I learned a great deal from my first birth experience. Additionally, the VBAC Casper movement I helped co-found in 2013 continues to keep me in touch with women who regularly share about their birth experiences. I’ve heard hundreds of birth stories over the past few years. I continue to hear themes of oppression, which has helped motivate me to share the list of questions I’ll be asking my next OB when the time is right. (I must say, I’m extremely proud of the women in my hometown and state! The more they become educated, the more they insist on having access to the labor and delivery options they not only desire but deserve.)
The first thing I asked my original OB at my initial followup delivery appointment was, “What will it take for me to VBAC?” Because I wasn’t agreeable to my primary (and what I believe to be unnecessary) c-section, I was looking for a response like, “Just your willingness to try again, Chelse. Go forth and conceive when you are ready! We will do better next time.” Instead, I was slapped with the following list of inclusive “requirements” that had clearly been memorized and rehearsed:
- I must schedule a c-section for my due date
- My primary OB must to be on call and “available”
- I must go in to labor between 8 AM and 5 PM on a Monday through a Friday
- I must go in to labor “naturally”
- I must go in to labor before my due date (or submit to that previously scheduled surgery)
- I must come into the hospital “pushing” without a birth plan
- I must sign away all my rights and privileges through the hospital VBAC ban waiver
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
I saw the writing on the wall. What woman on this earth has control over most of those things, let alone ALL of them? This doctor was putting on a facade. This OB was pretending to be VBAC friendly while creating the impossible perfect storm of conditions he would require of me in order to “let” me VBAC. Because a “healthy baby isn’t all that matters” to me, I left and never stepped foot in that practice, again.
This is a risky move in a small town where OB care and delivery options are limited. I know, however, that I deserve better care and so do my future babies. This same doctor, who discouraged the use of a doula; told me that a birth plan would lead to certain surgical birth; stripped my membranes at my last appointment without my informed consent (just to ensure labor on his holiday call); hounded me during his holiday shift to receive an epidural; later “disallowed” my “after hours” epidural request; and only “allowed” me 14 hours of labor time before coercing me into a c-section, will not have my repeat business. So, the search is on for a new OB and here at the questions I intend to ask:
- What evidence based birth practices do you regularly engage in?
- What is your stance on VBAC?
- In your opinion, what circumstances are required to VBAC?
- How many VBAC deliveries have you attended?
- What is your vaginal birth to surgical birth ratio?
- Do you require your VBAC patients to schedule c-sections?
- What is your stance on the VBAC ban at the Wyoming Medical Center (Insert your hospital name)?
- What is your stance on due dates?
- Are you willing to engage in shared care if I decide to deliver at an out of town hospital?
- Are you willing to work with a birth assistant or doula?
- Do you trust me to make the right decisions for my body and baby?
What else does a VBAC hopeful need to know about her healthcare provider? Please leave additional questions in the comment section. Once I have a comprehensive list, I will update and share out. Thanks so much!
*All photos from Free Stock Photos.
For more about VBAC, check out these other Jelly Bean Journals posts: