To VBAC or Not To VBAC…

vbac vs planned section

Oh I’m having a right old quandary at the moment. This VBAC vs Planned C-Section business. It’s getting near to the time when I have to decide how I want to give birth and all of the powers that be (namely whoever I see for my ante-natal appointments) won’t stop banging on about VBAC, or “Vaginal Birth After Caesarean”. Tomorrow I have to go to a special VBAC class, otherwise I can’t even see a consultant to talk about another Caesarean.

Now listen: I did not want a c-section when I gave birth to Angelica. I wanted a water birth and – although I tried to keep an open mind, because I know things don’t always go to plan – I read the natural birthing books, I practised my breathing, I listened to some berk on my iTunes telling me to “breathe baby out through my vulval petals”. I envisaged the birth being very hard work, painful, but joyous and I really really hoped that I would be able to labour, deliver and get the hell out of the hospital within a day. I hate hospitals, I hate machines, I hate needles and I hate hate hate the idea of catching something whilst in a hospital. I’m almost hospital-phobic, but not quite. Borderline.

So that just gives you a bit of background as to the first C-Section I underwent – somewhere, there’s a birth story sort of post, I shall find that and stick a link in HERE should you wish to read it. The C-Section was a last resort – labour had stalled, nobody had spotted that I had a breech baby and the baby was showing signs of distress. So, after waiting a few hours for my digestive tract to clear (I’d eaten some Tracker bars that morning to “keep my labour energy up”!), in I went to have my baby delivered out through a cut in my tummy and I must have been the most panicked, weepy and annoying patient ever in the history of C-Sections. I panicked at every single stage whether they were shaving off the top bit of my pubic hair or messing up the cannula that needed to go into my hand. (Honestly, the cannula was the worst part of the whole thing, I reckon – it really was cocked up quite badly.) Not that I was ungrateful about any of this – I knew it needed to happen (labour had stalled, there was no way I was naturally delivering a breech baby, not on their watch!), it just wasn’t the way I wanted things to happen.

But hey-ho. You just have to get on with those things, don’t you? The question now, is what do I do for this birth? Let me talk you through my crazy mind-ramblings.

On the one hand, I would LOVE to be able to have a natural birth. Not because I’m some natural birth warrior hero who wants to “experience the joys of birth” and definitely not because I feel as though I “missed out”, but because the recovery would be so different to that of a C-Section. (With any luck.) I’d be able to pick up my toddler, I’d be able to drive and – hopefully – I’d be in and out of hospital in a much shorter amount of time. Did I tell you I hate hospitals? The thought of another C-Section terrifies me, because I know what to expect and I’ll ruminate and work myself into a frenzy about the catheter and the cannula and the injection going into my back. (I know to many people all of that’s small-fry, but I’m such a panicker in situations that are out of my control. I also have a morbid over-active imagination. It’s a long-term problem.)

On the other hand – and this is where it gets complicated – the VBAC success rate at my hospital is less than 50%. So, in other words, just under 50% of women do manage to have a vaginal birth when they’ve previously had a C-Section, but just OVER half end up having an emergency C-Section. Now forgive me for being melodramatic, but WHY THE HELL WOULD I RISK THOSE ODDS? So you’re telling me I can go into labour naturally (doubtful, because also this hospital has a 69% induction rate, the national average is 31% – they seem to be quite trigger happy with the old inductions!) but then I only have a fifty percent chance, not even, of seeing it through? That it’s quite likely that I’ll be rushed into theatre, Casualty style, with people shouting about bags of blood and saying “pass the scalpel” and all of that malarkey? Nope. That’s not for me, ta ever so. If there’s a choice between an emergency section and a civilised, at-your-own-pace, do-finish-your-sandwich-and-coffee-Mr-Surgeon sort of section, I’ll take the latter.

Now many might be thinking, at this point, Jesus Christ woman, look on the dark side why don’t you? What’s to say YOU won’t be one of the fifty percent (ish) who have a successful VBAC?

I’ll tell you why. Big baby. Angelica was 9lbs 11oz and – apparently, according to the consultant, who said afterwards “oof, you’d never have got her out the normal way! – you carry just as large or larger with subsequent pregnancies. This one could weigh a whole stone for all I know! And I can’t say that his words filled me with vaginal confidence. He might be totally wrong (Midwife the other week: “Oh what nonsense, all women can birth the sized baby they carry, you’re designed to do it!) but then again, I’d hazard a guess that he knows what he’s talking about. He’s delivered a fair few babies.

So you see my dilemma – I hate hospitals, I hate needles, I hate anything interventiony, but I want to have the safest birth possible and I really can’t be doing with labouring naturally only to have a half-half chance of needing an emergency section. I feel as though every time I go to any appointment or read any literature, the VBAC option is being forced upon me and that I’m a wet blanket for wanting a scheduled C-Section, but on the other hand I’d love not to have to be hooked up to a bag of my own wee in a hospital ward filled with people crying and discovering they need blood transfusions and then going a bit dotty in the middle of the night. (Don’t ask, it happened. Someone went totally bonkers on me during my second night’s stay on the labour ward. I couldn’t get out fast enough.)

Off I go to my class tomorrow. I’ll go armed with a list of questions and report back. If you have any questions of your own, leave them below and I’ll try and get an answer. One of the things that’s bothering me is that when I did a similar sort of class at the Birthing Centre, where they promoted natural birth and the avoidance of intervention and so on, they said to avoid the Labour Ward like the plague. “Stirrups, Stuck on Your Back, Stalled Labour” they said. But now, the same-ish group of people are trying to tell me that a VBAC is a good idea, but because it’s high risk it’ll take place on the Labour Ward. So, the very thing that I’ve been told to fear! None of it makes any sense!

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  1. Laura
    November 8, 2016 / 9:42 pm

    I too went through all aspects of labour before ending up with an emergency c- section with my first 10lb5oz, overdue and totally stuck baby. I can totally empathise with your dilemma. I think if I were lucky enough to fall pregnant again I would have a planned c-section, just so I wouldn’t be quite so exhausted for those first few days. Recovery could also be planned for a little better (is a private room available at your hospital?). Just my opinion. I hope you have a wonderful experience, whatever you choose xxxx

  2. November 8, 2016 / 9:44 pm

    I also had a emergency c-sec Ruth and possibly next year will try for our second baby so I’ll be in a similar quandary. If I’m honest I think I’ll take the elected route. My friend just had an elected c-sec after a very traumatic 1st baby and she said it was amazing. Strolling down to surgery, chatting to all the team about x-factor and the like. Had the procedure, remembered and enjoyed every second then home the next morning. Sounds bloody amazing if you ask me!!

  3. Lindsay
    November 8, 2016 / 10:04 pm

    So I had a 9lb 14oz (((isnt that 10lbs……who knows) baby the natural way but ended up having an epidural because I’m not superhuman after 50hrs of stop start labour . Sounds to me like if you make a decision to have a csection but to initially try vbac up to an agreed point then you have control. If vbac works…..awesome, if not you’d already decided ((and partially come to terms with) having a c section. Not sure if you’re anything like me but mine is a control issue and so presented with choice which could be taken out of my hands would worry me too. Lots of luck lovely lady. Just remember the end game….. a bundle of gorgeousness.xx

  4. Lindsay
    November 8, 2016 / 10:05 pm

    So I had a 9lb 14oz (((isnt that 10lbs……who knows) baby the natural way but ended up having an epidural because I’m not superhuman after 50hrs of stop start labour . Sounds to me like if you make a decision to have a csection but to initially try vbac up to an agreed point then you have control. If vbac works…..awesome, if not you’d already decided ((and partially come to terms with) having a c section. Not sure if you’re anything like me but mine is a control issue and so presented with choice which could be taken out of my hands would worry me too. Lots of luck lovely lady. Just remember the end game….. a bundle of gorgeousness.xx

  5. Tourmaline
    November 8, 2016 / 10:07 pm

    Hug. Go with what feels right for you (not them). Maybe you could ask which is the safest option (all things considered), then see how that sits with you. Your peace of mind is so important; I think it’s awful that they try to railroad you into making a certain choice, or give wildly conflicting advice ie avoid labour ward, choose labour ward.

