Making the decision between C-Section or VBAC

Making the decision between C-Section or VBAC

Ever since becoming pregnant again I’ve been thinking how on earth is this baby going to get out of me? It’s been a question that’s been weighing on my mind pretty much since the birth of my daughter 2 and half years ago. How would the next baby be born, and what would my choices be. I knew that at some point I would have to make a decision between VBAC or C-Section, and right now I am making that decision.

It’s a really tough one. They both have their pros and they both have their cons. For any parent-to-be expecting their second baby I’m sure that this is also a question and decision that you have to make, if you had a c-section with your first born. Whether that was elective or emergency, we still have choices for our second birth.

In recent weeks I’ve had meetings with my midwife, consultant and birth clinic midwife to discuss my options, and what I could and could not do. I was really surprised during these meetings as I had expected to be pressured down one route. That route being VBAC, purely because it’s cheaper for the hospital. But, no I wasn’t. Instead I was first asked “What do you want to do?”. I liked this approach as it put me in control, plus it meant that they were actually willing to my needs, and they did listen.

Newborn baby

For those of you who don’t know I had a failed induction with my daughter that resulted in a semi-emergency c-section. She was born 17 days post dates weighing 9lbs 4oz. So she was pretty big, and they say second babies are bigger. The induction process lasted 60 hours! 60 hours of pain, no sleep and exhaustion for me to only reach 4 centimetres. I’m not traumatised by this experience but it’s something that I do not want to do again.

I’ve explained this to all the various staff at the hospital and they agree with me. They agree with me because the chances of another induction working without ending in an emergency c-section are pretty much zero. Plus the chances of a uterine rupture carry a higher risk with an induction. So it’s good news that I won’t be having another induction.

This leaves me with two options:

  1. Try for VBAC and allow my body to go into spontaneous labour. If this does happen there is a 75% chance I’ll be able to give birth normally.
  2. Book in for an elective c-section. I have been told that I could request this to be booked at anytime between 39 and 41 weeks.

So my current thinking is a combination of the two, and my midwife was happy and felt that I was making the right decision. Our plan is to book in an elective c-section between 40 and 41 weeks, and if my body decides to go into spontaneous labour before that then we will try for VBAC. There will be no induction, however I can have sweeps.

I feel happy with this decision, and I feel happy that my midwife and consultant agree with this. I still have so much time to think about it as the final decision does not have to be made until 34 weeks. But right now I think that this is the best approach to take, and we will just have to see what happens at the time.

Newborn baby feet being held in Mother's hands

I’m not overly precious about this birth just as long as both the baby and I are safe, and I definitely won’t be writing a birth plan this time round. What’s important is that we are given choices and understand the risks, and that both Mother and Baby are safe.

This topic is really high on the agenda for women who have had a previous c-section, and I wanted to find out how they came to decision between c-section or VBAC. Here’s what they had to say:

Pondering Parenthood says I’m 29 weeks pregnant with my second child having had a planned caesarean with my first after her being breech and measuring small. At the moment I am hoping for a VBAC provided that this baby is healthy and in the correct position. I had issues with breastfeeding my daughter and I partly put this down to being in recovery for too long after her birth and not being given immediate skin to skin. Having said that, if this baby were to be in the same situation as my first, I would definitely opt for a c-section as I know it was the safest way for her to be delivered. 

Emma Reed says I had an emergency c-section the first time around which took a long time to recover from. It was very clear in my mind that a natural birth was the way I wanted to go with my second. When the consultant agreed I could go ahead and have a vbac. The main reason I wanted it was because I already had a four year old and I didn’t want to have to worry about not being able to drive, to lift things, to change his routine etc. My recovery this time around has been amazing.

Something About Baby says This is honestly the hardest decision I’ve had to make about my entire pregnancy this time round. After being adamant I was going to have a vbac, I have just booked an elective caeserean with 3 weeks till my due date! I’m still not sure if I’m making the right decision but all that matters is my baby getting here safely.

Maidenhead Mum says I felt the doctors were keen to push a VBAC second time around, it’s definitely cheaper for the NHS. But I couldn’t face the thought of a long drawn out complicated VBAC and then having to have a c-section anyway. I preferred knowing what I was dealing with, especially with a 3 year old at home too. In the end baby made the decision and due to placenta praevia we had to have an emergency c-section 4 weeks early! 

Mum, That’s Me says I had an emergency first time round and had originally planned to try vbac. A week before due date they wanted to get the baby out due to low platelets so I ended up with another c-section.

Sinead Latham says After having my first with a terrible labour resulting in an emergency c section. I always said number 2 will be a planned c section. I know I cannot go through the same physical and mental experience again. My well-being is just as important as the safe arrival of a baby. 

