The decision to have a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) is a personal one. Many women feel like that decision is removed from their hands by the lack of information or local providers willing to discuss VBAC in an open and honest manner. Here is some advice on finding local VBAC support.
- Talk to others.
Try to find women in the area where you live who have had successful VBACs. Ask them about their experiences and searches. Did they have a great practitioner? Maybe they had extra precautions that they may not have had if they had not had a previous cesarean section. Get the names of doctors or midwives who sounded like they may be a good match for you.
- Interview practitioners.
Before signing on the dotted line, do some interviewing. If you can do the interviews prior to pregnancy, it can be a lot less stressful on you and your family. Pregnancy definitely adds a level of stress and time pressure.
Ask what their attempted VBAC rate is and how many women successfully accomplish a vaginal birth after cesarean in their practice. Ask about their policies regarding VBAC birth, do they do anything special? Do they feel you are a good candidate? Why or why not? Are their time limits? Do they believe in induction for VBAC?
You should also try to interview hospitals and other facilities about their VBAC policies. Some hospitals may be better equipped to handle a vaginal birth after a cesarean than others. Some may request or require that you sign a special waiver for VBAC, you should have a copy of this up front.
- Talk to birth professionals in your area.
Call around and talk to the various doulas and childbirth educators in your area. They deal with a large number of physicians and midwives through their many students. They can usually give you a clearer picture of how to narrow your list of practitioners based on the previous experiences they've had with their clients. It's also a great place to start for a list of names.
- Contact the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)
The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) is a great organization for information on cesarean birth as well as vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). They do have local chapters in many locations, so you may be able to find local support as well as many online support groups.
- Your Partner
Your partner can also be a great support for your VBAC efforts. Having someone who knows you intimately and has helped you as you both physically and emotionally healed from your cesarean birth can be a big blessing. While not all partners are supportive of VBAC, having one who is can be a big boon to your self confidence. It's also important to note that partners may need support as well during the process, so this is a two way street.
- Look for a local Birth Network
Birth networks are local organizations that are designed to help you explore birth options in your part of the world. Lamaze International has a website dedicated to helping you find these local groups.