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The Launch of the VBAC Education Project, A Teaching Tool for Parents & Birth Professionals

10 Aug

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

We are excited to announce that The VBAC Education Project is now available to download online at no cost from

The evidence-based, collaborative, teaching tool endorsed by the International Childbirth Education Association and the International Cesarean Awareness Network, was developed to answer the many questions parents have about VBAC and provide educators and maternity care professionals with the resources they need to support women who want to labor after a prior cesarean.

We hope it will be useful to childbearing families and for birth professionals in their work and support for mothers who want to plan a VBAC. Please, share the VBAC Education Project with your friends, colleagues, and expectant parents.

Join the VBAC Education Project Community on Facebook to share and learn from others how they are using the VBAC Education Project to increase access to VBAC.

The Odds of Breastfeeding Success May Begin Even Before a Baby Is Born

7 Aug

August is the month dedicated to increasing awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and babies. Breastfeeding provides optimal health, nutritional, immunologic and developmental benefits to newborns as well as protection from postpartum complications and future disease for mothers.

The World Health Organization and UNICEF have recognized  that the likelihood of initiating and continuing breastfeeding is determined even before the baby is born. How a woman in labor is cared for (birth practices) can ultimately help or hinder the initiation and success of breastfeeding.



Regardless of her birth setting, the WHO/UNICEF  recommends that women should have access to the following birth care practices:

  • Care by staff trained in non-drug methods of pain relief and who do not promote the use of analgesic or anesthetic drugs unless required by a medical condition;
  • Care that minimizes routine practices and procedures that are not supported by scientific evidence including withholding nourishment, early rupture of membranes, use of IVs, routine electronic fetal monitoring, episiotomy and instrumental delivery;
  • Care that minimizes invasive procedures such as unnecessary augmentation or induction of labor and medically unnecessary cesarean sections.
  • Care should be sensitive and responsive to the specific beliefs, values, and customs of the mother’s culture, ethnicity and religion;
  • Women should have birth companions of their choice who provide emotional and physical supp0rt throughout labor and birth;
  • Women should have the freedom to walk, move about, and assume the positions of their choice during labor.

With the recommended care, women are more likely to avoid complications and have a safe and healthy birth.

Women’s birth experience exerts a unique influence on both breastfeeding initiation and later infant feeding behavior. Although the hospital stay is typically very short, events during this time have a long and lasting impact. Medications and procedures administered to the mother during labor affect her infant’s behavior at the time of birth, which in turn affects her infant’s ability to suckle in an organized and effective manner at the breast.

Maternity care providers have an obligation to care for women and newborns in a way that provides both with the best possible health outcomes. Caring for women in labor according to the WHO/UNICEF recommendations will help more mothers and babies initiate and maintain breastfeeding.


World Breastfeeding Week, 2015

WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding

CDC  The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies

In Celebration of International Doula Month: A Mother’s Letter To Her Doula

13 May

Dear Ellie,

It has been three months since my daughter’s birth. I have been blessed and delighted with motherhood. I enjoy her tremendously and therefore I have neglected the rest of the world. I have been meaning to write and let you know how wonderful it was for my daughter and me that you were our doula. We are so glad we chose you to be with us for such a precious, intimate, soul piercing moment-the birth of my daughter. I wanted to take the time to thank you for your care and concern about my well being during labor. Starting with your massages, they were soothing and invigorating. I loved your rocking me. It produced in me a sense of calmness. You seemed to have known when to talk to me to keep me focused on my daughter’ birth.

Alexandr Vasilyev/Dol

Alexandre Vasilyev/DollarPhotoClub


You facilitated communication between my doctor and my nurses. At times I was out of it emotionally and physically that medical explanations had little meaning to me. You clarified, explained, asked questions and kept my interest at heart. You made a “dysfunctional labor”, as my doctor labeled it, functional. My doctor spoke highly of you and so did my family. My husband was so happy that you were there because it allowed him to relax and enjoy the process. He told me he trusted you implicitly.


In Honor of Cesarean Awareness Month: Introducing The VBAC Education Project

10 Apr

VBAC was deemed a reasonable and safe option to a routine repeat cesarean by the National Institutes of Health decades ago (1981). But, in recent years, misinformation about its safety and lack of clear national practice guidelines have succeeded in virtually eliminating VBACs in many hospitals. Intro.keyThousands of women are being denied medical care for VBAC and given no choice but to “consent” to a repeat operation they do not need or want. Mothers have the legal right to make their own health care decisions, but that right, more often than not, is not upheld. The  upcoming, evidence-based VBAC Education Project, endorsed by the International Childbirth Education Association and the International Cesarean Awareness Network was developed to answer the many questions parents have about VBAC and provide educators and maternity care professionals with the resources they need to support women who want to labor after a prior cesarean. This volunteer collaborative project will be available for download at no cost.

The VBAC Education Project consists of four sections:

  • žDeciding if A VBAC Is Right for You: A Parent’s Guide (slides)
  • žVBAC for Educators: A Teaching Guide
  • ž Resources for VBAC and Physiologic Birth
  • žEducational Handouts for Parents

For Parents

žIf you are a parent whose baby was born by cesarean section, VBAC_HandoutsForParentsthis evidence-based slide presentation (14 modules) provides comprehensive information on vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC), a safe option to a routine repeat cesarean. It will also help you to understand why you may have had a cesarean and how you can do things differently this time. The Resources will help expand your knowledge about VBAC and physiologic (normal) birth. The Educational Handouts for Parents will give you the tools you need to make informed decisions and help you to have a safe and satisfying birth.

žFor Educators and Group Leaders

VBAC For Educators: A Teaching Guide is a companion to Deciding if A VBAC Is Right for You. If you teach childbirth classes or lead a support group for women with a prior cesarean the supporting e-book, VBAC for Educators: A Teaching Guide will help you to present the material to your students. It includes background information for each of the 14 modules, sample class outlines, teaching tips, examples of hospital guidelines and informed consent forms for VBAC you can duplicate for your own educational use. VBAC_ForEducatorsFor mothers considering a birth-center or home VBAC the Teaching Guide also explores the relative safety of VBAC outcomes for low-risk women who begin labor on their own compared to outcomes for planned hospital VBACs.

For Maternity Care Professionals

žIf you are a labor and delivery nurse, office nurse, doula, community-based maternal-child health worker or birth activist, this visual guide provides the medical facts you need to understand the VBAC option, the psychological issues related to laboring for a VBAC after an unexpected prior cesarean, and the many ways you can support and empower mothers to make their own best decisions about how they want to give birth this time. The Resources and Educational Handouts for Parents will be useful for you and the mothers and families you work with.

žFor Physicians and Midwives

žIf you are a physician or a midwife, this visual guide can help provide expectant parents with evidence-based information about vaginal birth after a cesarean. It can also help them to clarify some of the issues they are most concerned about.VBAC_Resources Clinicians rarely have the time to provide parents with all the information they may need to make informed decisions for birth after a cesarean. This guide can help begin the prenatal conversations you will have with mothers to help them make an informed choice about how they want to give birth this time.

The VBAC Education Project will soon be available for free download from and the International Childbirth Education Association. We hope it will help parents to find out more about the VBAC option and encourage maternity care professionals to safely support them.

Updated June 24, 2015.