5 Tips to Prepare for a Successful VBAC

If you’ve had a cesarean birth before, you may be curious about your options for your next delivery. Many women have the choice of scheduling a repeat cesarean birth or attempting vaginal birth after cesarean – or VBAC. Planning for either type of delivery requires a discussion with your provider, and before being cleared to attempt a VBAC, you must meet some basic criteria.

If your provider gives you the green light to attempt a VBAC, having a birth plan and discussing any concerns with your team will go a long way in making sure your birth is a positive experience, no matter what happens. Here are some of our favorite tips to help you plan for a successful VBAC.

Learn about VBAC.

If having a vaginal birth after a cesarean birth is what you want, it’s essential to do your research. The more you know and understand about VBACs, the better prepared you will be. This can include reviewing studies and articles online, watching informational videos, reading books and talking with your doctor. Many mamas and partners find it helpful to join in-person support groups where they have the opportunity to meet other hopeful, and successful, VBAC mamas.

Talk through all the risks and benefits with your provider before making a final decision on VBAC.

Find a VBAC-supportive provider.

One of the most important things you can do when attempting a successful VBAC is to find the right practitioner. Your provider should have a strong record of VBAC success and be clear and upfront that he or she supports mothers who’d like to try for a VBAC. You should feel comfortable with your provider and know that they will try everything possible to make your VBAC happen.

It’s important to understand that not all women are candidates for VBAC and some providers (doctors and midwives) may not recommend it. There are several factors that a physician or midwife will take into consideration before supporting a VBAC including assessing the type of incision a woman had for her previous cesarean birth as well as the cause for it.

Choose a VBAC-supportive place to give birth.

If you have the option of giving birth at a few different hospitals, take the time to tour them all and ask questions about their labor and delivery protocols. Not all hospitals can accommodate VBAC as they may not have the staff or resources to handle an emergency cesarean birth, should that be necessary.

Have a plan b.

Like any birth plan, the outcome of a VBAC can be hard to predict. While 60-80% of VBAC attempts are successful, it’s important to understand that there’s a chance you may end up having an unplanned cesarean birth after a trial of labor.

Having a plan b, and thinking about your preferences if things don’t go according to plan, can make even an unsuccessful VBAC feel like a win. Talk to your provider about what type of medication you’d prefer if surgery is necessary, whether it’s an epidural, spinal block, or combination of the two. Consider your previous birth story and what went well and what didn’t? This knowledge can help inform your VBAC birth plan.

Build a personal support system.

Having people in your life that you can talk to, and that believe in what your doing, is an important factor in your VBAC attempt. If you don’t have a support system, now is an excellent time to find one and there are plenty of online resources that can help. Talk to as many VBAC mamas as possible to get the advice and support you need. Finding other women to talk about what you’re going through, and hearing success stories can help.

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