  6. Cecilia
    November 8, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Do you read the Pool? There was an article about having an epidural on there recently. The premise of the article is that women are only expected to be natural when it comes to childbirth and motherhood. i was in your position earlier this year (induced, 40 hours of labour, emergency c-section which went a bit wrong). I had my second by planned c-section in March and I’m very happy with my decision. I had said that if I go into labour then I’ll have a go but I had a c-section booked at 41 weeks as a sort of back up plan. In the end it was brought forward due to reduced foetal movements and the fact that my cervix was still high & closed at 39 weeks. My hospital had a fast track where if I met certain criteria (walking within a number of hours, passing urine etc) I could leave after 24 hours which I did. The planned c-section is a very different experience from a planned one & my recovery was so much quicker the second time. First c-section came after being up for 3 days & all the complications meant I was a serious mess mentally and physically for weeks afterwards. This time I was taking my eldest to nursery on the bus after a week. Only you can make the right decision for yourself. I really struggled with it especially as I felt like everyone I spoke to had their own agenda and made me feel bad for how I was feeling. If you want a c-section and the hospital is pushing you towards a VBAC you are within your rights to push them back. I hope you are able to make the decision that you are happy with

    • Vicky
      January 10, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      I feel like yourself. Ds1 was born at 42 weeks emergency c section. Induced and contracted for 36 hours then took me for a section. I was shattered and then couldn’t walk. Ds2 due in 15 weeks doctors want me to have section but I want to try if it starts naturally but have section instead of induction. It’s reassuring to know it was better second time round

  7. Ann
    November 8, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    Well, I live in Poland, a country with totally diffrent medical approach. Yes, they do say we have too many c-sections nowadays and it has to change. But I had 2 miscarriages with abrasion, 1 other uterus procedure, the baby was big and breach and the doctors strongly advised me the c-section. After all it turned out my son had his umbilical cord around his head- thank God for the procedure. I would be too scared to VBAC, so many things can go wrong, I have a strange confidence in medical procedures.

  8. Georgie
    November 8, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    I went for VBAC but ended up having g another section anyway. It was worse (recovery wise). Than I remembered – good luck with you decision xxx

  9. Emma
    November 8, 2016 / 10:36 pm

    Am I the only one who worries about the first c-section scar bursting if I have a VBAC this time?

    • Vicky
      November 12, 2016 / 8:57 am

      No my consultant told me there is a risk of it rupturing if you labour to Long. But if you don’t labour fast they section you anyway – according to my hospital. I’m too worried about that

      • Ali
        November 16, 2016 / 6:28 pm

        This happened to a friend of a friend but she got pregnant after six months rather than waiting a year

        • Simi
          November 17, 2016 / 9:25 am

          I had a uterine router after a Vbac. 5 years after my first c section. Feel free to ask any questions you have… happened only a year ago.

          • Simi
            January 16, 2017 / 12:05 am

            I also had a rupture after 5 years. Happy to share my experience if you would like me to

  10. Michelle
    November 8, 2016 / 10:43 pm

    Hi Ruth
    I’ve only given birth once and that was 11 months ago. I envisioned a lovely natural birth in a water bath, but things didn’t go to plan. I won’t go into the details, but I hate hospitals too. One thing that did help am awful lot and meant that my husband could stay was requesting a private room. We paid a lot more in central London, but I think elsewhere it is less than £100 a night.

  11. Maja
    November 8, 2016 / 10:53 pm

    I also had a c-section because the baby would not turn and my pelvis was a bit to narrow to risk a breech birth. I hate hospitals as well. I ckecked out of the hospital on day three after my c-section and recovered perfectly well at home. I just don’t understand why the rate for an emergency c-section is so high at your hospital?! I’m 32+ weeks pregnant with my second child right now. Baby is in the right position, there is no placenta in the way, scar tissue looks fine, so there is nothing standing in my way to have a natural birth this time. I get your fear, but try to calm yourself an listen to you body. I think you can do it, but if you are not willing to risk anything, don’t. I am determined to have a natural birth this time, because I do think, that I want to have a third baby and that could be risky after two c-sections. But I would not risk my life or the life of the baby in any way. But my hospital and doctors are very encouraging and everything looks good so far. Ask as many questions as you can, talk to your husband about it and just do what feels right for you. If you have to have a c-section, so be it, but at my hospital emergency c-sections are rather rare, especially if the mom got checked out well beforehand.

  12. Sarah
    November 8, 2016 / 10:55 pm

    my first baby (L) was born in December 2013 via emergency c section. I was 13 days overdue, had been in labour for 3 days from an induction but then they realised that L was sticking her chin out and was stuck and probably had been for some time. In retrospect if I had known L was stuck and had a planned section I don’t think I would have been as traumatised as I was.
    I fell pregnant again last October and my baby girl (M) was due in June. I spent the whole pregnancy terrified of needing another c section, – huge factor of this was because I was worried about the impact the recovery time would have on L. The hospital just assumed I was going for a vbac, I think at my hospital they assume you want a vbac unless you request a planned section.
    Anyway at 10 days overdue I went in to be induced (via a balloon!) but they were too busy to put it in. The next morning I went into labour naturally myself!! The contractions built up throughout the day and then at 7pm i was 4cm, at 8pm I was 10cm and at 8:39pm out M shot!! I had to have an episiotomy and still tore so I had to go to surgery to get sewn back together. (The recovery from that was pretty grim)
    (Take the size thing with a pinch of salt – L was 7lb 12oz and M was predicted to be 8lb 8oz at 40 weeks…she was 6lb 13oz at 11 days over!!!!!)
    The next day L came to the hospital to meet M and she ran straight into my arms and I could pick her up for a cuddle. That single moment made my vbac worth it. (The way I have written it here makes the birth sound straight forward but it wasn’t so simple and I still found it quite traumatic)
    Having experienced both births I can honestly say there are pros and cons to both. I would say trust your gut and go with your instinct for what’s right for you xxxx

  13. Hayleigh Bridges
    November 8, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    My mum had me by caesarean (planned) as I wasn’t budging and 18 months later had my brother naturally, 9 days late but very quickly without time for pain relief. I would say ignore all the figures and let nature take its course. The doctors will be there to help if nature can’t finish safely. It needs to be whatever makes you feel comfortable. Happy mum, happy baby.

    Oh and my baby was 8lb3, I delivered naturally. I’m a slim 5ft 5. Your bits and bobs were made to cope xxx

    • Hayleigh Bridges
      November 8, 2016 / 11:00 pm

      I was extended breech**

  14. shin ae
    November 8, 2016 / 11:02 pm

    I think it’s nonsense to say all women can birth the sized baby they carry. Some can and some can’t. Thank God for medical intervention in birth when it’s necessary. I know women who have birthed ridiculously large babies (much larger than Angelica), and others who have needed C-Sections for smaller ones; everyone’s bodies and babies are different.

    Here’s the thing about your tendency to worry: Yes, if you plan the C-Section you’ll worry ahead of time. However, if you do VBAC, you’ll worry about both the labor/delivery AND about the potential emergency C-Section. Simple math says you’ll have less to worry about with the planned C-Section.

    One other thing is that every woman I’ve known who had a planned C-Section has spoken very positively about it. The unplanned ones tend to be traumatic, and I’m sorry you had to experience it.

    Do what’s right for you, and please don’t give a moment’s thought to the naysayers.


  15. Susan
    November 8, 2016 / 11:36 pm

    I had a VB (with added epidural) in May.
    The worst bit was the cannula which sounds ridiculous. I still have the puncture hole scars on hand and wrist.
    If I was in your boat, I would go for EC because it would bring some sense of control.

  16. Jessica
    November 8, 2016 / 11:40 pm

    At the end of the day only you can make the final decision as it is a very personal one. Any decent obstetrician will talk you through the risks/benefits of your *individual* case (can’t stress this enough, everyone is different) and after this ultimately it comes down to what you feel most comfortable with. If you would like to read evidence based guidance I would recommend looking at the RCOG guideline (Google “RCOG GTG 45”) Page 10 table 1 is a summary of the risks/benefits and much more useful than anecdotal evidence from the wider internet. It is what they should discuss with you in clinic so you can have questions prepared for your consultant to make the most of your limited time with them.
    Whatever you decide I wish you all the very best xxx

    • Rachel
      November 10, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      Hear hear.

      Read the evidence and make the decision about what is best for you and your family. I know you asked for opinions but no-one else’s experience or feelings matter, its what is right for you. I know friends who have had home births in the pool after section and another who has had had 3 further elective sections after a very truamatic emergency section – both have been positive, empowering experiences because they were what was right for each of them.

      You /will/ make the right choice, whatever it is x

      • Jmbc
        November 15, 2016 / 5:33 am

        I third (?) this. The American guidelines (I’m an American physician, so biased towards hospital births in general, hospitals to me = clean and safer) can be found if you google ACOG vbac guidelines. You will hear a million different stories both good and bad about either. I hope you’re able to wade through the outside pressures/info and decide what’s best for you and your family soon.

  17. April
    November 9, 2016 / 12:43 am

    No children, so grain of salt, but….

