelings that accompany that.
Educate your partner. It’s not uncommon that partners are nervous about birth and hesitant to support VBACs (in fact, we see this a lot in our social media community discussions). If you and your partner are working through this, here are some ideas.
- Take a VBAC course together. The material covered in our Prep Course For Parents is so comprehensive, and we are told over and over again that the course helps partners feel more comfortable with pursuing a VBAC or HBAC. Learning the facts and ways your partner can help advocate for you and your agreed upon birth plan can really support the alignment of your birth goals. Our course is self-paced, and many couples take it while older kids are napping, or on the weekend. You may also want to check with your provider or birthplace, as they sometimes offer their own version of a VBAC-related course. Doing something like this together can be a game-changer for your peace of mind and birth plan as well as a really positive bonding experience.
- Encourage your partner to listen to birth stories or VBAC-related podcasts. When I was pregnant with my VBA2C babies, I listened to every single episode of The VBAC Link podcast (listen on Apple or on Spotify). Anytime I would hear a story that sounded similar to our previous experiences or something I hoped for my VBAC experience, I would immediately share it with my husband. I would take note of specific situations, decisions or turning points within episodes and suggest he listen to the snippets (“check out min: 22-44”). Not only did this help him feel more comfortable with VBAC births, but it helped him understand my desire, my vision and my reason for wanting a VBAC. Not all partners want to listen to all the stories, but I highly suggest the episode on what VBAC dads want you to know.
- Remind your partner that they have an important role to play in your birth. Sometimes it takes having an honest conversation about specific ways they can support you to get them on board with your birth plan. Check out this blog for helpful tips on ways your partner can support you during labor and birth.
Choose what details you share. No one has the right to any of your birth information, unless you want them to know. Maybe you only share your birth month instead of your due date or part of your birth plan instead of the whole thing. Toward the end of your pregnancy, you might only accept visits and respond to messages from people you know support your decision. And you always have the right to end a conversation, walk away or leave the room if you don’t feel comfortable.
Ask your partner to be the main communicator. This is especially helpful once labor starts, but you may decide to have your partner field all “have you had the baby yet” texts and “when are you scheduling your c-section” phone calls once they start coming in. Let your family and friends know that they can contact your partner if they have any birth or baby-related questions until further notice. Your partner can decide which of those conversations are important for you to know about.
Inundate yourself with positivity. Create a curation of inspiration! Build a birthing playlist and put it on repeat (ours is a great place to start). Listen to that birth story that fills you with hope every day (find lots of them here). Fall asleep to birth meditations. Take yourself on a walk in your favorite park, get an afternoon nap, buy yourself a special treat and remember that you are worth taking care of. Do the things that bring you joy.
And an extra ProTip – Start listening to our podcast early and throughout your pregnancy. Take notes and bookmark your favorite episodes. Maybe listen to those favorite episodes and stories the last couple weeks of your pregnancy, (some favorites… this one and this one).
Rely on affirmations. There is great power in speaking life over yourself and your birthing experience. Find (or write your own) birthing affirmations. These can be as simple as “I trust myself” or as specific as “my body & my baby are working together to have a vaginal birth.” Post them around your home. Say them out loud every day and every night before you fall asleep. Build your confidence with every word. And remember, according to the American Pregnancy Association, over 80% of parents who attempt a VBAC will be successful!
Take a break. Here’s your permission to take a break from the people, the groups, the social media and the places that are outright unsupportive. Unfollow, unfriend, unsubscribe, block, disengage, remove – you’re allowed. A break in a relationship doesn’t have to be forever, but it could be helpful for the time being. It’s important to have people in your life right now who feed your confidence and radiate positivity.
Planning a VBAC can be a lonely place, but to make sure that you always have a place where you feel welcomed, we’re here for you every step of the way.
If you’re not there already, you’ll love our Facebook community and Instagram account. And to help you feel even more empowered and prepared, be sure to check out our How to VBAC Course for Parents.
And always remember, no matter what anyone else has to say… you know what’s right for you and your baby. You’ve got this!
We’re so grateful to be on this journey with you!
Don’t forget to join our Facebook community, follow-us on Instagram, check out our Parents VBAC and HBAC Education course and give our podcast a listen where lots of incredible women share their VBAC journeys.
Source – “Planning a repeat cesarean birth,” National Childbirth Trust, June 2018, https://www.nct.org.uk/labour-birth/different-types-birth/caesarean-birth/planning-repeat-caesarean-birth