When facing the decision of whether to plan a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or a repeat cesarean, many women find that the support of their partner (or lack of it) has a decisive influence on their ability to both think and feel clearly about the issues involved. Women with supportive partners can discuss research, share feelings openly and rest secure in the knowledge that someone they care deeply about is in their corner as they make one of the most important decisions a child-bearing woman can make. But what about women who have a partner that isn't quite sold on the whole VBAC idea, or perhaps are openly against it? Here are three tips to consider if you are in this difficult situation.
Acknowledge the fear
Telling someone they "shouldn't" be afraid is not particularly effective, especially since most fears do not come from a rational place. Spending some time really trying to get into their shoes can help you figure out what information might be helpful. Is it the fear of something happening to you? To your baby? Is it fear of what others will say should something go wrong?
Acknowledging the fear will help your partner feel heard and be ready to listen to you. Don't interrupt or argue at this point, just listen and note the issues you will need to address.
Ask them to listen while you tell the story of how your birth affected you
It can be difficult for a person on the outside, even one that loves you and has your best interests at heart, to truly understand how traumatic a cesarean can be. Having some honest conversations about how you really felt about your birth experience, and telling him how committed you are to avoiding the same thing this time is essential if you want him to understand why planning a VBAC is important to you. Derek, whose wife Erica had spent a lot of time connecting with women online about her cesarean, says that he never knew how deeply the cesarean had affected her. "I really had no idea she felt that way until a very teary conversation that went late into the night. "
Approach with the right learning style
Is your partner the type who will read anything as long as it's the only thing within reach in the bathroom? Or do they swear off research studies, but are willing to listen as you tell them what you are learning on your own? You know your partner best, and considering their learning style is vital when getting to the heart of the issues that might be in the way of their support of VBAC. Sometimes offering little tidbits of information as a teaser to more conversation is the right way to go. Elizabeth P. says that what helped her husband to understand why she didn't want to have another cesarean was watching "The Business of Being Born" together. Attending a local VBAC support group meeting could also be helpful.
Getting your partner to understand or at least be supportive of your birthing plans, whatever they are, can reduce a great deal of prenatal stress. Trying these tips can help open the door to better communication as well as a better birth for the entire family.