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My Quest to VBAC in Dallas

If you are a mother who has had a low transverse uterine incision from a C-section and is interested in your birthing options then this is the post for you…

Many people ask me why having a VBAC (Vaginal-Birth-After-Cesarean) was so important to me. Why would I go through pain and medical risk when I could simply schedule a second C-section? For me, I was motivated to VBAC for two reasons: one personal and the other medical.

The first moments of my 1st sons life via C-section

The first moments of my 1st sons life via C-section

When my first son was born via an unexpected C-section, I felt robbed. I had just endured 36 hours of induced labor, dilated to 9.5cm and been forced to have a C-section when my son’s heart rate began to fall. It was over an hour after his birth, that I was first able to hold him and I missed the immediate skin-to-skin bonding time. Personally, I was weary of the operation itself and had hoped to give life the way my body was made to. But I was most disappointed in the fact that I felt disconnected and drugged in the first moments of his life.

While I am incredibly grateful for the medical capabilities that brought my first child into this world, I wanted desperately to avoid a C-section birthing experience the second time around.

I was also motivated to VBAC for medical reasons.

As a major abdominal operation, my C-section was difficult to recover from physically, and I could not imagine the burden of undergoing another recovery period while also caring for a toddler and newborn.

I was also motivated by the longer-term impact on my body and my future children: avoiding the increased risk of a weakened uterine wall, placenta complications, bladder injuries, heavy bleeding and potential hysterectomy.

While there are risks associated with a VBAC as well, including uterine rupture, I learned that these were very rare (<0.4% incidence) and by comparison less risky to a mother or child’s health than repeat C-sections.

First moments after my 2nd sons birth via VBAC

First moments after my 2nd sons birth via VBAC

With the help of a caring doctor, doula, and husband I achieved my all-natural VBAC at Baylor Hospital in Dallas at 41 weeks and 6 days to a healthy 9 pound baby boy. My body did what it was supposed to do and it was everything I dreamed it would be: bonding immediately with my child and feeling present for the entire experience. My VBAC was an incredibly empowering and moving moment and I cannot wait to do it again!

While I do not believe a VBAC is appropriate for every mother or every birth, I believe that every woman should be properly educated to make an informed decision. Below are some facts I’ve learned on VBACs and tips to plan for a successful VBAC in Dallas.

 History of VBAC

For much of the last century, a woman who had a cesarean section almost always had a planned repeat C-section. But in the 1980’s and 90’s VBAC’s gained popularity beacause:
• Doctors began making the surgical cut in a different part of the uterus which is much less likely to open during a VBAC labor.
• A growing body of research established the high likelihood of safety with VBAC.
• Risks of a C-section, especially repeat C-sections, became clearer as the-C-section rate increased.

It is estimated that 70% of women who plan a VBAC can birth vaginally and avoid the complications of repeat cesarean surgeries, but the majority of women today have a repeat operation because most doctors and many hospitals refuse to allow VBAC. These restrictions are often the result of insurance policies, lawsuits concerns, or simply the convenience of a scheduled delivery.

vbac

Texas is at 35.1% C-section rate — one of the highest in the Country

7 Tips for a Successful VBAC:

1) Find the right doctor and consider a doula

My effort to VBAC required finding the right doctor. In my search, I was turned away from multiple doctors, one of which called me “selfish” for wanting a VBAC birth.

For a period of time, I was a patient of another doctor who had VBAC’d herself multiple times, instilling confidence that I had found the right person. This comfort, however, was short lived when, at five months, she urged me to put a C-Section on the calendar “just in case.” This was a red flag moment for me, supported by the fact that her hospital had less than a 3% VBAC success rate.

Eventually, I researched and hired a doula, Delilah Ray from Cherish Birth, with VBAC experience and started my third quest to find a VBAC-friendly doctor. Delilah’s experience facilitated this search, and I eventually met Dr. Yolanda Lawson at MadeWell OBGYN and knew she would be a perfect VBAC advocate. Delilah and Dr. Lawson were a dream birthing team, encouraging me through the entire process.  I couldn’t have done it without them.