    Hold out for a scheduled c section. Jeepers. It seems like a no brainer, and at some point it’s about your state of mind. It’s not ideal, but your hospital has interesting,,,odds. Also, no, not all women can deliver the babies they are gestating, or there would be no need for C sections. I know of one person who had a successful one, but she had issues afterwards, which I won’t go into. But your uterus has a scar, and it changes things!

    Regardless, I hope you have less stress about whatever happens.

  18. Felicity
    November 9, 2016 / 12:51 am

    Could you try a different hospital? I get a choice between two and they have fairly different statistics despite being maybe ten miles apart. You can see your options on which.

  19. Helen
    November 9, 2016 / 1:31 am

    Would you consider going private? (I don’t mean the Portland, obvs, tis a little pricey, think of all the SHOES you could have instead). I think you get more choice when you are paying for it. I’m a huge advocate of the NHS but if you are overtly anxious then it may help. In general, private hospitals feel less sterile, you will have more attention & a private room. I know its an expense but perhaps a worthy investment; you will only give birth to your child once, if you can make it as easy for yourself as possible and reduce the anxiety then perhaps you will feel more in control and safer, and perhaps it will be less traumatic? I guess I worry that another stressful birth could impact your mental health. I am not a mother so I really have no place to say any of this but if I think that the key is to manage your anxiety which is the bigger problem rather than the actual method of extracting the little thing from your innards. Whatever you decide, you will cope, you will get through it and you will have a beautiful baby at the end XX

  20. Skylar
    November 9, 2016 / 1:39 am

    So I’ve known women who have had vbac with mixed results. One was successful– no big deal. Another ended up needing a c section. The third was able to give birth vaginally…but her baby was big (about Angelica’s size) and had a BIG head. The mom had fourth degree vaginal tearing…and her recovery was pretty bad. BUT I dont know if it was more difficult than a c section recovery. I’ve never known anyone to have a smaller baby the second time around, so I think you’re right to consider that. In addition I would consider Angelica’s head size if you recall that info…Wishig you the BEST with the rest of your pregnancy and your L and D! No matter what, it will all be wonderful in the end!

    • Sarah
      November 9, 2016 / 9:17 pm

      My first was 7lb 12oz (13 days over) and my 2nd was 6lb 13oz (11 days over)!!x

      • Brenda N.
        November 10, 2016 / 6:58 pm

        My first was 7lb 6oz and my second was 6lb 12oz.

  21. Eliza
    November 9, 2016 / 1:42 am

    Hi Ruth,

    I know exactly how you feel, I was in the same situation as you. (Baby girl arrived 16weeks ago)
    Except my first breech baby was known and c section planned. Despite the planning I wasn’t expecting for the experience of c section to be so awful. You described so many of the things I felt in your post, it made me tear up remembering it all.
    Being given the choice of a VBAC is a strange feeling. How the hell do you decide? After all the devil you know and all that.

    I did have a VBAC and can only give you one of my personal experience obviously (and I’m sure that other people will tell you the exact opposite was their experience)
    Labour bloody hurts (far more than I was expecting) and I had an epidural and still managed a VBAC.
    But aftet you have baby and the sutures it’s OVER. the recovery is so so so different.
    I was up and showered and walking around eating a sandwitch 2hrs after she came out. I discharged myself first thing the next morning.
    When I think of the 3 days of hospital misery and pain I had with Baby 1 the two experiences were incomparable.

    I’m in Australia and our public health system is very similar to the NHS. Towards the end of my labour I was “taking too long” and consent forms for csections were produced.
    Luckily I had an older experienced midwife who kept buying me time, one more hour, one more hour, baby is in no distress.
    She reminded me I had the right to say no to any treatment at anytime as long as baby was coping. (They monitor this so we do know)

    Wise women will tell us we have no control over how our babies arrive and it’s very true, they will come when and how they decide. We are lucky for modern medicine that we don’t have to deliver our breech babies and risk our lives in the process.
    For me, I’m so glad I tried a VBAC because it worked. And they are odds I’d take again even at 50/50.

    This is the first time I’ve ever commented on any blog, I’ve watch a model recommends for years and you are my fave imaginary best friend. Your post made me feel so emotional I felt compelled to share a good experience.
    Wishing you all the very best and that you make a decision that is right for you

    Weird one question, is Angelica left handed?
    My Hugh is, as is my breech sister. I wonder if it’s something to do with being upside down in our tummies????

    • Nikky
      May 16, 2018 / 6:42 pm

      What happened with your vbac experience?

    • Nikky
      May 16, 2018 / 6:43 pm

      Where did you have your vbac in Australia

  22. Rebecca
    November 9, 2016 / 3:14 am

    Interesting that you have a choice about this (not that I am against that). Where I live, if your first pregnancy was a C-section, all subsequent births will be sectioned as well.

  23. Freya
    November 9, 2016 / 3:24 am

    I think if I were you I’d go for the planned C-section. I laboured ‘naturally’ (awful way to describe it), everything was going swimmingly then labour stalled and I ended up on the drip having had no pain relief, before being taken to theatre and delivering with forceps. I was grateful I didn’t end up having to have a C-section as they thought I might and recovery was therefore much quicker, but I did end up with a spinal block, canula and catheter anyway which are also some of your concerns. Baby was a relatively small 7lb 7oz and she still got stuck! x

  24. Claire L
    November 9, 2016 / 5:38 am

    Elected c-section will be a lot better than emergency C-section. I had one for medical reasons and it was relaxed, no rush and the staff are happy to be delivering without pressure. You recover better too because the womb lining isn’t thinned out from labour. I’ve had other abdominal operations before and with each operation you recover faster, you know what to expect and do each time.

  25. Libby
    November 9, 2016 / 6:43 am

    Hi Ruth,

    I’m a midwife and I completely sympathise with your dilemma. The VBAC success rates are higher if the previous section was for a breech baby and if you went into labour naturally with your 1st baby, the chances are you will with baby no. 2. Also, I had a 10lb 6oz baby vaginally last year, so sometimes big babies do come out (luckily I was able to move around in labour which must have helped her find her way out).
    If you do decide on another c section your recovery is likely to be more straightforward than last time round, and you won’t be exhausted from hours of labour. Also, you are completely within your rights to request another c section, so of its what you want don’t let anyone persuade you to have a VBAC. If you’re worried about being induced you can speak to your consultant and request that you’re happy for a VBAC if you labour naturally, but you’d rather have a c section if you need to be induced. If they’re worried about the size of the baby, maybe they could arrange a scan to see how big he/she is before you make your final decision.
    I hope I’ve helped a little bit and haven’t made your decision more difficult. You need to do what’s right for you and remember that it’s your right to opt for another c section – but also don’t write off the possibility of a normal delivery as there’s no guarantee this baby will be huge.
    Good luck!

  26. Angela Guest
    November 9, 2016 / 7:00 am

    Ruth my niece ended up having an emergency c section with her first baby after 23 hours in labour and baby getting distressed & not dilating properly, very scarey & frightening for her…she was hoping for a natural birth with her second but the baby was laying breech, so she opted for a planned c section, I was her birthday partner her hubby was working away at the time ( she lost her mum when she was 9 years of age) different again for her this time, more relaxed they talked her through it before going into surgery so a better experience all round…And I was there to witness it all needless to say I was sobbing my heart out lol, the most amazing experience ever…( I don’t have children of my own)..hope you make the right wishes xx

  27. Jo
    November 9, 2016 / 7:09 am

    I had a VBAC, after an emergency C-section. The difference in recovery is outstanding. I was home in 24 hours as opposed to the 6 days after the C-section. I felt brilliant. My hospital came up with a plan that worked for us. I was to go in at the first signs of labour so they could see how it progressed. After labouring for about 6 hours I was taken to a theatre just in case they had to go ahead with the section. They decided to try mid cavity forceps and that’s how my daughter was born. Every step was discussed and the section was seen as last resort. My second child was smaller though, which helped.

  28. Sarah
    November 9, 2016 / 7:12 am

    I had an emergency c-section with significant haemorrhaging after my son was removed (complications that would not have occurred had the c-section been planned). Go with a planned c-section all the way and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it. Do not put yourself at risk of having an emergency c-section.

  29. Deirdre
    November 9, 2016 / 7:16 am

    Thanks for this post Ruth, hope the class is helpful and you can put a plan in place. I wonder why the VBAC class is mandatory – I’d imagine it’s to do with keeping costs down?

  30. November 9, 2016 / 8:07 am

    Well, I can understand the scary. I delivered naturally, then had to be rushed to emergency surgery afterwards because of post-birth complications. So I’m really no help from the personal experience department, as it was my only birth.

