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To VBAC or not to VBAC? My thoughts & experience.

March 18, 2019

So, a question I get asked a LOT is “VBAC, do I or don’t I?” – there really is no right answer as its so personal to each and every person so I can only discuss this from my own experience.


For me, the idea of having a vaginal birth was a big deal. It really meant something to me to be able to have that experience and whether that is right or wrong. It was my driving force. So if you’re not bothered about having a vaginal birth experience then I would say that it may be worth considering an elective cesarian, especially if the idea of birth is triggering you or causing you anxiety. I have weighed up all the reasons people usually sway towards VBACs and my thoughts.

If you’re new here, for reference my son Rory was born via Emergency Ceasarian. My daughter Elin was my VBAC birth.

No Two Births are the same:

A lot of the time I hear people are nervous about history repeating themselves. No two births are the same and your birth is unique to your baby and your circumstances.

Take this one from me. My birth stories are Ying and Yang. Rory was early. Elin was overdue. With Rory my waters broke at 7am and then labour started. With Elin I woke up at 3am to contractions. With Rory the pain was intense and my contractions were close together so I went to the hospital to be told I was 1cm dilated 12 hours after my waters had broke!! With Elin the pain was always manageable and labour progressed fast. I went to hospital 12 hours after contractions started thinking I was about 4cm and I was 10cm and told to push! Rory I had an epidural. Elin was hypnobirthing and gas and air.

The only similarities with my labours are that I needed assistance with both of them to get my babies out. Rory was in a malposition and belived to be back to back (hence the slower and more painful labour) which resulted in a ceasarian as I couldn’t get him low enough into the birth canal myself for the doctor to winch him out.

Elin also got stuck but because the umbilical cord was around her neck which was essentially acting like a bungee cord and pulling her back every time I pushed her down. I did, however, manage to get her down far enough that they got her out with a forceps delivery and allowing me to achieve my VBAC.

I cannot stress enough how history doesnt always repeat itself. The reasons you ended up having a ceasarian wont necessarily arise again.

For me – my VBAC – although traumatic on paper, was absolutely everything and more. It was all that I wanted from a birth story. Well, a water birth would have been nice but I messed that up myself by being stubborn and not going to the hospital quick enough.

The bond:

A big reason that I resented my ceasarian was because I didn’t get this magical “one born every minute” moment that you always see on TV.

For 9 months I had dreamed of this big howling hairless alien being pulled from me and plonked straight on my chest for some magical skin to skin, where we would all cry and I’d experience this huge rush of love. So you can imagine my dissapointment when Rory was shielded by a big blue screen, whisked away for a check, and was brought to me for my first look at him wrapped in a blanket, with a hat and a nappy on.

After a long labour and a lot of drugs I just felt pretty out of it and didn’t feel a lot about his birth at all. I just remember thinking how exceptionally beautiful he was.

Elins birth I got exactly what I wanted. My big scary alien brought into this world screaming. Skin to skin and she pooped all over me. I found it all really overwhelming. I needed her to not be on me so I could focus on the next part, delivering the placenta and being stitched back up again. Again no rush of love. I felt pretty badass for getting her out. But that was more about me then it was about her.

So in hindsight. “The birth moment” and I just dont gel well. In fact. Rorys birth there probably was more emotion because I got nervous butterflies at the first sound of his cry and the sense of relief that he was finally here after such a long labour and obviously I was in awe of how gorgeous he was.

So if the driver for a VBAC is for those emotions, they may not be guaranteed. I think we put a lot of emotion onto ‘that moment’ anyway and actually a lot of people just feel pretty spaced out after giving birth and need a few moments to collect their thoughts!

The recovery:

The recovery was a real novelty – especially in the first 24 hours! When I was wheeled to the recovery ward I almost went into patient mode and was making sure I had my buzzer close to me as it triggered being unable to move after Rorys birth and then I kept remembering “oh yeah I can just get up!”. I also really enjoyed being able to sit in the back of the car for the drive home and not having to panic for every bump and turn in the road.

However – labour IS labour – there is still a recovery process. I think this shocked me the most. I was expecting to hop, skip and jump out of the hospital but the next day I felt like I’d done a few rounds with Mike Tyson. All of my muscles ached so badly, especially my abdoment (from pushing), my arms (from gripping anything I could as tightly as I could) and my jaw (from biting down when pushing).

I had an episiotomy and stitches which was still a painful recovery but not as painful as a cesarian recovery. I felt more able and mobile and obviously being able to walk about and lift your toddler up is amazing. I don’t know how we would have managed if I couldn’t lift Rory actually. But you still don’t get off scot-free which I have no idea why just really shocked me!

Was it worth it?

For me personally – 100% yes. If I were to have another baby I would opt for a vaginal birth again. I really struggle to word this due to the fear of upsetting or triggering someone, but it just meant a huge amount to be to have the experience of a vaginal birth and it truly is like nothing I have experienced before. However, that is completely unique to me. If you feel the same way then yes, I would really recommend you try for a VBAC. If the birthing method isnt something you’re bothered about and you wanted a VBAC for a quicker recovery or you felt it would enhance your bond with your baby then I would maybe discuss further with your midwife as the ceasarian/vbac experiences were pretty similar in this department for me.

If you have a fear of birth/gore etc or your found labour/pains stressful then again, I would possibly consider an elective ceasarian. My birth with Elin was amazing in my opinion, but on paper it was kind of traumatic. It was incredibly high stress (not so much for me as I was in the zone, but for Rich) and it was gorey. He has 4 kids and Elins birth was one of his most stressful but for me it was perfect – I hope this makes sense?

Click here to read Elins full labour story.

Click here to read some other VBAC birth stories.

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