My Own Advocate

Warning: this post is all pregnancy and birth related. I won’t hold it against you if you close your browser and come back next week.

When I was pregnant with Sydney, I researched birth options online and read books and watched documentaries and asked questions and then decided on a natural birth. I hired a doula and prepped and tried for that natural birth, but due to things beyond my control, I ended up with every intervention that I didn’t want – and ultimately had a c-section. Believe me – I’m so incredibly thankful that Sydney was born with no health problems and that we were able to take her home from the hospital as planned. I have friends who weren’t so lucky. They either had a baby in the NICU and worried for days or weeks months or didn’t get to take their baby home at all. So while I didn’t get the birth that I wanted, I got the baby that I wanted and that is really what mattered at the end of it all. We are blessed.

When I found out that I was pregnant this time, the first thing I did was start researching doctors and whether or not they would support my decisions for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I knew it was early and anything could happen, but I didn’t want to start with one doctor and find out later that everything I wanted would be ignored or just not allowed at their practice.

I quickly learned that the doctor who delivered Sydney was at a practice that would not even consider a VBAC. I was pretty sad about that because I really liked him and the other doctors he works with, but I did not want to put myself through another c-section just because I liked him. I found another practice who had “VBAC FRIENDLY” prominently displayed on their website. I had my initial appointment with a great female doctor and felt pretty comfortable, but was bothered by her statement that they’d only ‘let’ me go to 40 weeks. It only got worse when my two subsequent appointments with one of her colleagues were anything but comfortable. Based on his clinical approach to my ultrasounds and just a gut feeling that I got from my interactions with him, I decided to again look elsewhere for an OB.

I sent an SOS text to my doula, Becky, and asked for recommendations for an OB who was truly VBAC friendly. Beckly quickly sent me a referral to a midwife and doctor team practice. I immediately booked an appointment for last week.

I wish I could explain the difference in how I was treated. I met with the midwife and she told me that they make recommendations and that I make decisions. She told me that they’d be comfortable with me going 10 days past my due date and that I was a prime candidate for a successful VBAC. She told me that their VBAC success rate is 80%. I admitted my concerns about the previous practice to her and she confirmed my fear: they were VBAC friendly on paper but not at all supportive of their patients.

My whole point to this post is that it is so important to follow your gut to advocate for your health -whether it is your pregnancy and birth or a suspicious problem for your child. (Anyone watch Grey’s Anatomy a few weeks ago?!) Knowing that I’ll be supported by a team of professionals who have the same plan as me gives me more confidence in my decision. I know that a VBAC isn’t guaranteed but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to try.

Disclaimer: I know that c-sections are a sensitive subject for a lot of moms. I am going to share my own personal experiences and beliefs which does not mean that I do not support my fellow moms who elect to have a c-section for their own personal reasons. Please do not take anything I say as a personal attack against those decisions because each pregnancy and person is different.

Comments

  1. Sometimes you have to follow your gut…be safe and good luck sweetie…found you via networked blogs…following you now!

    Shannon at I Survived and Now I Run

  2. I think it’s an important reminder to everyone about their healthcare. I learned from my mom, who is a nurse, that I am my advocate for health care. I need to stand up for what I want and find a doctor who is willing to work with me, not at me. If I can’t advocate, I’ve slected people in my life who are strong advocates to be my voice.

    I think the days are gone where we sit blindly in that doctor’s office and trust everything that they do and prescribe. We need to be knowledgeable and know how to seek information.

    • I totally agree with your comment and especially your last sentence. I know this isn’t going to come out right no matter how hard I try, so I’m just going to say it. I don’t believe those days are gone when we sit blindly in the doctor’s office…this is proven to me over and over when I hear a friend or relative (or random blog post) talk about setting up an induction or scheduling a c-section or getting an epidural or a myriad of other things *just because* their doctor said so. I’m not talking about medical reasons or anything like that – I’m talking about just following advice without knowing what your options actually are. I wish I could believe that all doctors have their patients’ best interest in mind but I know that is not the case. I’m not saying that all doctors choose convenience or $$ over their patient’s well-being…but my eyes were wide-open during my last pregnancy and I’m thankful to be armed with knowledge and the courage to stand up for myself.

      Sorry, that probably sounds preachy and horrible but I am just flabbergasted by those who don’t do any research on medical advice.

      • I agree! I phrased that incorrectly. I meant to say that those days should be gone. That there are too many doctors who don’t have their patient’s best interest. Not that they mean them harm, but they just don’t do individualized plans. It’s status quo or nothing.

        I learned this this hard way and suffer the consequences of it daily and will for the rest of my life. I try to get others to see that they need to advocate for themselves, even if all that means is googling something BEFORE they are agree to treatment. Or asking friends or family. But don’t go blindly in to anything…

  3. Don’t apologize for doing what you’re comfortable with and also researching. If you just did what you were comfortable with, sans research, you’d be running unnecessary risks. If you just researched, and didn’t act on your own instinct, you’d likewise be doing yourself a disservice. You know you best. Going in with open eyes is best, and you’re ensuring you do that.