    BUT, my husbands aunt had a baby 3 weeks after me – 10 lbs, 3 oz – all natural. Her first baby was 11 lbs, again all natural. So, while this did happen in America, it is possible. I don’t think your baby is probably all that out of proportion to you (being tall).

    In the end, I say do what makes you most comfortable. If you know you’ll be panicked and worried, maybe taking the less worrisome route would be better as an all around experience. It’s the sort of thing only you and Mr AMR can decide. Good luck as you sort it all out. The only important thing to remember is that a healthy baby is at the end. That’s what really counts!

  31. Sarah
    November 9, 2016 / 8:32 am

    Thank you so much for this, Ruth. I was actually going to comment on your last post to ask about what you were thinking about VBAC as I’m in the same situation. I’m leaning towards VBAC as the recovery is quicker, I was in quite a state after my c-section and I really need to be able to drive – need to pick up my toddler from childcare. Look forward to your feedback from the class. Those stats you quoted re your hospital are shocking x

    • Victoria
      November 9, 2016 / 2:43 pm

      Hi Sarah,
      The recovery is only quicker IF your VBAC goes well. If it doesn’t then you are in for an even worse recovery. And that is the crux – you have absolutely no idea how your VBAC will go and there is no crystal ball that will tell you. You should decide based on the circumstances of your last c-section (ie is it likely to be repeated, are the same conditions still there?) and your age (if you are in your 20s you’re probably as mouldable as a piece of Plasticine, if you’re in your late 30s you can almost guarantee that it will be harder).

      I checked with my insurance people (ESure) re driving and there is no stipulation you can’t drive from an insurance perspective. Am due to have a second c-s on 7th December.

      Good luck deciding.

  32. Cathy
    November 9, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Hi Ruth, I have had 4 births, all svd, but if I were having your quandry I think I would go for planned section. Vaginal births can be just as traumatic, and given your high chance of a big baby, then there could be other issues too. Then add on the section v vaginal delivery statistics , well that’s quite a high %age isn’t it. So yes I would go planned section.

  33. Delphine
    November 9, 2016 / 9:09 am

    Ho how I sympathize with this dilemma! not pregnant right now, but i have been dreading that issue since about… 2 hours after undergoing a traumatic emergency c section
    so the options are: mental comfort / assured physical discomfort or mental uncertainty / physical uncertainty. If you are like me a creature that enjoys clarity and certainty, maybe option c section is better. If you’re up for challenges, vbac
    in all cases, medical personnel should be empowering and encouraging you rather that trying to push whatever agenda they have!

  34. November 9, 2016 / 9:17 am

    Both of my kids were natu al births, but being an anaesthesist myself I have seen quite a few women undergoing plannend and emergency c-section. And as much as a “natural” birth is a lOvely option, there were a few things that would have made me go for elective c-section: breech baby or huge baby. My son didnt turn until two weeks before he was due, and I was prepsred for a c-section even though my first birthing experience was amazing. I did not want to risk emergency c-section. My kids were 3.5 kg each, and I am tall and blessed (?) with wide hips, but I would not have wanted them to be much larger. I had tearing and cutting in my “rose petals” and couldnt sit for one week straight.
    A ftiend of mine had a planned c-section and was rally happy,but she suffered from maior birthing anxiety beforehand, so it was the obvious choice.

    But my experiences aside: Is there no option for pickinh another hospital? The succes rate and the induction rate are quite high when compared to where I work (Germany).

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  35. Jody
    November 9, 2016 / 10:06 am

    I had a planned c-section last year for a breech baby and am due my 2nd baby in early May. I really, really want a VBAC. Was traumatised by the whole thing the first time (foreign hospital, very old-fashioned) and would do anything to avoid it again. BUT, I had a 6lb3oz baby and until I knew she was breech, had wanted a home birth! If I was likely to have a 10lb-er I think I would be planning a return to the UK and another c-section! You are an intelligent and capable woman. You know your body better than anyone and will make the best decision for you! Best of luck getting the information you need today 🙂

  36. Sarah
    November 9, 2016 / 10:10 am

    It sounds like you know what you would rather do and what is best for you. Go with your gut feel and don’t feel pressured into anything. You’ve coped with c-section recovery before so don’t let that put you off, and actually I had a vaginal birth and had a much harder recovery time than my friend who had a c-section. So nothing is guaranteed. Also, a relaxed mind is key and if you go into labour worried about it all ending in an emergency c-section, it’s going to affect how you labour anyway, making a vaginal birth harder. Good luck with whatever you decide xxx

  37. Tiffany
    November 9, 2016 / 10:17 am

    This is a very tough decision to make, indeed. But keep in mind that all pregnancies and all births are different. The midwife is not completely wrong, since you never know in advance if your baby is too big for a VB and so on. So it is natural to consider initially that everything is going to be fine (even though things never go exactly according to plans). It is weird that you should make this important decision so early. I understand that hospitals are very busy and need to plan far ahead, but how can you possibly know how you will feel (i.e. able to go through VBAC or not) so many weeks in advance?
    You should come and give birth in France, I’m pretty sure you don’t need to give your final decision until the very last weeks.

  38. Rita
    November 9, 2016 / 10:31 am

    Hi Ruth,
    I was given the ‘opportunity’ to go for a caesarian after 20+ hours of labour and baby facing the wrong way (can’t remember the medical term), and I chose to try ventouse as a last ditch effort instead. 4 years later, I now have 2 beautiful boys aged 4 and 2, and a prolapse which is going to be an issue for the rest of my life. I hadn’t realised the risks of having a large baby at age 40, and if I knew what I do now, I would have had the caesar. You are tall but slight, and you seem to make big babes… I’d go the caesar!

  39. November 9, 2016 / 10:34 am

    I’d ask if you can have a “gentle c section” and I’d also ask if you are at more risk of not having a VBAC as it’s quite a short amount of time for you (and me!) between pregnancies.

    I’m currently favouring a c section for my next birth due Feb. With my daughter I had 3 days in labour that didn’t progress and then when it did and I went to the hospital the baby got distressed so I was rushed off for a c section, but I was lucky with recovery, I went home the next day and had no pain. I was uncomfortable for a couple of weeks but I think you are bound to be after any birth! I was very sleep deprived as I haven’t slept at all for 3 nights. I think that was the worse thing for me.

    I’m feeling a bit pressured into a VBAC but I see my consultant next month and I will see what they say too (so far I’ve only seen midwives about it)

    It’s a very tricky and personal decision. I’m so glad you’re sharing your thoughts.

    Samantha x

  40. Ali Harriman
    November 9, 2016 / 10:50 am

    Excuse me, I know I had my two children back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but has obstetrics took a step backwards in this country? Just this week the specialist I work with has had patients who’s deliveries were done with a method I thought was binned years ago. I won’t go into details. I know plenty of women who had perfectly fine vaginal births after a c-section and as for the baby’s size or weight, both mine were over 9 lbs (we grown ’em big in Canada!) and I managed vaginal births for both just fine thanks. I’ve got the feeling your being steered towards what is best for the hospital, rather than what you are happy with. Why do you have to make this decision now? I think you are only just into your third trimester aren’t you?

    It sounds very much like the hospital plans weeks in advance with regards to staffing, theatre needs etc… and you are just one on a list of many. I don’t have a problem with some advance planning, I know there is huge demands on all the hospitals, but I wouldn’t allow anyone to try to steer you in a direction you aren’t comfortable with.

  41. Liz
    November 9, 2016 / 11:00 am

    Hi Ruth… Long comment ahead 🙂 I had an emergency c-sec with my first – after 12 hours of labour she just wasn’t coming down and got stuck, started showing signs of distress and so cs it was. The recovery was so much better than expected – took pain meds for a few days but was then fine. Zero complications with breastfeeding despite all the scare stories, and a happy, chilled baby. Then, I gave birth to my son exactly 18 months later via VBAC and it amazed me how different the two births were given that they were coming through the same pelvis of the same woman, with no different “prep” the second time around – he was in a terrible position (posterior and OP) but came in under two and a half from first contraction to delivery. BUT, aside from the lack of the “drugged” feeling I had straight after the c-Sec epidural and the fact that I could happily pick up my toddler, I was in a lot more pain after the VBAC then after the ceaser and I would say my recovery was trickier (him being posterior didn’t help, more did the stitches from the episiotomy.) I was on pain meds for weeks. So both recoveries had their ups and downs. That said, I’m hoping to have my second VBAC any day now (20 months after my first VBAC) because i really don’t want to be hampered in picking up my elder two by a scar and I quite like (??!!) the “bonding” vibe that the labour process was for my husband and I as a team. All this is to say: two births and recoveries in the same woman can be so different (my VBAC baby was actually bigger than my c-Sec one) so don’t think of the first when it comes to deciding on the second; as long as you have a gynae you really trust to have your best interests at heart you know you are on the right track (perhaps this is different where I am – South Africa – where you are with one gynae your whole pregnancy and they deliver the baby?). Good luck! X

  42. Simona
    November 9, 2016 / 11:13 am

    Ruth, I think you should decide what kind of birth you want and can have only after a proper ULTRASOUND around the time you are due, even if you need to pay for it.