Family Travel With Ellie says I had an elective c-section with my second child. I had an emergency c-section with my first after a long and difficult labour and I was so sure we were going to lose him at the end. I then suffered two ectopic pregnancies before falling pregnant by some miracle with my daughter. Due to the scar tissue that I now have and the terrible fear of a repeat nightmare of my first birth I opted for what I, and the doctors perceived to be the safest way to bring my daughter into the world. I’m so happy I did. I was able to enjoy her entrance to the world without the fear and anxiety of something going wrong.

Motherhood Diaries says I had a traumatic emergency caesarean with my first and went 2 weeks overdue with my second, so had to have a planned section. But, I tried from 37 weeks to give birth naturally. However, I was told that baby was too big and I couldn’t push back anymore, even though, it was a much calmer experience. A friend of mine, who was lucky enough to have her VBAC for her second (I think it was down to the experienced consultant), healed within a week, while I was trying to heal 6 weeks later, with a 15 month old running around me! I know what I’d pick next time! VBAC all the way!

Little Pickle’s Mom says I had an emergency c-section first time round, and have been told that I’ll never be able to birth vaginally, and that a VBAC isn’t an option for me unless the baby is known to be small or is delivered early. I’d relish the chance to give it another go, and part of me thinks that may still be possible… but the realist in me says that the more sensible option is to go for the section.

Popitha says When my twins were born, twin 1 was born naturally, and twin 2 by c-section. It took me a week to start to feel more normal after my section, but over 4 weeks to recover from the natural birth having lost 3 litres of blood and an episiotomy. I got 3 infections and was in constant pain with this. I wanted a section with twins but the consultant changed my mind when I went into labour at 34 weeks saying it would be safer for the babies. Having spoken to a few midwives since, they told me twin 2 would never have come come out naturally. I should have followed my gut and stuck with a planned section. I am now expecting my 3rd (just 1 this time!) and I have opted for a c-section. I feel this is the safest option and I found the recovery quicker and safer.

Beauty and the Bibs says I opted for Vbac as a part of me longed to go through a ‘normal’ delivery . Although things happened and I had to have an emergency c section again . I still have that longing for a ‘normal’ delivery but I don’t hate the fact I had to have a c section again. 

Twinderelmo says I had an emergency section with my first as he was back to back and basically got stuck! I wanted a VBAC with baby two however we found out at my 12 wk scan baby 2 was baby 2 and 3! I instantly opted for an elective section. I have to say both experiences were incredibly positive and never once regret not experiencing a vaginal birth. I feel so sad reading such negativity toward sections as both mine were both lovely experiences that resulted in three healthy babies and that to me means more than anything. 

Mumma Scribbles says I had a planned c-section with my first as he was breech. With my second, my hospital was very pro vbac which really helped me because initially I was thinking of having another elective. A massive part of me was terrified of a natural labour and despite it being absolutely horrendous at the time (sorry!), I managed to have a successful vbac on just a bit of gas and air, and am so glad that I got to experience natural labour – I just wish it hadn’t have been so quick, that he hadn’t been back to back, and that I hadn’t needed an episiotomy that made my recovery far far worse than my previous c-section! 

Nomipalony says I had a VBAC with my second, a HBAC in fact and I’m so incredibly pleased that I did. It was such a healing experience for me. My first was a typical failed induction with cascade of interventions that led to category 1 emergency section and a fair dose of birth trauma. With my second I did a tonne of research and my gut instinct was I wanted a vaginal birth and a home birth was the way I would be most likely to achieve it. I worked my arse off preparing for it that pregnancy (chiropractor care, hypnobirthing, research, diet, hired a doula, 3 birth plans etc) and the birth was everything I could have hoped for. I’d always try for a VBAC if I was to ever get pregnant again.

Emmy’s Mummy says My first was an emergency section as she was in distress so i didnt have much choice. My 2nd was a planned section because after all the struggles I had with Emily’s delivery I couldn’t bear to think of going through another 36 hours and then being rushed to theatre once again. The emergency one was so traumatic and I had to have a blood transfusion after it as I lost so much blood that in my head I need to olan and prepare. Turns out my 2nd turned and was breech 2 days before the section anyway so I would have needed that birthing choice after all and then at least I was already booked in.

The Mummy Toolbox says I had an emergency C-section with my first and a planned VBAC for second which turned into a failed induction and C-section anyway. Although I’ve not experienced natural birth, my second C-section was amazing and recovery much shorter (we went on holiday 4 days later) having been more relaxed all round! So regardless of what happens don’t rule out a planned C-section! 

Arepops says I had a c section under general anaesthetic with my first and my aim this time is to have a vbac. I struggled a lot after the birth of my daughter with what happened and still do now, I would regret it if I didn’t at least try this time round.

Have you had to make the decision between c-section or VBAC? And how did you come to reach that decision?

