Birth trauma trigger warning
Anti-VBAC policies and attitudes take their toll on women.
Sabrina’s (former) obstetrician yelled at her for putting HIM at risk after her VBAC baby was born at home.
I saw almost every Ob in our tri-state area (DC, VA, MD) for a VBAC after my nurse midwife and her midwifery colleagues were fired from Georgetown University Hospital when I was 5 months pregnant.
Here are some of the responses I got:
Female, Duke University educated OB-
“Really, do you want to mess with “down there” when you can schedule your C-section and be done with it?”
Male Ob- “Your pelvis is just too small to birth anything over 5lbs.”
Final Male Ob (who I was seeing along with my Certified Professional Midwives until he said this at my 36 week visit)-
“I know I said you could do a trial of labor with this pregnancy, but that was before you gained another 5 pounds. I now feel we should schedule your C-section, as I will be on vacation on your due date and your baby is getting too big.”
The last OB I saw before my home birth called me on my due date to see why I had not scheduled my c-section and I told him with a huge smile and joy in my heart that the cooing he was hearing was my 1 day old daughter. I had signed nothing with his practice and had only had 2 appointments with him. He knew I was thinking about a home birth, but was scared to birth out of the hospital.
I was very excited to inform and maybe even educate him about my safe, healthy, home birth. He proceeded to yell at me and tell me how I had put his practice at risk. He told me I was irresponsible and that he was dropping me from his practice. I was shaken and tearing up- much to the horror of my 14 year old stepdaughter sitting across the table from me during the phone conversation.
My skin crawls when I hear about women being subjected to legal action after disobeying their OBs during labor. That most certainly could have been me….
Elizabeth wishes she had researched VBAC when she was younger.
I was high risk during my second pregnancy, as my first ended at 25 weeks with an emergency c-section (truly necessary). I mentioned to my OB that I wanted a VBAC with #2, and he flat out said, “no OB in town will perform a VBAC”. I don’t know if this was true or not, but I was more afraid of another child dying after birth than HOW my child was born, so I gave in to the scheduled c-section without complaint and I didn’t bother to research.
After my 32 week appt with my perinatologist, he told me he no longer considered me high risk since we made it to the third trimester with no problems. I still ended up with the c-section, and while for over a year I was completely happy with my choice since I had a healthy, live child, I’ve come to regret it. I was young with both deliveries (18 and 20) and was not informed at all on what my choices were. Now I’ve got my next childbirth planned (water homebirth vba2c) and have talked with a midwife about my options, and I’m years away from having another pregnancy.
Sarah is one of many, many women who find themselves between a rock and hard place because midwifery care is inaccessible to her, no medical practice will attend a VBAC and she’s left with the choice of planned CBAC or planned UBAC.
I had my first 2 children vaginal and then got duped with 3 because my doctor said my baby would be too big and pulled the dead baby card and i had a section before i ever went into labor then when four and five came along i was told “i dont do vbacs” and now that #6 is due in june i want to have a vbac so bad but nobody will do it in my area so its another section or unassisted birth because i cant afford a midwife.
Heather also felt stuck making the “choice” to have an elective repeat cesarean and regrets consenting to it.
My first unnecesarean came after 16 hours of laboring in the hospital. A nurse came in a few hours after I checked in and broke my water (even though I asked that no one speed up my labor, since my husband was 10 hours away and on his way). A few hours later another nurse came in and told me it was time to push, though I felt no urge to do so. …
After pushing for a while, the doctor came in and tried to use a vacuum on my baby, even though he had only hardly descended. When that failed, they prepped the OR for a cesarean. Note that for months, half my baby’s head was covered with blisters and full of fluid from where the dr used the vacuum, and he had trouble nursing, since any sucking gave him a headache.
For my second, there was no medical excuse at all. I first told my dr I planned for a ERC, but then I did my homework, and quickly switched that plan to VBAC. About a month before my son was due, my dr informed me that the hospital just changed it’s policy and no longer allows VBAC. The nearest hospital that still allowed VBAC was more than 3 hours away, and in a different state (where my insurance doesn’t work). The nearest in-state hospital that allowed VBAC was more than 5 hours away. In my state midwives aren’t allowed to attend VBAC. Feeling trapped and helpless, I “consented” to a unnecesarean. I’ve been riddled with guild ever since, and no one (except other victims like me) seems to understand my “problem.”
