Finding the right VBAC provider is a daunting task for me. As my husband and I start talking about trying for baby #2, this decision weighs on my mind a lot. Even putting aside the fact that I am not currently stationed in the same area as we will be when we do start our second pregnancy, the enormity of the task is intense. The more birth stories that I read, and the more resources that I find, a common thread is that it is absolutely positively essential to have a supportive team that you trust and can depend on to be there for you during your VBAC experience.
I usually try to be as impartial and methodical as possible when I pick our medical providers, but finding a VBAC supportive provider is so much more than that. Of course, there are checklists that I can use and questions that I can ask like:
How many VBACs have you attended? What is the success rate? How many uterine ruptures have you seen?
What is your philosophy on going past 40 weeks? If I were to go post date, what options would you offer and at what time? 41 weeks? 42 weeks? 43 weeks?
Do you have any standard VBAC protocols that you follow that differ from non-VBAC birth?
What kind of pain management techniques do you encourage? Do you support water birth? Will you support a home birth?
But I think the biggest factor in picking my VBAC provider will be how well we “click” together. This is why I am nervous. During my first pregnancy, I participated in a new program offered at my hospital called “Centering Pregnancy” where appointments were held in a group setting (aside from the height and weight check, checking the fetal heartbeat and fundal height). During these appointments, I felt relatively comfortable. The same midwife, OB and nurse were there each month as well as four other couples participating in the program. We discussed different topics each month, and while I felt like I learned a lot during these appointments, I didn’t establish a good enough relationship with the Midwife. She did happen to be the one on duty during the second half of my labor, and she wasn’t as supportive or present as I thought she was going to be. In fact, I can only remember for sure seeing her twice during my labor and in both instances she was insisting that my baby was too big but I could “go ahead and try to push.” Followed by her walking out of the room.
So, I worry that my ability to pick a supportive provider might be weak. Fortunately, there are a few organizations available to help find supportive providers for mothers who are seeking VBAC. The first one that I learned about is called the International Cesarean Awareness Network or ICAN. ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). There are ICAN chapters all over the world, and each one has mothers that have experienced VBAC and can provide recommendations of midwives and obstetricians in the area. Connecting to a local chapter on Facebook, I have been able to interact with other moms from that area. I’ve learned more about the providers, what their quirks are, who they work with well, who they don’t work with well, what hospitals are more supportive than others and much more.
What did you look for in your provider? What resources did you use to find a provider?