    Oh, btw, spitballing here, but I also suspect a lot of the resistance you’re getting/seeing is from liability issues that docs face. Malpractice claims can be devasting on a practice, and some MDs may be skittish about deviating from the “herd” because it’s a potential exposure to liabiility if something goes wrong.

    Anyway, good for you for both knowing what you want, and doing the research you needed to help you reach a position where you were happy and comfortable with it. It’s definitely a two-sided coin.

    • And now, I’ll check out of a blog post about pregnancy and delivery. ;) :P

    • Regarding liability and insurance: I totally agree with you. I’m sure that has everything to do with it. I’m okay with the practices who are up front and say they won’t do it but the ones who act vbac friendly (who aren’t) just make me crazy! Thanks for stopping by! :)

  4. Thanks for being so open and posting this! I too wanted a natural birth and ended up with a c-section due to circumstances beyond my control. I have sort of resigned myself to having a c-section if we have more kids, but I am interested in VBAC if possible too. So I guess I’m on the fence. I’m looking forward to reading more. Best of luck to you for a healthy happy baby! :)

  5. Two things: first off, congrats on your big news. Second and more importantly, do you know what’s a good name? Jack!

  6. If you end up having to have a c-section again, check out the woman-centered technique:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5RIcaK98Yg&feature=player_embedded

  7. As a future doctor, I appreciate that you have taken the time to research your options and have found a healthcare professional that you are comfortable with. As you go on your pregnancy journey please make sure you know what an ideal VBAC candidate is, what are the complications to having a VBAC, and what is the plan for your VBAC delivery.

    I wish you the best of luck

  8. Michele says:

    Not snark, honest question from a 2-time C-section mom (first because of failure to progress after 24 hrs, second elective/scheduled): if a team of OBs who’ve delivered thousands of babies feel a 2nd C is the safer option for both you and baby, why not?

    • No snark taken Michele! If they could point me to valid research that shows a c-section has so much less risk than a vbac then I’d be all ears. I’m guessing that if a a vbac were that risky, no doctor would do it, but many do! :) If I were a high risk patient (or if I become one) then that’s a different story of course…I will do what is safe, just like I did with Sydney. I hope I answered your question.

  9. This post is making me think more about something that has been niggling at me for a while. I really really like our family doctor … but I don’t always feel she is on the same page. For instance last year a test showed I had impared insulin resistance (pre-diabetes) and she basically just said to lose some weight so it didn’t get worse. I had to do my own research, read lots of books and went to some seminars held by the local diabetes association who took pre-diabetes much more seriously. Now that my husband seems to be on the same pre-diabetic path she is very dismissive of that as well.

    I guess liking her isn’t enough. She isn’t my friend, she is my doctor. I’m not just being a hypocondriac (sp?) and I should start looking elsewhere.

  10. You need to always choose what is best for you. What is best for you, is not the best for others and what is best for others is not the best for you. I also think this approach is necessary as a parent. What works for one family is not going for you.

    Good for you for standing your ground

  11. I have babies #3 and #4 with a midwife-physician team. They were both wonderful medically supervised natural births. A perfect balance for those of us that could encounter complications. Congratulations!

  12. Dawn,

    Can you e-mail me the name of this practice? My practice has made some remarks (although they were great for Austin’s delivery) about VBACs that make me think they aren’t really that on board, and I’d like a second option for when we have the next one. I have almost the exact feelings you do on the subject, and since you’re also in NOVA, I’d love your referral. Thank you!

  13. I love this post…especially your disclaimer at the end. As a two c-section mom I always feel like I missed something by not having a “real” birth. That being said I was lucky to have a great doctor who said she would support me either way and spent time explaining exactly what had happened with my son’s birth and we discussed percentages of it happening again and she left it up to me. I went for the c-section but was blessed to have a supportive doctor who laid out the facts for me fairly objectively which I don’t think we always get-we get what is in the dr’s easiest interest

  14. You can do it! I had a successful hospital VBAC last year. The recovery from it does not even begin to compare with the C-section. (I was up and walking within a few hours compared to days later with my C.) I’m pregnant with number 3, and I’m looking into home birth. You can hear some pretty harsh things regardless of your choice (natural birth, home birth, water birth, elective C), but I really think that if you surround yourself with support and arm yourself with knowledge (and pray pray pray), you can succeed and be happy with your choices. Good luck!

  15. Hello! I’m a month behind, but had to pipe up on here and send encouraging vibes, because I had a VBAC after my twins were born c-section and all went well.

    You are right to want a doctor that will fully support you, while also being informative if he/she sees a reason to necessitate another c-section.

    Both of my birthing experiences went well and I’m so glad to hear of a momma who wants to try VBAC. :) I wish you all the best!!

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