Claire x

C-Section or VBAC? How to decide between the two

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36 Comments

  1. Harry's Honest Mummy January 22, 2018 / 4:16 pm

    I consider myself lucky that I had no choice. I’m epileptic so I was always booked in for a C section. However baby H hadn’t read the same script and we ended up as a emergency C section 10 days earlier than planned! #bigpinklink

  2. Noleen Miller January 24, 2018 / 8:12 am

    It’s not an easy decision. With my first daughter, I opted for normal birth – was dead set on it until I had to have an emergency c-section and my daughter was born prematurely. It really didn’t work out as I’ve planned. Second time around, I personally opted for a c-section. I knew what to expect as I’ve gone through it and the healing process was better. #fortheloveofBLOG

  3. Nicola | Mummy to Dex January 24, 2018 / 10:32 am

    I am so pleased that the consultant and midwife have let you make this really important decision. With pregnancy and labour come so many variables that are out of our control, i think it’s important that health care professionals empower women by letting them make as many decisions as they can. Wishing you all the best for a trouble free birth!

    #fortheloveofblog

  4. The Rhyming Mum January 24, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I’m glad that you felt listened to and are happy with your choice. Good luck. Wishing you a trouble-free birth and a quick recovery! #fortheloveofblog
    The Rhyming Mum recently posted…Baby brain is realMy Profile

  5. The Squirmy Popple January 24, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    60 hours in labour only to have to have an emergency c-section sounds like a nightmare! It sounds like you’ve made the right decision to see where your body takes you, knowing that you have a planned section if you don’t go into spontaneous labour. #fortheloveofblog
    The Squirmy Popple recently posted…How to use the Curly Girl Method to transform your curlsMy Profile

  6. ruth cartwright January 24, 2018 / 1:07 pm

    I was hoping to be a vbac but had a second emergency section #fortheloveofblog

  7. Tracy Albiero January 24, 2018 / 1:17 pm

    I adopted! 🙂
    Course my adoption labor lasted 4 years but it was worth it!!

  8. Mrs Mummy Harris January 24, 2018 / 1:19 pm

    It must be such a hard choice to make. When we decided to try again, due to my traumatic labour and issues with my back I wanted to get induced but knew it wasnt an option, but the twins have made it possible so I can skip the back pain and try to go to the plain sailing. But i’ve been told even if I can do the first twin naturally, twin 2 may need to be delivered via C-Section.
    I think the not knowing is worse than having it planned isnt it? #fortheloveofBLOG
    Mrs Mummy Harris recently posted…Triumphant Tales #45My Profile

  9. Helen aka Welsh Mum Writing January 24, 2018 / 2:48 pm

    I had a section for my son as he was breech and for various other medical reasons a vaginal birth was considered too risky at the end. I doubt we’ll have another, but if we did that’s such a tough choice. #fortheloveofblog

  10. Ali Duke January 24, 2018 / 3:34 pm

    I had a vbac with my first and it was awful, so when my consultant suggested a c-section for my second I didn’t hesitate. The whole experience second time round was so much better. As long as baby and mum are healthy it shouldn’t matter how it’s done x

  11. Megan - truly madly kids January 24, 2018 / 8:13 pm

    It seems like you’ve weighed this up and thought about it a lot. Ultimately, it will be what it will be, but I hope you get the birth you want. Good luck! #fortheloveofblog

  12. Perdita January 24, 2018 / 8:54 pm

    I’m sure whatever you choose will be for the best. It sounds like you are in safe hands.

    I’ve never had to make that choice, as due to recurrent miscarriage I have been strongly advised that one is enough (and she was an ‘explosive birth’ – one like on the telly where it all happens over minutes! Which has its own challenges).

  13. Cheshire SEN Tutor January 24, 2018 / 8:59 pm

    I’ve had a few friends who’ve had the same decision to make after their first emergency c section. Sounds like you’ve come to a really sensible decision and I hope everything goes smoothly for you. #fortheloveofblog
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  14. Fancy January 24, 2018 / 9:00 pm

    I like that your health system encourage a s choice. I find huge pressure in Ireland for natural borth- you almost have to have special proof to opt for C section! I have had two natural births but had a long recovery from them. Like you say- pros and cons for both. Good luck with your choice and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!
    Fancy recently posted…Kildare Outlet and Killenard EstateMy Profile

  15. Fancy January 24, 2018 / 9:01 pm

    I like that your health system encourage a s choice. I find huge pressure in Ireland for natural borth- you almost have to have special proof to opt for C section! I have had two natural births but had a long recovery from them. Like you say- pros and cons for both. Good luck with your choice and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy! #fortheloveBLOG
    Fancy recently posted…Kildare Outlet and Killenard EstateMy Profile

  16. Ani Kay January 24, 2018 / 11:59 pm

    My first birth was really rough, I tried to do it naturally and not only did I get the drugs, but we ended up having to use forceps after my water was broke and my son refused to emerge. It was a seriously traumatic experience for me and I was completely unsure if I would have another kid after that. My sister in law had a similar experience to you, she was induced on Friday and didn’t give birth until Monday!