Being flagged as a difficult patient all over town made for a funny storyline on Seinfeld, but Casey didn’t find it entertaining to be known as the “inconsiderate” patient.
My first birth was an Emergency C/S at 10cm, transfer via ambulance from birthing center to the hospital nearly 15 years ago.
Second child came along nearly 13 years ago in the same county, there was no issue with my hospital VBAC. Induction at 42weeks, epidural at 8cm, pushed for 3+ hours, 4th degree epi and assisted vacuum delivery, HORRIFIC!
Third child came 11 years ago in another state (all births but this was FL, he was born in GA), found a wonderful Midwife that just so happen to be the very first who did hospital births in Central GA, wonderful un-medicated VBAC.
Fourth birth nearly 8 years ago, during this time, I found out that in my area in FL VBACs were no longer an option. I had been receiving prenatal care at a birthing center, at my 32week apt I found out that when I went into labor I would have to meet the MW at the hospital across the road, I had not been notified until this moment that I was not “allowed to birth in the center due to my high risk c/s 7 years prior”
Walked out of the center, never returned. Found a home birth MW at 36 weeks preg that took me on with NO QUESTIONS at all, gave birth to my daughter in my bed, in my home the day after our EDD with NO COMPLICATIONS.
Fifth birth just over 5 yrs ago, Had military insurance at this time, HB.MW did not accept such. I called and called to find an sOB for prenatal, I had apt after apt with different sOBs.. only to be told by each one that UNLESS I pre-consented to a c/s that they could not see me for prenatal care! Finally found a sOB 2 hours away that would allow me to VBAC, I had absolutely NO INTENT what so ever to birth in the hosp, but wanted to be sure baby was healthy and everything was safe for a HB. At 35 weeks sOB “fired me” because I refused the Rhogam shot as well as the sugar test.
2 days before our EDD my daughter was born at home with the assistance of the midwife who attended my first daughters birth. It was more difficult this time, we had serious hemorrhaging, but all was under control in minutes due to this amazing woman!
Sixth birth 21 months ago, went with the home birth midwife and gave birth to a happy and healthy baby girl in my bed!!!
Best part of my story… If I chose to have an “annual exam” I have to drive two hours south of my town to be seen by a GYN. There is NO GYN/sOB who will even see me just for a PAP due to my ‘inconsiderate nature and lack of care for my unborn child(ren)’
Kelly’s obstetrician equated VBAC with running a red light.
I had a bait and switch OB, who told me at 35 weeks that I wasn’t allowed to go to 40 weeks. I should have known b/c sometimes when I’d bring up my ideas, like staying home as long as possible during labor, she said “we’ll talk about that later”. I got my hospital VBAC by avoiding prenatal appointments after 38 weeks :) went into labor on my own at 41 weeks and 3 days. Afterwards my OB said she would have given me a CS but also added: “sometimes you go through a red light and nothing happens”
Glenda was just dropped by her care provider at seven months pregnant, even though she has already had one VBAC.
Very timely as I just got ‘dropped’ by my doctor after a 7 month battle with a VBAC-ban hospital. Stupid thing is I already have one VBAC under my belt which sets me up very nicely for a success w/ a second. Am now planning a homebirth with a supportive midwife!
Cynthia wasn’t disappointed with her first cesarean, but she was admittedly scared by her lack of post-op responsiveness to her son. Concerned about complications associated with multiple cesareans, she took steps to increase her chances of having a perfectly boring VBAC. Pregnant again, she and her family hope for more boredom.
After 24 hours we talked about a c-section and of course at the time was so exhausted and afraid of the pitocin, well that plus the GBS status and having leaked amniotic fluid for 24 hours, I consented. He was born 9lbs 6oz, 22”, and cried until he was in my arms in the recovery room. It was a boring procedure until my son was born, except after he was delivered I remember the doctors getting very very quiet and I remember a voice in my head saying “You can stay or you can go.” I didn’t care, I felt like I was floating in warm blue water and it didn’t matter what happened to me. Turns out I lost about 1L of blood at that time.
