As you read last week, Chelse is a key leader in a group petitioning the Wyoming Medical Center (WMC) to allow VBACs (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean). I have personally witnessed parts of her journey; her strength, dedication, and persistence continue to amaze me each day. So, I wanted to chime in and offer my perspective on this issue as a normal vaginal delivery (NVD) mom.
Currently, my understanding is if you choose to deliver by VBAC at WMC, you must sign away your right to: hold the hospital accountable for any errors; a labor and delivery room; and an epidural. Most importantly this means, if the hospital makes an error, regardless of if it is a result of the VBAC or not, you have no recourse. While I am not completely educated on this topic, I know, signing my rights away in order to make a choice, which I feel should be mine anyway, about my physical and emotional well-being, does not appeal to me.
As a mom, the health and safety of my baby and I are, of course, most important. A VBAC is not the right choice in every situation but surprisingly it is in most. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG) updated their VBAC guidelines in 2010 to state the safety and benefits of VBACs. These guidelines state VBACs are actually the safer method and that moms who have c-sections that try a subsequent vaginal birth are likely to have a successful delivery. Working with our medical teams, we can make the right decision for our particular situation. Over the years, we have been educated as a nation that once you have a c-section all subsequent births must also be c-sections for the safety of our babies and ourselves. Newer data shows that VBACs are no more dangerous than additional c-sections and, in some ways, actually are safer.
I was able to have the delivery I imagined. The moment I saw Baby N was literally breathtaking. The joy is raw, unadulterated and undeniable. I wish I could describe it better, but as cliché as it is, it is just indescribable. I am sure every mother has this moment when they first meet the child they have grown inside them over the previous nine months but I am also certain that the moment is affected by the way that child comes into the world. If you are forced into an emergency c-section, there is panic, fear, and disappointment which, would no doubt, affect this moment that is meant to be only joyful and pure.
I was the first to touch and hold my son and marvel at his existence in the outside world. Having a vaginal birth allowed me to remain free from straps which a cesarean at the WMC can require and enabled me to spend his first precious hours with him pressed against my chest and gazing into his beautiful little eyes. I was also allowed to nurse immediately which, over the previous nine months, had become incredibly important to me. I would want nothing less for anyone I love than to experience these first moments in the way that they choose.
I also understand that just because I had one vaginal delivery does not mean I will continue to be as lucky if Seano and I are blessed with more children. If ever put in the situation where I’m having to consider c-section versus VBAC, I should hope that the decision is left to my doctor and I and not a facility with an outdated policy.
In my opinion this is a women’s rights issue at the core. I have heard some women who have had a cesarean talk of their appreciation for future planned births. That is okay if that is their choice. The point I want to drive home, is that it is a choice. We are talking about our bodies and emotions, the two most personal things we possess. Yet, Wyoming Medical Center is trying to dictate and make requirements about how we as a group of women, not on an individual basis, should handle our bodies. Letting someone else make the choice for us, strips the little control we do have over this process and strangulates our emotional needs and desires.
I have seen how this can affect us. It makes us doubt who we are as women and mothers. It goes so much deeper than the physical exercise (and man, let’s not joke, it is exercise!) of giving birth. As my dear friend continues to lead this movement, I have more and more conversations with women on this topic. The many I have visited with are serious about this issue. They are not willing to let a facility dictate their next birth story and they are educating themselves and seeking alternative options.
I had a truly wonderful experience giving birth at the WMC. However, I’m disappointed in the lack of vision and progress from a facility that I was, personally, so satisfied with and is considered a medical leader in our state. I hope the VBAC movement in our community leads to honest conversations and progress for Wyoming’s birthing moms. Please visit www.vbaccasper.org to learn more about this movement and how you can get involved.