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A VBAC scare tactic interlude

August 6, 2009

I have now written five posts on “VBAC scare tactics,” or “the (outrageous) statements [that] are often misleading, exaggerated efforts by OBs (and yes, even midwives) to discourage women from VBAC and to encourage them to “choose” a repeat cesarean.”  I plan to write more–many more, in fact, because there are loads of unfounded “reasons” that OBs (and some midwives) give to women each day in order to deter these women from choosing a vaginal birth after cesarean rather than a repeat cesarean.

In each of my posts on VBAC scare tactics, I identify one particular scare tactic, supply a list of questions that a mother can ask her care provider in response to this scare tactic, and then provide an analysis and/or summary of the research that either challenges or even debunks the scare tactic and its insinuations.

Yet nowhere do tell a mother that she should leave her scare-tactic wielding care provider.

Nowhere do I tell her that should wait for labor to begin spontaneously.

And nowhere do tell a mother that she should attempt an intervention and drug-free childbirth.

And this is despite the fact that I think that these are wise and excellent choices for the vast majority of all births, and despite the fact that I think these choices give a woman the best chance of having a successful VBAC.  (And, let’s be honest, it’s also because I’m under no impression that someone is going to come across my blog and say, “Hey, that gal at Birthing Beautiful Ideas told me to do it, so by God, I’m gonna!”)

Nonetheless, despite what I think is wise and excellent and VBAC-success-producing, I also think that women should feel empowered to make their own decisions about the births of their babies.  They should be able to make their decisions autonomously, and from evidence and research that they have read and/or discovered.  And when a VBAC-supporter or natural-childbirth-supporter or anyone is too heavy-handed in his or her advice, then this heavy-handedness can diminish a woman’s sense of empowerment and autonomy.  It can even influence a woman to refrain from looking more closely at whatever it is that the advice is pertinent to.

(For what it’s worth, I think that my birth experience with A was so spectacular because I owned every decision I made about the birth, and I made those decisions from a place of empowerment and autonomy, from a place where no one ever told me categorically what I should or should not do.)

Even so, I think that it is reasonable for me to “lay my cards on the table,” so to speak, and elucidate what I think a woman should consider:

  • If one’s care provider is hurling “VBAC scare tactics” left and right, then one should consider finding a new care provider.  I did.  I did it.  At nearly 37 weeks into my pregnancy no less.  And it was terrifying, and I cried for days…and I have never once regretted my decision.  Because A’s birth would have been so, so different–and certainly not so amazing and transformative–if I hadn’t reached inside myself and culled up all of my strength and stood up to an obstetrician who tried to coerce me into an unnecessary repeat cesarean.  (For those of you who do wish to transfer to a new care provider, here is good resource containing questions that you can ask when interviewing your new care provider.)



  • And finally I think that all women should consider attempting an intervention-free and drug-free childbirth.  I’m certainly not saying that all women should attempt a “natural childbirth.”  But I think that all women should at least consider them.  Weigh the pros and cons of pain medications and interventions.  Or at least look at their options.  Or KNOW that there are options!   (They’re not for everyone, of course, and there are definitely, without a doubt, times and places for pain medications and medical interventions during birth–just so long as a mother can, if possible, participate in the decision to use those interventions and can make that decision from a place of empowerment and autonomy.)  But back to why women should at least consider or research a natural childbirth…  My reasons for this stretch beyond the multitude of physical and emotional benefits of a drug-free birth for both mom and baby.  They stretch far beyond the risks that accompany the various medical interventions used during labor and delivery.   For in addition to these reasons, I think that a drug-free and intervention-free birth can be one of the most amazing, inspirational, empowering, and transformative events in a mother’s life.  Especially when it is borne from a place of education and empowerment and autonomy and preparation.  And it’s not just for granola-crunchy and/or birth junkie types either–just check out Heather B. Armstrong’s most recent post about the natural birth of her second daughter over at  (I, like many others, have been stalking her blog every day for the past couple of weeks to get this latest installment of her birth story.)  As Ms. Armstrong so wisely says, for those of us who work toward and research about and are lucky enough to have a natural childbirth, these births have the ability to change our perspective on our entire lives.

And that’s something that every woman should know is possible.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 1:40 am

    Look, at the end of the day – it is up to the mother which way she wants to go. She may need to make sure she is getting all true pro’s and con’s of VBAC v’s c-section and as long as she has this information – she can make her own decision

    • BirthingBeautifulIdeas permalink*
      August 10, 2009 7:13 am

      Oh, I entirely agree with you. And I hope that this post in particular did not come off as suggesting anything other than the fact that all mothers should be able to make their own decisions about their births, without facing any sort of coercion.

      That being said, I certainly hope that this post did not come off as an attempt to coerce moms into leaving unsupportive care providers or forgoing inductions or choosing natural childbirths! As I mentioned in the post, inductions are sometimes absolutely necessary, and there are absolutely times and places for other forms of medical intervention and pain medications. And, sadly, sometimes moms are unable to leave their care providers.

      What’s more, I don’t even want to suggest that all moms should choose the options that I have laid forth here. Rather, it is my opinion that they should consider these options. And know that they have options!


  1. Birth with passion and without pontification « Birthing Beautiful Ideas

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