One of the most common myths associated with pregnancy is “Once a caesarean, always a caesarean”. This should not discourage any woman from trying for a successful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean).
Dr Rinku Sengupta, Consultant Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and Abhishek Bhartia, Director, Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research, give some tips to increase chances for VBAC.
The first step towards preparing for a successful VBAC involves staying motivated.
It is important for you to want to have a VBAC and understand why you want it as well. Most women who are very motivated understand that a successful VBAC is associated with minimal complications for them and their baby compared to a planned Caesarean section.
A supportive birthing partner
The partner’s role during this time is crucial as they can encourage and support the to-be mother during periods of doubt and uncertainty. Many women who have had a VBAC at Sitaram Bhartia have claimed that having a birthing partner by their side during labour gave them much-needed strength.
It is a medically evidence-based fact that continuous support during labour from partners with or without prior training reduces the likelihood of caesarean section.
Incorporate exercise into your routine
Keeping yourself physically active and incorporating antenatal exercises into your daily life is very important for building stamina, especially if you haven’t exercised before. You should work towards it every day by including at least 30-40 minutes of light exercise like regular walks or yoga in your daily routine.
The onset of labour brings about huge physiological changes in your body that require immense energy and stamina. You will be able to cope with labour and exercise even during labour if you have a good reserve and stamina.
Regular exercises will also relieve back ache and leg cramps which may also contribute to a smoother labour.
Choose your health-care provider wisely
Choose your health-care provider and institution wisely. Make sure you are surrounded by people who promote VBAC and discuss the possibilities in the same positive light as you.
A successful VBAC requires a team of professionals to work together so that if you come in an emergency any time, one of the doctors and other team members are always there to respond, as VBAC, unlike other labours, requires more intensive monitoring.
The concept of a group practice (through which consultants cover for one another) has shown to improve patient satisfaction and reduced chances of errors that may take place when a consultant is tired or sleep deprived. This can result in at least four out of five women attempting a VBAC having a vaginal delivery without any complications.
Your care providers should also encourage you to join birthing classes so that you are better prepared and know when to reach the hospital and how to cope with labour.
Avoid excessive weight gain
Adopt a healthy and balanced diet of foods rich in fiber, dairy and protein like fruits, vegetables, lentils, whole grain foods, milk, etc.
Try not to binge on processed foods and those with high-fat content, for you and your baby’s well-being. Excessive weight gain can lower your chances of a successful VBAC. It can also predispose you to high blood pressure, high sugars and more interventions.
Avoid inductions if you are trying for VBAC
Induction is avoided in VBAC as chances of rupture of previous scar (rare in spontaneous labour) in labour will increase and failure of VBAC will be higher.
It is better to wait till 41 weeks if your pregnancy is otherwise uncomplicated.
Try to defer the next pregnancy
Once you have had a Caesarean section for a non-recurrent cause, try to keep a gap of at least 2-3 years between your pregnancies.
Your chances of requiring a repeat Caesarean may increase if the duration between deliveries is less than 18 months.
It is important for all mothers and mothers-to-be to realise that the success rates of attempted VBAC are high. Around 3 out of 4 women attempting VBAC are successful, so go ahead with confidence and prepare yourself for it!