    Also, a second important factor to consider is the quality of your first C-section. I understand that at a given point it opened up and you had to go to the hospital… this sounds quite risky for VBAC as I understand your uterus can rip open on the scar during labour and pushing , however, only a good consultant can confirm (hopefully not the same that stitched you in the first place).

    I cannot believe that in your first pregnancy they could not spot a breach baby… We live in the 21st centruy and ultrasounds have been around for ages, however, NHS still practices belly measurements with a measurement tape just like in the Middle Ages.

  43. Brooke
    November 9, 2016 / 12:11 pm

    Hi Ruth, I was in the same position as you last year. My first child was an emergency c-section, I was about 12 hours into labour when I went for the epidural, and it caused his heart rate to drop so I was rushed into a c-section. This was the last thing I was expecting then and hadn’t even read the sections on c-section in the birthing books, thinking it would never happen to me. The recovery was so hard, being unable to pick my baby up, I couldn’t sit up with out pulling my self up for a week, plus no driving for 6 weeks.
    The second time around I was worried how will I cope with the recovery from a c-section while looking after a toddler and a baby, but on the other hand was really worried if I would be able to do it naturally either (the pain!)
    But in the end, he came 2 months early and I really had no choice but to have him naturally, and I’m so glad. I had an epidural again, which I’m so thankful for because i felt no pain, half an hour after he was out i was having a shower. Could walk around, cuddle my toddler, do so much more than if I’d had a c-section. Plus the satisfaction, at the point when you give the last push and he comes out is unbelievable!
    Good luck with your decision

  44. Victoria
    November 9, 2016 / 12:23 pm

    If I get pregnant again I’ll definitely be going for a planned c-section even though the idea of it terrifys me

    I had an emergency c-section after my labour failed to progress my son was 9lbs 4oz and was basically stuck. I told all the midwives throughout my pregnancy that big babies run in my family and that I was terrified of shoulder dystocia and they were all pretty blaze about it which annoyed me.
    It was only during the pushing when the midwife called in the two male doctors that my concerns were listened to. After he was delivered they both said they were so glad they didn’t go down the forceps route and was told I’ll probably need a c-section in future.
    Next day a female doctor came to see me and tells me she sees no reason I can’t have a VBAC in the future.

  45. Emma
    November 9, 2016 / 12:30 pm

    Oh Ruth, is so hard isn’t it? I’m not sure what I would do in your position but from what you are saying it does sound like you are being pressured into a VBAC you don’t want and your gut feeling lies with having the scheduled C section?

    I’ve only had one baby, vaginally, with gas and air so I cant really compare what recovery would be like compared to a planned section. I didn’t have a cannula but they did try (and failed) to give me a catheter after the birth as they thought my bladder was full and that’s why I wasn’t able to birth the placenta. You can imagine the swelling down there after having just given birth and they were struggling to get it in – it was excruciating and probably one of the worst parts of my birth! So just because you give birth vaginally doesn’t mean you miss out on that little treasure! I also tore and had to be stitched up and that was the worst part- not the tearing, its over so quickly, but the being stitched. Just horrendous.

    On the flip side I was discharged within 24hrs and went home where it was much nicer with my mum looking after me than at the hospital even though we had our own private room, there’s no place like home. I found the experience of giving birth amazing though, I know its not like that for everyone, but for me, despite the pain and everything else, it was the sensation of it. I ‘felt’ my son being born, I still remember the feeling of it (and oddly, not really the pain) and it was the most incredible sensation I have ever felt in my entire life. There’s something to be said for that I think.

    It does sound like having an emergency section is a lot harder on the body – for you, you had been through the entire labour (and that’s the hard part, pushing is easy compared to contractions) so you went into it exhausted and frightened. A planned one would be much more relaxed and in control it sounds like. I think you get to pick music in some paces too so you could pick some nice relaxing music that would calm you down. I would say look at the advice from those on here who have had a VBAC and go with your gut. Its your body and you know it best. xx Good luck!

  46. SMarie
    November 9, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    I’ve had 3 natural births, so i don’t know what it’s like having a c-section. My first was a long labour & birth, and my 2nd was breech until 37 weeks and then slipped out fast – 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital… and 3rd was even faster – baby was born 3 hours after my first contraction!! Approaching my 2nd labour, i had to keep reminding myself what my mid-wife told me -” your muscles have memories and know what to do better the next time round”. Another thing that i noticed between my 1st and later labour and births, was that i was allowed to keep mobile and moving with my last two compared to having to lay on the bed with legs in stirrups.
    Definitely follow your instincts. But my question is did you have an emergency c-section only because the baby was breech? If this baby is in the correct position, you might deliver fine, even a large baby.
    Facing the possibility of a c-section with my 2nd, i was actually hoping i would have to have one because i was scared to go through the same experience as my first, but as it happened, i was so thankful i allowed nature to work, and was home from hospital only 4 hours after the birth. 🙂
    If you have to stay in the hospital overnight, definitely request a private room. I’ve never felt more uncomfortable than being in a ward with 4 others, and if it wasn’t your baby waking you up, it was one of the others… not very restful after having just performed the largest feat of my life!
    I don’t know if this helps or not, but i can understand what a difficult decision you face.

  47. Jenny
    November 9, 2016 / 12:56 pm

    My first son was born by emergency c section and he weighed 11 pound. My second was born via planned c section 2 weeks before his due date and still weighed 9 pound 7. An emergency section is quite scary and traumatic, but the planned one was calm and uneventful. I understand the whole hospital thing and even the cannula thing. With my first I remember the cannula being more painful than the birth, but with my second I hardly felt a thing. I think fear heightens the pain, but I think if you do elect for a c section you would have a very different, pleasant experience. Also, for the recovery I had a part time nanny for 6 weeks, but could easily have managed by 4 weeks. Wishing you all the luck, it will all be fine you know. X

  48. Sarah
    November 9, 2016 / 2:24 pm

    Wow Ruth! I read your blog and it was as if you’d written my whole birth story. I wanted a natural home water birth, all was going well until 9cm birthing stalled and after hours of labouring ended having an Emergency C section as the 10.5lb was not coming out to say hi! I hate hospital and have a needle phobia, so I asked if they could sedate me – they said no. All went fine in the end, and so glad I was awake! But there is no way now I will go natural after such a big baby! I’d also hate to be induced and have an episiotomy or suction – so for me it will definitely be a planned c-section. I will be well rested, baby one will be at grannies and I will pay or get mum to help for the first week. Baby one was also two weeks late.
    I look forward to reading what this pro VBAC have to say, but ultimately go with your gut instinct!! Good luck

  49. Victoria
    November 9, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    Ruth, go with the c-section. Sure, you could have a great VBAC but you could also have a horrendous birth and be torn to shreds, like so many of my friends. Then you will have a scar on your tummy and a ruined downstairs, which will take way way longer than a c-section recovery. Why have both areas ruined?

    I lost twins last year in the delivery room (first birth) b/c the doctors didn’t realise that the umbilical cord of the lower twin tore when my waters broke. Had emergency c-section but they bled out before the c-section was finished. That was last September. I am now about to have another – planned – c-section on 7th December with a singleton pregnancy. The whole thing is terrifying. Hospitals are crazy and doctors, with the best will in the world, make mistakes, so I totally get where you are coming from having difficulty deciding what to choose. However I can’t even tell you how many of my friends have had terrible ripping and other complications from natural births, so even though scary I’m going the c-section route again.

    Sending you all the very best luck with whatever you decide is right for you.

