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. Thousands 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 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:
- Deciding if A VBAC Is Right for You: A Parent’s Guide (slides)
- VBAC for Educators: A Teaching Guide
- Resources for VBAC and Physiologic Birth
- Educational Handouts for Parents
If you are a parent whose baby was born by cesarean section, this 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.
For 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. For 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
If 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.
For Physicians and Midwives
If 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. 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 www.vbac.com 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.