Some other suggested VBAC-friendly doctors, doulas, and hospitals include:

Doulas with VBAC experience

o Delilah Ray – Cherish Birth

o Maria Pokulda – Great Expectations Doula Services

o Abbey Robinson – Divine Birth Doula

VBAC experienced doctors

o   Dr. Yolanda Lawson – MadeWell OBGYN Baylor Dallas

o   Dr. Frederick Cummings – USMD – Denton Presby

o   Dr. LeAnne Haddock – Magnolia OBGYN- Baylor Dallas

o   Dr. Charles Downey – Richardson OBGYN – Richardson Methodist

VBAC friendly hospital

Highest successful VBAC rates in Dallas

o   Baylor Dallas – 15.42%

o   Richardson Methodist – 30.16 %

o   Presbyterian Denton – 16.38%

Lowest successful VBAC rates in Dallas

o   Medical City Dallas – 5.28%

o   Presbyterian Dallas – 2.2%

o   Presbyterian Plano – 3.61%

2) Know the facts & stats

Many of my initial visits to anti-VBAC doctors were filled with what I consider to be misinformation about the risks of a VBAC. While I do agree that there are specific risks to a VBAC above and beyond a repeat C-section, I feel that these are rare events when properly understood.  For example, a VBAC birth does have a slightly greater chance of uterine rupture (+0.4% greater odds, or +1 in 258 VBACs), or even the death of the child due to uterine rupture (+0.02% greater odds, or +1 in 5,000 VBACs).

But, repeated C-sections also increase your risk of certain complications, which my initial doctors often failed to compare side-by-side. For example, the likelihood of developing placenta previa, or placenta accrete (which can have serious adverse consequences for both mother and baby) increases with the number of previous cesareans.

Given that I hoped to have more children, I found the escalating risks associated with C-sections concerning. With a deeper understanding of the data behind VBACs I was able to support my decision to others and defend the practice.

Other stats available at https://www.childbirthconnection.org

vbacf1

immediate skin to skin bonding after VBAC

3) Go into labor naturally

Chances of a successful VBAC are greatly increased if you go into labor naturally. This means that you and your doctor are both comfortable waiting until 42+ weeks (if need be) and having a large baby. Avoid induction, pitocin specifically, and wait at home as long as you can before going to the hospital. 

4) Consider natural childbirth

Moving around, bouncing on a ball and squatting greatly increases your chance of success. You are unable to do this with an epidural. If this is not of interest to you then you should try and wait as long as you possibly can before getting the epidural.

5) Take a class and be prepared

o   Bradley Birth Class – http://www.bradleybirth.com

o   HypnoBirthing – http://www.hypnobirthing.com

o   HypnoBabies – https://www.hypnobabies.com

6) See a Webster Technique Chiropractor (specific for pregnant women)

o   Dr. Ruth Durkee – http://www.handsforhealthchiropractic.com

o   Dr. Tara Connolly – http://www.sozochiro.com

o   Dr. Denisa Weber – http://www.drdenisa.com

7) Join a DFW VBAC support group – for encouragement, to hear others stories, peace of mind and to ask questions.

o   Dallas Area Birth Network – http://www.birthnetwork.org/dallas.htm

o   DFW VBAC/Cesarean Support Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/598482926880022/

This may seem like quite the process and frankly, you might be a bit overwhelmed after reading this but please take away from this post that as a woman, you have every right to give birth the way you want to give birth. Do not feel pressured to have another C-Section if you desire something different. You can reach this goal in Dallas…I did! I hope this post empowers you C-Section Mommy’s out there to ask questions and get informed! With whatever you decide I support you.

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11 Responses to My Quest to VBAC in Dallas

  1. Karla May 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    Nice post, Lindsey! There is a lot of good info here helpful to women who are seeking a VBAC.