  50. Lindsey
    November 9, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    I’ve just had to make the same decision. My initial c-section was classed as elective as it was a case of that the induction didn’t work. I recovered so well in comparison to my sister-in-law who had an emergency section. I am now 37 weeks and up until this point I’d wanted a VBAC…however, the odds stacked up with this one being estimated as already at 8lbs has made me say c-section again as I don’t want to go through labour for hours (strapped up to monitors and unable to move freely because of monitoring for rupture) to end up having an emergency section anyway. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  51. Julie
    November 9, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    Our birth histories are very similar. I had a helluva time conceiving Baby #1 (took almost four years) and then had to have a scheduled c-section because she was breach the entire time and my amniotic fluid was borderline low. Less than two years later, I got pregnant on our second attempt, after thinking that we probably would only be able to have the one. Anyway, I chose to have a scheduled c-section for Baby #2. I live in the US and have good health insurance, so it wasn’t a problem, although many doctors and nurses kept quietly encouraging me to VBAC. You should do what feels right for you and your family but here are my thoughts on VBAC or not VBAC. Pro VBAC: 1) You know when you’ll have your baby and can plan accordingly. This was especially important to me as I wanted to make sure to schedule lots of time with Baby #1 who did not take to being a Big Sister all that well. As a corollary, you can make arrangements for childcare etc knowing that you’ll need it starting on date X. 2) I was encouraged to VBAC b/c as my OB said, there is less than 1% chance of uterine rupture in such cases. Guess what. When I went in for the second VBAC, my OB said, “Thank god you didn’t try to deliver vaginally. Your uterus is stretched very thin and would’ve likely ruptured.” 3) Although you’ll still be exhausted, you won’t be “I labored for 24 hours” exhausted when Baby #2 makes his/her arrival. 4) In my case, the recovery time was a snap. I was on my feet within a few hours and generally felt much better – didn’t even need the pain meds. I think it was because psychologically I knew what to expect the second time around. I was able to go home from the hospital after two days, whereas with Baby #1 I was there for four.

    There are cons too. Although my recovery after the C-section was easier the second time around, the second surgery itself was harder than the first; it took longer for the doctor to get in and it definitely took longer to get out. It was also definitely less comfortable. And of course, they tell you after C-section not to pick up anything heavier than the new baby…but that’s just impossible. Especially in my case because Baby #1 was utterly traumatized by Baby #2’s arrival and wanted to be held *all the time*. But if you have a good support network at home (my husband works freelance as do I and so could be home with me — also my sisters and mom were with me for almost a month after the baby’s arrival), then it’s doable. What I realized through all of this is that the best thing for your baby is what is best for you (and for your family). However it happens, the most important thing is having a healthy baby to bring home. You’ll be amazing whatever way you decide to deliver. Big hugs from across the pond.

  52. Happymama
    November 9, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    I was in a similar situation too, to add my voice to the masses!
    First child was planned c section due to placenta previa. I too had hoped for a water birth but it was c section or nothing. Thanks to the amazing Maggie Howell hypnotherapy CDs and course I got through it very positively and I am a scaredy cat, particularly the thought of being awake while also being operated on during c section wasn’t a terribly nice one and I also had several miscarriages prior to that to contend with emotionally. i also had the quickest recovery out of my NCT group (sample size of 8), 6 of whom had intervention laden natural births which tells you something!
    Second time around with another precious and much longed for baby following an ectopic pregnancy and IVF I ummed and ahhed about vbac. I plumped for c sec in the end. There are no guarantees with a natural birth and while I would have loved to experience it I don’t think I could have handled it emotionally should anything at all have gone awry. Medical professionals know what they’re doing with a planned c sec and it takes the risk factor out of it for them. My consultant was amazing and said he’d support me either way given my history which gave me the confidence to ignore any other well meaning health care professionals when they tried to convince me to vbac (it might enter the lexicon as a new verb in the same way that to medal seems to have done at the Olympics). I’m also convinced that part of the reason for pushing vbac so hard(excuse the pun) is cost- my consultant said it’s the cheapest option followed by planned c sec with emergency c sec the priciest for the NHS.
    Anyhoo, planned c sec it was, it was what I knew and I had some comfort in that and I also knew what to expect and how to prepare for it. Yes the no driving/picking up toddler thing is annoying, however you can plan to have help and to be honest I’m the kind of person who would be popping on a load of washing when I’d just got home from hospital or making tea for visitors with a newborn so the c section well and truly ruled me out of any of that! The time just flies by with the second one and the extra help certainly doesn’t go amiss!
    Lets face it, extracting a small human from ones nether regions is no picnic either way and there are pros and cons to both methods. I’m convinced I made the right choice for me and all the more so from hearing various vbac horror stories from friends which I won’t regale you with. Follow your instincts and if it’s c sec you want then don’t back down until you get one. You do have a choice.
    Good luck!

  53. Andrea
    November 10, 2016 / 12:14 am

    There was one major deciding factor for me in choosing to have another Caesarian, rather than attempting a VBAC, and that was the risk to the baby. For some reason I could stomach the idea of increased risk to myself, but when my OBGYN explained that there was also significant added risk to the baby in a VBAC situation, that made my decision on the spot. To me, unnecessarily adding risk where my child was concerned felt selfish and I wasn’t going to do it just so that I could have a different birth experience. Not to mention that the experience would up very different anyway, simply because it was planned rather than unplanned. My first go round, I’d planned a vaginal birth – but it stalled and I would up with a rushed, stressful Caesarian. Knowing ahead of time that I was going in for a Caesarian allowed me to mentally plan a little more for it and discuss my preferences with my doctor. We discussed the parts of the procedure that I hated and didn’t want and the things I felt I missed out on the first time (e.g. being able to hold him right away (my arms were sort of immobilized the first time)). My second was a totally different kettle of fish – it went really smoothly and was a completely different experience. Yes, recovery still wasn’t fun, but, at the end of the day, I wound up with a very positive second birth experience AND the added benefit of no significant trauma to my lady bits – which friends tell me I should be thankful for. 🙂
    Best of luck to you in your decision – whatever that may be. I’m sure you’ll find the right choice for you. In my experience, it did happen to be true (and continues to be true) that everything the second time around was much easier/more relaxed.

  54. Theresa
    November 10, 2016 / 12:34 am

    My first pregnancy ended with a c-section after a 30 hour labor. I only made it to 8cm and my cervix was incredibly swollen. Let me tell you, that c-section was tough; recovery was horrible. With my second I was determined to have a VBAC, and I was lucky enough to have a practice that suppported me 100% – I was a perfect candidate. God had other plans – I delivered at 38 weeks due to complications with preeclampsia. Because I was a prior c-section, they wouldn’t induce me so it was right to the operating room. Both the delivery and the recovery were very very different from my first. I think I felt a bit more this time; I wasn’t in such a daze from enduring such a long labor. Once I got the magnesium out of my system, the recovery was much easier – again I attribute that to no labor.

    My baby is 5mo and I am still mourning my delivery. I wasnt expecting that. A VBAC is no longer an option for me. I’ll never push my baby from my body. I’ll never get to pull him or her to my chest and kiss their goey head – my husband will always get the first skin to skin. I have two beautiful, healthy little boys and I am blessed to be their mother, because that’s what’s important. But I can’t help but feel the loss. I know it won’t be there forever, but it’s there now and will probably be there again, should I be blessed with another child. I don’t feel like less of a mother. You don’t get a medal or extra points for a vaginal delivery – just an easier recovery, but sometimes I think about it and I get sad. But then i look at my son, and realize he doesn’t care how he got here, he just cares that he’s mine and I’m happy again.

  55. Nicole
    November 10, 2016 / 4:38 am

    I had an emergency c section in June …small baby at 6 pounds 5 ounces…but she was stuck. My recovery was actually not bad at all. I would opt for a planned c section next time but only because I had an easy recovery. Everyone is so different. I always had the thought that I already have a scar…why would I also want damaged lady parts! Haha. Turns out all the pushing I did, did some damage anyway.

  56. Caroline
    November 10, 2016 / 7:53 am

    Hi Ruth. My first was breech so had c section so with my second I was adamant I wanted a VBAC for the reasons you suggested – 1st to experience it, second to be out of hospital quicker….. I did have a vaginal birth and yes I’m glad I experienced it, but I also lost so much blood that I ended up being in hospital longer than I had for my C section…… They will book you in for a c section anyway if you are so many days over – I would leave it to nature to decide – if she/he comes in time go for the VBAC if not the C section is booked!

  57. Tracy
    November 10, 2016 / 8:48 am

    Ruth i love your writing. As someone who is 36 weeks pregnant with her first baby you seem to be a voice of sanity in a world that wants to force various opinions on you. You always seem to write what I have felt at various stages during my pregnancy – I’m a massive fan.

  58. Diana
    November 10, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Have you thought about using another hospital? Or go private there?

    I have no children but I wondered whether your fear of that hospital makes the whole thring so much worse. Xx

  59. Samantha
    November 10, 2016 / 9:16 am

    Hi Ruth. Judging by how you sound, if you choose VBAC, you will do nothing but worry and stress yourself – and probably therefore the baby – throughout the entire labour. Surely being in a heightened state of stress is going to affect the way you labour and possibly increase chance of having an emergency c-sec anyway? Yes, c-sections are big surgery and involve recovery time, but it gives you the control that it sounds like you need.

