Getting pregnant after a prior delivery by C-section can create a host of complicated feelings and memories for women. You may feel thankful for your new pregnancy but feel nervous about labor and delivery. The option to have a C-section if it is necessary for your health or the health of your baby may be a relief—or you may feel frightened at the prospect of going through another surgical birth. It is important to understand both of these feelings are normal and to be expected.
Here are some important ways to work through the waterfall of feelings and figure out if a vaginal birth after Cesarean—also known as a VBAC—is a good choice for you both emotionally and physically.
Be Emotionally Ready
If you're considering a VBAC, some resolution of negative feelings about your previous C-section may be in order. For many women, an unexpected or emergency C-section is felt as a trauma and must be understood as such. Many women experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder such as flashbacks and nightmares, and they may even require professional treatment. For others, the C-section represents the loss of a dream or a vision of an expected childbirth experience. The grieving process is an important part of acceptance of the unexpected C-section in such cases.
Addressing unresolved emotions and unfulfilled expectations will clear the way for you to make the best possible decision about whether or not to attempt a VBAC. Such resolution may also help you have a better outcome should you undergo another unexpected C-section.
Come to Terms with Your Prior C-Section
How can you come to terms with your prior C-section? Here are some tips to help you heal and prepare for a possible VBAC:
- Recover: Journal or speak with a therapist about your previous birth experience. Try to understand and come to terms with your feelings.
- Research: Read all that you can about VBAC. Understanding the various points of view being presented will help you to decide if VBAC is right for you and will help you make an informed decision.
- Get Support: Find a support group of women who have had similar experiences. Try contacting the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) group in your area.
- Find Peace: Begin a regular program of meditation, self-hypnosis, or prayer to prepare for your next labor and delivery by practicing a calm, confident state of mind for the event.