  2. Keenan May 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Thank you so very much for this post. My first labor was perfection but after 2.5 hours of pushing the dr said it was time for a c-section. My daughter is 17 months now and I have thought about it every single day since. This is exactly what I needed to read! Thank you!

  3. Courtney May 28, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. Its exactly what I needed to read. And makes me feel less alone in my birth story journey. Truly thank you.

  4. Brooke May 28, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Great article! I can only echo similar feelings after my first birth, a c-section. I was able to stay with my same doctor who agreed to VBAC. But like the author, he started giving me push back at about 6 months. Luckily, I hired a doula, Brenda Shumway w MotherMe Doulas, and with her assistance we had a great VBAC experience. I labored with no Pitocin but still got an epidural. I would encourage any mom to research and to make an informed decision. The old saying, “Once cut, always cut” shouldn’t apply any longer to 21st c-sections.
    Good luck!

  5. Jill June 2, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    I am so grateful you wrote this!! I am a mother who has had 2 successful VBACs in the Dallas area, and people often ask me why I did that. My first child was breech and I just assumed I had not other option besides Ceasarian (turns out there are OBs in DFW who will deliver breech babies vaginally). My sister was born VBAC after my C birth, so I just naturally decided the next kid would be a VBAC. Turns out, I had some trouble finding an OB who would take me on. I never waivered from my decision to find a new OB and VBAC because I felt something was missing from my C birth. I had a controlled induction with an epidural VBAC with the birth of my second child, and I still felt something was missing. My third child was born last year with a beautiful unmedicated VBAC at a hospital with a low VBAC rate. It was my favorite birth BY FAR! Maria Pokluda was my doula and I can’t recommend her enough! Ladies, don’t believe everything you’re told. Prayerful consider what God wants for you and if you feel He is leading you that way, GO!

  6. Sarah July 17, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this info. My story is nearly the same as yours. I was looking for those professionals you recommended.

  7. heather smith December 15, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I also had a vbac with my second and I really struggled to find an ob in the arlington area willing to do a vbac. I felt Richardson and Denton were too far for me, but luckily I found Rachel Zimmer, certified nurse midwife, who works at MacArthur obgyn with offices in euless and Irving. She was a perfect fit for me because she delivers in hospitals and I wasn’t prepared to go au natural and she was totally fine with me getting an epidural. I had a 9lb 14oz baby via vbac, and Rachel was great, I was soooooooooo glad I found her, I couldn’t believe how perfectly everything worked out. I am having my 2nd vbac with her in 4 months and am so happy about it. Thanks for the article, it’s so encouraging to those considering vbacs.

  8. viji August 20, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    I wanted to add that centennial medical center also does vbac. all the docs in their support VBAC if the mother wants to give it a shot. I went to doc Tracey Elliot and she was very good. I was running a high fever and less oxygen supply and posterior baby who dint come for 5 hours , but still the doc was very supportive when i was not at the moment and wanted to have a repeat C, but they were patient and i had a succefull VBAC. I would recomment Dr Tracy Elliot from the Centennial medical center to everyone wants to have a VBAC and also apparently the other doctors from the clinic also do VBAC. Luckily she stayed with me till delivery even though the other doc was on call.

  9. Stephanie September 25, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    thank you for writing this, it’s a gem! I too am on a quest for a VBAC and was pleasantly surprised to see you chose Dr.Lawson, who’s my OB! I am currently on the hunt for a doula with VBAC experience and I’ll be checking out your references!

  10. Sarah February 18, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    Thank you for posting this!! I had an unplanned C section when I was supposed to give birth at a Natural Birthing Center. I met Dr. Lawson the day she performed the C section and love that she was telling me I was an excellent candidate for VBAC before the operation even started!

    I’ve been worried about the second time around, and what the best choice is, and posts like this give me great encouragement. (Especially since you mentioned Dr. Lawson!)

  11. Alexandra July 10, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

    Medical Center of Plano – Dr. Hartley and a few doctors in her practice are willing to let you try for vbac!

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