In support of VBAC
April 12, 2002
I am disturbed by the latest controversy at your hospital surrounding the decision not to continue offering vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) as an option for pregnant women.
I, myself, am a strong candidate for a VBAC, being eight months pregnant with my second child. My first birth was a C-section, the result of complications, most of which fall under the term “failure to progress.”
My issue is not with the surgery itself; in fact, when medically-necessary, it can save lives. My problem is with the proposed mandate that no woman, even one in a low-risk pregnancy, be allowed to attempt a VBAC at your hospital.
From what I gather, what triggered this debate was the recent recommendation by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) that a pediatrician be present during the “active labor” portion of labor if a woman is attempting a VBAC, and that the staff at Aspen Valley Pediatrics has refused to cooperate. If this is correct, then I wish they would reconsider.
I know many women who have had VBACs who’ve said it was the greatest experience of their lives. Unfortunately, if VBACs were discontinued at AVH, women who have had a successful vaginal birth after a C-section would be required to have a repeat C-section.
However, I’m not going to discuss the emotional benefits of a VBAC, because the basis of my letter is not emotional. I understand that, in the medical community, what someone feels they’re entitled to (such as a vaginal birth) is of secondary concern. The primary concern is that of the health of the mother and child.
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Unless the numerous books on my nightstand are all incorrect, this is the information that I have gathered: The risks of a C-section far outweigh the risks of a VBAC. With major abdominal surgery comes the risk of infection, blood loss, injury to adjacent organs, blood clots and even death, especially from complications of anesthesia. To perform this surgery when not deemed medically necessary would be barbaric.
Contrary to what many believe, women who opt for a VBAC are not putting their baby in jeopardy, but are doing what they feel is best for their baby – attempting a vaginal birth.
Although the pediatricians may claim that they have the best interest of the baby at heart, I would beg to differ. A C-section robs a baby of the many benefits of the purposeful labor and birth process, and makes post-partum recovery much more difficult.
From personal experience, complications include difficulty breast feeding (due to limited intake of fluids and abdominal incision) and a greater rate of post-partum depression, not to mention the challenge of caretaking a newborn and other siblings while recovering from major surgery.
The bottom line is that the hospital would be risking far more lives by making this surgery standard protocol than by assessing each pregnancy on a case-by-case basis.