    Having a baby is crazy to begin with, without the added pressure of things not going the way you planned. Almost everyone in my family has had sections, and the women who had two children all had second sections. Reading through the comments from the folks in this post it sounds like both options can have their advantages and challenges. It also sounds like you have a great plan! I wish you all the luck, and I’m excited to read more about your journey. #fortheloveofblogs
    Ani Kay recently posted…A Peak Into my January Ipsy Glam Bag and Birchbox!My Profile

  17. Mum OverRun. Sarah Aslett January 25, 2018 / 9:28 am

    Ah! I was going through this exact debate with myself last year! Your story is almost identical to mine and my deciding factor in the end was that I couldn’t bear to go through another lengthy and exhausting fruitless induction process and end up with an emergency C-section anyway. So I had an elective and I’ll tell you it was great – very different to my emergency one, just so calm and casual! Either way don’t let this cloud your pregnancy #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. Mother Almost Never Knows Best January 25, 2018 / 1:58 pm

    I think that sometimes having an option is almost worse as you feel such a weight of responsibility. It sounds like you have opted for the best of both worlds though which must put your mind a bit more at ease. It’s getting exciting though, no?!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. The Smart Mummy January 25, 2018 / 2:22 pm

    It must be such a hard choice to make; but its so good that you’ve been given the choice, rather than being told what you have to do.
    I hope you have an uncomplicated birth and a quick recovery. #fortheloveofBLOG

  20. Briony January 25, 2018 / 3:27 pm

    Oh that sounds like a good plan, best of both worlds really and so long as you are happy that’s all that really counts. #fortheloveofBLOG

  21. Hayley @ Mission: Mindfulness January 25, 2018 / 4:47 pm

    Sounds like you’ve made a choice you are happy with which is the main thing. I was ready to be considering this with our second and then when we found out I was expecting twins then the decision was made for me really! #fortheloveofBLOG
    Hayley @ Mission: Mindfulness recently posted…Words About the Weekend #2My Profile

  22. Sarah Convey January 25, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Excellent the hospital seem to have really listened and considered your needs.
    I went for an elective second time round as the night I had my first the consultant had told me to go that route next time. Her words stuck and a vbac was never even considered. Like you a failed LONG induction was not something I ever want to experience again. #fortheloveofBLOG
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  23. Kate Holmes January 25, 2018 / 6:19 pm

    All the best moving forwards. C-sections are debilitating I found but did not get a choice. You won’t believe this but I had to work out what VBAC stood for. #fortheloveofblog

  24. Heather Keet January 25, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    Parenting decisions start very early! I actually didn’t know you could make the decision on which route to go, I just assumed the doctor chose the best option. #fortheloveofBLOG

  25. Jen January 26, 2018 / 1:09 pm

    Good luck when the time comes. I had a similar approach to you and opted for a VBAC if I spontaneously went into labour, a section if I didn’t. I was thankful to have a successful VBAC #fortheloveofBLOG

  26. Amy - The Rolling Baby January 26, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    Congratulations on your pregnancy. It sounds like you’re being given all the care and advice you need from drs etc. I like the sound of your plans too #FortheloveofBLOG
    Amy – The Rolling Baby recently posted…Benefits of Walking as a New MumMy Profile

  27. Laura Dove January 28, 2018 / 7:33 pm

    Good luck lovely! I’ve never had a c-section so never had to make this decision, Im sure it’s a tough one! Thank you for joining us at #bigpinklink
    Laura Dove recently posted…Dear pregnant strangerMy Profile

  28. Maria January 28, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    I struggled with this decision myself when I had my youngest. I ended up having an emergency c-section first time around and I was pretty traumatised by it. I decided to try for a VBAC and if the worst came I’d have a c-section again. My eldest was 9lb when he was born (2 days late) and I was also terrified that M would be huge. He was 10 days early in the end and 7lb so you never know, your second might not be heavier! #ForTheLoveofBlog
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  29. Ray January 30, 2018 / 12:15 pm

    It sounds like a very difficult decision to make, and so many fellow bloggers seem to have been in the same shoes as you! I was inducted with my first and I’m currently 16 weeks with my second. I’m hoping it runs smoothly! Good luck, it’s so good that you are able to be confident in the choices you’ve made – really takes some stress off your shoulders. #fortheloveofblog
    Ray recently posted…Feeling Confident and Happy With My Pregnant Body // Hunkemoller Sleepwear ReviewMy Profile

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