Natural Birth Options After Cesarean
After delivering her first child through an unplanned C-section, two years later, Lindsey Frank hoped to deliver her second child naturally. This is referred to as a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean or VBAC.
The U.S. has one of the highest rates of cesarean births with nearly one in three women delivering through C-section. Cesarean operations come with more risks for the mother, which contributes to a maternal mortality rate in the United States that trends upwards while the global rate declines.
Some doctors insist a C-section is the only way a woman can deliver once she's had a cesarean. However, there are growing numbers of women in the U.S. attempting VBACs and seeking alternatives to hospital births in hopes of avoiding another C-section which requires a longer road to recovery.
The World Health Organization determined there is no medical reason for any region to have a cesarean birth rate higher than 15 percent. In Colorado, the C-section rate is 24 percent, making it one of the most common operations in the state.
When necessary, a cesarean can be a life-saving operation. However, operations come with risks, including a greater chance of infection, hemorrhaging, and postpartum depression. Though rare, death is more likely to occur with a C-section than with vaginal delivery.
Both of Lindsey’s pregnancies were low-risk which begs the question, why are doctors taking greater risks with low-risk pregnancy? According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, cesarean rates increase from 13 percent for women paying out of pocket to 27 percent for women with private health insurance.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports the average cost of a vaginal birth in a Colorado hospital is $9,025 compared to $15,755 for a cesarean birth (without complications). Does money determine the course of action in the delivery room?
Meanwhile, there is something to be said about the benefits of minimal intervention during labor and delivery. “Less intervention decreases the chances of cascade intervention,” says Tracy Ryan, director of the Mountain Midwifery Center in Englewood. “Induction leads to more intense contractions, creating the need for an epidural, which can decrease the mother’s blood pressure and stress the baby,” Ryan continues.
Below is the photo story of one woman's successful attempt of a natural birth at home after an unplanned cesarean operation with her first child.