    I don’t have children so I’m sure my input is not relevant but something to think about nevertheless.

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do x

  60. Debora
    November 10, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    Oh Ruth, I love your honesty. I’m a huge fan! I went through the same stuff with my first baby, had to do the whole Vbac a few weeks ago. Couldn’t decide what to do for a long time as felt like a failure not willing to try to deliver baby two naturally but not wanting to go through the stress of another emergency c section. Glad to say that in the end I decided to have an elective c section, even though some midwives were trying to push me to have vbac. It was the most relaxing and beautiful experience (I’m a nurse and hate hospitals myself!). Good luck with your decision.

  61. November 10, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    I had a c-section a little over a week ago and just wasn’t prepared for how I would feel afterwards. After a 39 hour long labour I discovered babies head was at a funny angle and he was stuck. We are 9 days postpartum and I just starting to mentally get back to some strength. There is nothing worse than the hospital stay and also then going home and not being able to move how you should or care for your baby as you should be able too!

    I’m not sure we will even have another, and I would LOVE a natural birth just at the hope of a different recovery, however I have heard that planned c-sections are way more chilled out and the recovery is easier, however having an additional baby to care for may impact that too?

  62. Mo
    November 10, 2016 / 9:01 pm

    Hi Ruth, I am so annoyed when I hear people say your body is designed to birth whatever size baby you have. When complications arise, you often don’t get as far as birth, size and ability mean nothing at that point in labor. I am often reminded sadly of cases resulting in cerebral palsy, because quick decisions to intervene were not taken. I had an emergency c section 1st time around after a failed induction and baby distress. It saved my baby and who knows maybe mine too. Given the choice you now face, if it were me I would have a planned c section. Because for me its a simple choice between 2 desires, a baby born alive or feeling great for having given birth unaided. The former is by far the most precious to me. But you need to make that decision yourself and then stick with it, no explaining or justifying. Its your body, blood and sweat, no one else’s. No decision is wrong, you will go with what gives you peace of mind and that is fundamentally so important. I too was confused and bullied a little by staff but if you have trust in your consultant listen to them, they have been at the coalface. I wish you all the best in this 2nd journey and don’t fret, it will turn out great. Xxxxx

  63. Anne
    November 10, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    Haven’t given birth but having read all the above comments would humbly advise 1) going private and 2) given your high anxiety levels, potential large size of baby and shortness of time between pregnancies, having a planned c-section.

  64. Charlie's girl
    November 10, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    I’m not a mother but have a sister that experienced the agony of a prolonged birth that then ended in a c sec anyway and not sure anyone needs to experience this twice….so….C sec all the way from our family….good luck! Xxxxx

  65. Lina Tessy
    November 11, 2016 / 1:27 am

    Hi Ruth, i had an elective c section and i can tell you that the recovery isn’t bad at all, i was in hospital for 2 and a bit days and i could drive a week after the procedure!
    from what i know, recovering from an elective is much easier as your body hasn’t gone through hours of hard work, and the surgeon isn’t rushed to do it!
    sometimes women who have natural birth can stay in hospital up to 5 days!
    whatever you decide, you have to make sure that nobody should make you feel guilty and inadequate, i had many people telling me i was doing the wrong thing, but i know myself, and i know my body, as long as you are safe, and baby is safe, delivery method shouldn’t matter! if all women were ‘built’ to deliver any baby size shape..etc then we would not have had interventions and c sections schedules!
    all the best, hugs to you!

  66. Raj
    November 12, 2016 / 7:32 am

    Hi Ruth. Love the blog and my first time posting. I’m not a mum but hope to be one day and I have a medical research background into this area of CS and VBAC and birth choice and it honestly makes me so so mad to read that you are essentially being forced to attend a VBAC class to even see a consultant. Your a woman who can make her own choices and this forced pathway many many hospitals put women who want CS are unreal. You’ve elquently described all of the sound reasons why you’ve chosen to have another CS, any midwife should respect the views and rights of the women in their care. This isn’t an area of care where we should have to fight or put up on argument but sadly it is. Wishing you all the very best x

  67. Vicky
    November 12, 2016 / 10:05 am

    Oh Ruth
    I am with you! My LO is 14 months old and was delivered by emergency c section due to me not progressing. My section was as good as planned I think as it was relaxed because I had time I just stuck on 4cm following induction for 3 days. I’m currently 4 months pregnant and am totally stuck although no one at my hospital seems to be helping me. They are asking me what I want, vbac or section I asked for help and they said as your last was 9lb 8oz maybe go for a section but that doesn’t help me. I have got to tell them at 36 what I want which also doesn’t help. I am lost. I do think why have scars on my belly and possibly down there when I can just stick to my belly haha but I want to experience a natural birth but what if it ends in a section anyway. I was so knackered from labouring and it ending in section I thought what was the point of 3 day contractions, what if it happens again and I have the option to prevent that. On the other hand I will not be back to running round for a few months after birth. I will look forward to reading your decision and reasons.
    Ps I never thought to ask about the vbac rates in my hospital I am going to do that

  68. Ellen
    November 12, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    Hi – I currelty have the same dilema, my first was an emergency C section and i am pretty confident this time I am going to try for a VBAC. And if it doesn’t work c section is always there again as an option. This is potentially my last baby and I feel I may regret not trying for a natural birth. If you had a c section as Angelica was breech then there is no reason you can’t have a natural birth next time

  69. Ellen
    November 12, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    Also my first baby was 9lb 14oz but apparently it’s easier if they are bigger…

  70. Louise McKechnie
    November 13, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    I have two boys, first born vaginally after a long induction (16 hours on the drip!) and the second by emergency c-section at 36 weeks (ruptured placenta). I do not wish to be dramatic but the whole “emergency” nature of the c section was quite difficult to be honest. It all felt quite panicky and I ended up needing a general anaesthetic as they couldn’t get the epidural needle in as I was shaking so much! Long recovery, very tricky first few days and I would certainly rather have by passes all this with a planned c section had it been possible in my case. Don’t feel under pressure to go for a VBAC – I have heard so many first hand stories of calm, planned c sections. They sound like a dream to me! Go for what makes you feel hippies the, calmest and most in control. I think it was that lack of control with my second which was perhaps the trickiest thing about it. Best of luck, and make the decision with no one else in your mind than you and baby. Louise xxxx

  71. Abby
    November 13, 2016 / 10:26 pm

    My first birth was awful, I just about had my baby ‘naturally’ in the end but with every possible sort of intervention going short of a c-section. When I was getting towards the end of my second pregnancy everyone told me to ask for a planned c-section as it would be better than the traumatic 1st delivery but I was too chicken, im like you and couldnt cope with the thought of everything and knowing it would entail a long hospital stay again, I thought at least if i went for the natural option there was a chamce it would be better. And it was totally fine (still hurt like hell but all things are relative!) Start to finish was only about 10 hours and my baby was a giant 11 pounds 8!!! Was out of hospital next day. Glad i decided to hope for the best! Xx

    • Melanie
      November 16, 2016 / 8:09 pm

      My first was ten pound but all the rest were smaller.
      I’ve had friends who’ve had HBACS- homebirths after caesarean successfully.

  72. Cécile
    November 16, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Hello Ruth,
    I’ve just had a c-section last July. Doctors told me if I was pregnant again within 18 months I’ll have a c-section. That’s in France.

  73. Ali
    November 16, 2016 / 8:34 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments but thought I would add my comments. I had an emergency induction after a failed induction but around the same time two friends had planned c-sections. Their experience of c-sections was completely different to mine, I think not having been in hospital for the three preceding nights helped for a start. So don’t think a planned c-section would be comparable to your last one. Also, a friend just gave birth to number two and that was about 7oz lighter!

  74. Catherine
    November 17, 2016 / 10:33 pm

    Hi Ruth, so many stories here you can see there are many ways things can go. As others say, do what feels right for you, and don’t let anyone pressure you to make a decision that you aren’t at ease with. I will say, however, that birth either way often involves needles, catheters, and other interventions, despite the best laid plans (as you know!). Even if you have a VBAC you may feel at some point that you need an epidural… Not that you would be forced to get one, of course! I can only tell you I felt anything *but* in control before I got an epidural, I was just not coping (though I’ve heard this is common for induced labour, it goes from 0 to 12 on the scale very quickly). At the end, you will be so happy to meet your precious bundle, it won’t matter too much how he or she is delivered 😉

    Good luck, and thankyou so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this blog.