After the surgery I was fine, needed nothing more then ibuprofen and that only for a short time. I nursed my son easily, well, with the help of a nipple shield (he has oral insensitivity, it’s him really and he needed that the whole time we nursed for 12 months). I had little to no residual pain. In short I had an awesome outcome to my surgery, except the fact that I didn’t care scares the crap out of me.
After about 1 hour 20 minutes I pushed my second son, 10lbs 5oz, 23” out, no shoulder dystocia, only 2nd degree tearing at that, at just before midnight. It was a boring, normal, birth and it was what I wanted - I was at no time near death and I cared that I would be there.
That’s it, it wasn’t earth shattering, it was a victory more for my husband then me in some ways as he is still in awe, but for me it was something that millions of women have been through, a boring birth (we want boring). I am thrilled I avoided more adhesions, there were some from the surgery I did have and even during this pregnancy I felt some breaking up. I don’t want to put myself at risk because I know that puts my family at risk, and I still have so many children in my heart. I have been very lucky, far more lucky then most women who have had a c-section, heck even my surgery was a “good” one. I expect this pregnancy to remain boring and my birth this time to, again, be very boring. I’m okay with that. [Full story]
New mom Tash hopes for a VBAC next time she gives birth, feeling robbed of the experience of giving birth.
Sixteen weeks ago I failed to give birth. I use that word quite deliberately, failed, because that is what I feel happened. I didn’t have a medical emergency that required intervention, my life, and the life of my baby weren’t in danger, I just wasn’t in labour. My caregivers were either unwilling or unable to support a wait and see approach so despite there being no medical need, I was given an induction which ultimately ended in a C-section.
I sit here, several months on and my anger is still undiminished that I was robbed of the chance to give birth. That one act, which so fundamentally defines you as a woman, which on a primeval and visceral level tells you that you ‘work’ robbed from me because of a lack of patience.
Before I even left the hospital I knew things would be different next time, I knew that I wouldn’t allow ego to deprive me of something so fundamental to my self esteem, my womanhood, me. VBAC is a right, but more than that it is a sense of hope. The feeling of being cut open to save your baby from the failings of your body to operate to a modern timetable is a terrible one, and an un necessary one. VBAC is something that those of us who have gone through such an experience cling to, as a way of reclaiming our bodies and our birth experiences.
It is not important to rationalise why the birth experience is such a fundamental part of being a woman, the point is, it just is. Modern medicine is so ready to strip away anything seen as unnecessary, but it cannot strip away that fact. The sooner that message starts to get through, the better off we’ll all be!
Carol was active duty military during her second pregnancy. She wanted a VBAC, but was told by her doctor that he was her superior and that if she didn’t show up for her cesarean, she would be charged with failure to obey a direct order. She felt raped.
Lilah’s story began seven years ago with the birth of my oldest son, Patrick. At the time, I was young and very uneducated about birth. His birth story is the story of so many others. At a prenatal appointment, I was found to be in labor. I was admitted, induced, didn’t dilate… emergency c-section. The anesthesia didn’t work, and I felt the physical pain of being cut open. I was devastated, but trusted that the doctors did what was best for me and my baby. However, I was sure that there was another way to birth, and if there was a next time my birth wouldn’t be the same.
Shortly after Patrick’s birth, I found out I was pregnant. I was so very frightened to go through the birth process again. I hadn’t completely recovered (physically or mentally) from his birth, and finding out I was pregnant brought up all of the feelings I was trying so hard to repress. Anger, resentment, failure, fear. I wasn’t sure about giving birth vaginally, but knew I couldn’t willingly lie on the operating table again. I read all the right books, ate all the right foods, I found the right care provider. I was on my way to birthing vaginally after my disastrous surgical birth.
