Three out of four mothers with one prior cesarean and one out of 2 mothers with two or more prior cesareans who labor after a prior cesarean are likely to have a VBAC. With midwifery care the odds are higher.
Planning ahead, having a supportive caregiver, and patient and encouraging nursing care can make all the difference.
Before Labor Begins
- Think about your VBAC as any other normal labor and remember that the majority of women who plan a VBAC give birth naturally.
- If you have never labored before or labored and had your cesarean before active labor, the pattern of your labor will most likely be like laboring for the first time. So you will need more time to complete labor.
- Make sure that you have discussed all of your concerns with your partner, caregiver, and your doula.
- Find out if your hospital has an “early labor” lounge where you can be observed but not formally admitted to the labor and delivery unit. This will avoid your chances of having routine procedures and limiting your ability to walk and move around in the early part of labor.
- Avoid an induction of labor unless it’s medically necessary.
- Keep yourself as relaxed as possible, particularly during contractions.
- Drink clear liquids and easy-to-digest carbohydrates in the early part of labor.
- Move about (walk, sit, kneel forward and rest your arms on a birth ball or the back of your bed, lay on your side) according to your level of comfort and using gravity to help your labor progress.
- Try using non-drug options for pain relief such as massage, visualization, deep breathing, prayer, hypnotherapy, sitting in warm water, using the shower, hot socks, or a birth ball before taking drugs.
- Try to delay an epidural until your cervix has dilated to 5 or 6 cm and change positions every half hour while in labor. This will facilitate the baby’s rotation to the anterior position, the safest position for birth.
- Remind yourself to handle contractions one-at-a-time and rest in between rather than worrying about how long it will take for your baby to be born.
- Try to think of pain as a normal sign that your labor is progressing.
- Ask your caregivers to avoid interventions (such as breaking your bag of waters or a routine I.V.) unless it’s medically necessary.
- Remember to move and change positions even if you have continuous fetal monitoring.
During the Pushing Stage
- Many women do not feel the urge to push immediately after complete dilation. Sometimes there is a resting phase before feeling the urge to push. Delay pushing until you feel ready.
- If you have an epidural you may want to let the epidural wear off so you can feel the urge to push. You will need additional time for pushing until your baby is born.
- Use positions that make use of gravity to help your baby move down.
- It is usually safe to continue your pushing efforts as long as you and the baby are stable.
If You Feel Overwhelmed
- Remind yourself that the process of birth is ancient and that millions of women before you have made this journey safely
To find out more about increasing your odds for a VBAC, download Module 4 of Deciding If VBAC Is Right For You: A Parent’s Guide and the accompanying Parent’s Handouts from the VBAC Education Project.
This page was previously published as a post.
October 19, 2016.