  75. Laura
    November 26, 2016 / 5:01 am

    Hi Ruth, I had my first baby by c-section because he was also large like Angelica (he was 10 lbs) and he engaged in my pelvis and moved back up 3 times. I wasn’t dilating at all. My doctor who has a very low csection rate, told me that I could try to have my son naturally but in his experience I would probably end up with a csection. And to think about it, and he would do what I wanted, but he recommended an elective csection. Being my first, and having gestational hypertension and on partial bedrest, we ended up having the csection. I am also PETRIFIED of hospitals, needles, etc etc. When my son came out, the anesthesiologist said WOW that is a big baby, you made the right decision! All the nurses came by to ask if I was the one with a 10 lb baby, he was a star in the labor ward! Ha. Anyway, so for my 2nd, I also thought of the VBAC route but to be honest, I felt that it was too risky for the baby. With the csection, I would assume most of the risk if anything went wrong, they could get her out fast. The 2nd csection was much much easier recovery-wise, I was very calm and seeing her face and nursing was so easy. I was up and walking like nothing had happened after 12 hrs. Very different to my 1st which was a very painful recovery. Maybe its because the muscles are used to being cut. Anyway best of luck to whatever you choose, but I wanted to offer my story since I was in your position. 🙂

  76. Charl
    November 30, 2016 / 11:11 pm

    It’s great that you have considered so many factors regarding the hospital’s statistics.
    If anything, they help you to draw lines in your mind about where you stand.

    For example, you know how high the rate of induction is. If you don’t fancy that process, then if you get to a point where you need one then maybe it is worth considering opting for an elective. If you are measuring larger for dates, perhaps gestational diabetes is something they will screen for, which may also have an influence.

    You may also want to consider the change in how your labour will be due to the fact you have had a previous caesarean. They are going to want to monitor you using a CTG, may want a cannula a lot earlier on and this may be different to your original experience of early labour.

    You’re absolutely right about the recovery, but sometimes the process of induction can take days and you may be in hospital longer than if you had gone for an elective in the first place. This may not always be the optimistic outlook, but there are decisions you have to make yourself. Big babies are born vaginally every day, don’t let that factor be a sole reason to opt for caesarean.

  77. Tanya
    December 2, 2016 / 1:24 am


    I haven’t seen anyone mention this, so I figured I would fill in the blank.

    C-sections are excellent interventions for when labor does not go according to plan and the doctors determine it is more safe to cut you open than to try to manually rotate the baby.

    That being said, there is a reason baby comes out when it does. You need to let it cook in there as long as you can manage to keep it in. Human gestation periods may seem long, but humans are born very early in terms of brain development; much of our brain development is just underway by the time you are giving birth, and the majority happens postnatally. It is a great sign your first baby was so big. Don’t be scared off by that.

    There was a disturbing trend that began in the 90’s or so where women would “schedule” their C-sections, and the doc would be able to play gold or crochet on the weekends! This is not healthy, and has been going out of vogue- thankfully. Moreover, vaginal births expose your baby to your yeast and bacteria-rich vaginal canal (yum). This has been shown in a recent study to result in a more immune-prepared baby (As a side note, the study also showed that if they wiped a baby delivered by c-section with a towel that had been you know where, the babies were just as protected immune-wise and got less sick:

    If there was anyway to go for the VBAC, but keep yourself mentally prepared for the C-section (given its likelihood)- do so!

  78. Darcy
    December 8, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    I’m disgusted a midwife told you that. Women die of obstructed labour all the time in the third world due to the baby being too large or malpositioned. What is she on? I really dislike midwives sometimes. So many of them value doing things naturally at the expense of safety. Sure maybe most women are physically capable of having a 9 or 10 lb baby but without forceps? Without a massive tear? Without a hideous amount of pain? I would not expect to get reliable information about VBACs from a midwife and I’m seriously rolling my eyes that they are withholding access to a consultant until you sit through their natural childbirth propaganda.

  79. Jan
    December 18, 2016 / 8:39 am

    Not a straight forward decision. My second son was breech until 38 weeks and then “turned” naturally, I recall it involved a bout of diarrhoea. He arrived without being induced and I delivered him myself, he was 11bs 7 oz. People would say “no surely you mean 7lbs 11oz?” I didn’t. My daughter arrived 17 months later and there was all sorts of concerns about how big she would be. The decision was made for me to be induced a week early, I had the lot, even the foetal scalp monitor, she as “face to pubes” delightful term. I delivered her myself and she was 11bs 9 oz. My GP said I must have a pelvis the size of a car park! It was my claim to fame, and was a novelty for all of 5 mins. They are 21 and 22 respectively with a 24 year old brother. I don’t want to sound like some all knowing sage, but I am thinking of you

  80. Lindsey
    December 18, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    Here in the US woman are encouraged to have another C section after a previous C section so it’s interesting to see the differences. Trust your mommy instincts!

  81. December 19, 2016 / 1:12 pm

    Right, I’m not a mum or even pregnant but I will say this – it’s your choice. Bloody hospital staff can not force you to do anything. A 69% induction rate is high – too bloody high. I really feel that hospital staff get a bit desensitised to patients, and their needs, forgetting that it’s not just ‘another shift’ to the patient. It seems a bit ‘get it over quickly so I can go and pop the kettle on’ to me.

    Hope the class was OK, and you find your solution.

  82. Laura
    December 26, 2016 / 12:08 am

    I ended up having what was classed as an elective c section with my first child. We live in Australia where I think by the sounds of it c sections are more common (someone once told me 1 in 2 births at my particular hospital, not sure if that is right). He was 5 days overdue, predicted to be well over 4 kgs (which isn’t very big compared to some of the other comments), I have relatively narrow hips and my OB said she thought I would most likely end up having a section regardless of which birth route I took. At the time I was determined to have a natural birth, however I had a big fear about being induced as had had my whole pregnancy filled with horror stories about inductions. My OB wouldn’t let me go more than a week overdue, so on my due date we booked an c section for 5 days time and I tried my hardest to make myself go into labour – I did all the old wives tales, had acupuncture etc, no such luck and on the 5th day of being overdue I found myself waiting for my c section. I hate hospitals, I hate needles, I have never been so frightened of what was in front of me but tried desperately to focus on the fact I would soon meet my little boy. Everything went to plan, the cannula in my hand was by far the worst part of the procedure (which they messed up), and my little boy was brought into the world in such a calm and gentle way. I look back at the whole thing with the fondest memories, I loved every second of our hospital stay, the midwives were fantastic and I am so grateful that I had this experience.

    Every other mother in my mothers group had a traumatic experience in one way or another, even those who had relatively straight forward births, the recovery after both physically and emotionally seemed pretty involved. Yes my physical recovery was probably slightly slower, although completely manageable, but I certainly don’t carry the emotional scars that can sometimes come with natural birth.

    I am now pregnant with my second child and this time around I am going to opt for an elective section. In fact I actually can’t wait, I am so excited about that hospital stay which is such a strange feeling! The one thing I have hated and will no doubt hate going forward is the judgement that comes with having an elective c section. My son turned out to be much smaller than predicted and the number of maternal health nurses or people in general that have questioned why I had a c section is staggering. I have felt on numerous occasions the need to justify why we went down that particular route and have definitely felt as though Im viewed as less of a mum because I didn’t attempt to labour naturally.

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt in this whole motherhood experience is that everyone is different, and you just have to do what feels right for you xxx

  83. December 28, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    Just wondered how your decision making is going?

    I’m 32 weeks and in a similar position to you. 2nd baby on the way after an emergency c section 19 months ago.

    I’m currently very confused! Not sure what to prepare for or aim for…

    I’ve now today just been told conflicting information by a consultant about induction…he said they would only break my waters where as the midwife said they would give me drugs on a drip….

    Hope you’re feeling calm and happy about everything.

    Happy new year!

  84. Alison
    January 2, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Hi Ruth
    Just read your latest email, I so think you should follow your instincts because you have to have trust and feel confident in whatever option you go for so that when you’re in the middle of it, you have that confidence in what you’re doing. If you’re “coerced” into a situation you feel you should accept but don’t 100% feel is right, that would be awful.
    (I’m now in my fifties, and had 2 babies about the same distance apart as you with an emergency c-section for my first baby. I was very lucky and was able to choose to have an elective after doing my own research with no pressure from hospital to choose either method.)
    All the very best to you xxx

  85. February 9, 2017 / 8:39 am

    Ruth – I’d love to know how you got hold of the stats on VBACs and emergy c-sections and also the induction rates of your hospital. I’m trying to decide between two hospitals at the moment and this would be very illuminating! If you can me where or how this hallowed information is available I’d be very grateful! Thanks so much, Emma x

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