At the time, I was active duty military. The care provider I found was a kind midwife, who encouraged all women to attempt a VBAC. She was pretty supportive through my entire pregnancy, and assured me many times that I would do a wonderful job giving birth the way nature intended. When I was 38 weeks pregnant, I tried to make an appointment with the midwife I had grown to like, but she had transferred. Begrudgingly, I made my appointment with the doctor that was taking her place. At my first and only appointment with him, he informed me he didn’t generally “allow VBAC’s” but if I went into labor before my due date I could try, otherwise my c-section had already been scheduled.
I didn’t want another c-section, especially for a non-medical reason. I wasn’t willing to give up my plans for a vaginal birth so easily. I informed him I wouldn’t be showing up for the surgery he scheduled. He happily informed me that he was my superior and that if I didn’t show up, I would be charged with “Failure to obey a direct order” Again, I was devastated. I had physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared my entire pregnancy for the vaginal birth I longed for. I tried going to the commanding officer of the hospital and pleading with her. She suggested that I listen to my doctor and used the line “As long as you have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters” I couldn’t believe that my dreams for a vaginal birth were being crushed by one heartless man. I consulted Navy legal and asked them what I could do, but they had no advice. My time was running out, so I tried everything to force my body into labor. It didn’t work, I just wasn’t ready. My husband was deployed, and I was so afraid that charges would be brought up against me and my children would be taken away that I just gave in. So, on my due date, I walked into the hospital, laid on the operating table and cried my eyes out.
My second son came into this world through birth rape. That really is the best way I can describe it. After his birth, I suffered from post-partum depression, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted any more children. I became mildly obsessed with researching birth. I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on. I needed to know if there was a chance for me to ever truly birth a child. While researching I stumbled upon stories of home birth. I was amazed and fascinated. The birth stories I read sounded so unlike the hospital births I had witnessed. They were calm, relaxed, and beautiful. The birth was a special event, not just a medical event. The mothers had a voice, an opinion. The babies were born, and kissed and hug and not just whipped off to be tested. I decided that I would love to have more children, if I could birth them in this manner.
I would have a home birth after cesarean! (HBAC)… more of her story.
Jami was harassed continually during her labor to consent to a cesarean because her baby was supposedly too big. She bargained for more time and gave birth vaginally to what she calls her “un-huge” baby boy.
I switched to midwives for the birth of my son, confided in them my whole pregnancy about how traumatic my c-section had been, they reassured me I was going to have a wonderful VBAC. Not even an hour after getting to the hospital, the midwife said the C word. Started saying that the baby was going to be “too big” and I needed to prepare myself for another c-section. Every time she checked me she said more about a c-section (no wonder my body was stalling!!) and how he was too big and my pelvis too small. After about 19 hours of unmedicated labor, I was forced to have an epidural and they gathered drs and nurses and the midwife around my bed and everyone told me that I had done my best but that he was too big and was not going to fit and I needed to agree to a c-section. My husband was the only one who still had faith in me. After a while longer, I bargained with them and they agreed that if I got the epi and pitocin they’d give me 2 more hours to finish dilating and if I wasn’t fully dilated by then, they were going to do a c-section. After 23 hours of hard, agonizing, unsupported labor, I gave birth VAGINALLY to my un-huge 7lb.11oz. baby boy. I developed PTSD from his birth. His birth that was supposed to be different, gentle, supported, intervention-free. It has left me just as scarred and traumatized and betrayed as my forced c-section with my first child. :(
Allison consented to a repeat cesarean with her second child, then reluctantly agreed to a third repeat cesarean. She learned from her experience with her third birth that maternity care often favors doctors’ interests over those of their patients.
There are so many problems with the “best standard of care” according to obstetricians. My experience is so typical. I assumed that my medical care was evidence-based, and that the advice given to me by my OB was based on what was best for ME & MY BABY, not what was best for HER. I was dangerously uninformed, assuming that my doctor had my best interests at heart…I WAS WRONG. And it happens every day to so many women. It doesn’t matter what level of education or socioeconomic status a woman holds—the minute she entrusts her care to an OB following the “best practice” model, she signs away her right to her intelligence, her possession of her own body, her health, and the best interests of her family. Read the rest of her story.