How to make a VBAC Birth Plan

Do you know the difference between a birth vision and a birth plan? Both are important for VBAC but they have different roles to play.

How to make a VBAC Birth Plan

When a woman is planning a birth it’s a really good idea for her to have a thorough birth plan, this is especially true for a woman planning a VBAC. She should also have a vision of how she would like her birth to play out. Hospitals tend to have quite excessive policies for VBAC, so having a VBAC birth plan is crucial, and having a vision is what gives you a compass.

What is the difference between a birth plan and a birth vision? 
Your birth vision is what you use to create your birth plan. It’s especially helpful to have a vision if you have previously suffered from birth trauma as many VBAC hopefuls have. Having a VBAC birth plan is essential for the VBAC hopeful, but you can’t make one unless you have some idea of how you’d like your birth to play out.

BIRTH VISION: A birth vision is just that. It’s like a photograph of the future. It’s how you imagine your perfect birth will be. In your dream birth, will you be lying on your back waiting for someone to give you a wrapped, wiped clean baby, or will you be in a birth pool? Who would you like there? What will their role be? Who will be the first person to touch your baby, you, your husband / partner or your care provider? Will there be bright lights or will there be candle light?

A birth vision must be acknowledged as just that. A vision. It may or may not come to fruition. You use it to create your birth plan by researching what will and won’t increase the likelihood of your vision coming true.

BIRTH PLAN: Think of a birth plan as a map. Many people tell women not to bother with a birth plan because if things don’t go to plan, you might be upset. Those people have a fundamentally flawed idea of what a birth plan actually does. Any good plan will have a PLAN B. Like a map with different routes. Imagine you live in a place that is prone to flooding. You might have one preferred road, but if it floods, a map will show you the back roads to town. This is how a VBAC birth plan works too, if things take a turn for the worse you KNOW which way to go. If things are fine, you know to stay on course.

A VBAC birth plan isn’t about refusing the interventions you don’t like the sound of, it’s about knowing what makes those interventions necessary, and being confident to ask questions to help you determine the difference between a hospital protocol and a medical necessity all the while balancing that against your own personal preferences.

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So when it comes time to sit down and make your VBAC birth plan, you should first spend some time creating a vision. Your vision might change as your pregnancy progresses, so the sooner you start working on it the better!

When making your plan it helps to know whether the care provider you have chosen and the venue at which you plan to give birth has VBAC supportive policies. You need the specifics. What makes them VBAC friendly? Furthermore, you need to know whether or not births such as the one you envision are common place under the care of your provider and venue or whether they think your birth vision is “only for crackpots”. 

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR POTENTIAL CARE PROVIDER

One of the most important things you can learn on your journey to VBAC is what makes a care provider genuinely supportive of VBAC, what makes them merely tolerant of VBAC,  and what makes them potentially dangerous.

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A VBAC birth plan isn’t really that complicated, it’s hardly any different to planning any other birth. Although there is the well publicised, much hyped risk of uterine rupture, that risk is very low, and lower still if you avoid induction.

If you learn about normal birth you will know all you need to know to plan a VBAC. If you learn about how some care providers treat VBAC differently to normal birth, and what impact that may have on your VBAC, you will set yourself up for success! Some care providers will treat VBAC as if it is high risk but with a 0.5% risk of rupture, we can see that their perspective might actually be the biggest risk. After all, caesareans are major surgery, they are hardly risk free.

There are two opposing quotes that are highly relevant to this discussion:


“Sometimes the only thing that makes your pregnancy  high risk is your choice of care provider”


And

“No one ever sues for the caesarean you did do, only the one you didn’t do”.

And right there we can clearly see how different perspectives can clash in the birthing world. Different people are driven by different things, mothers and doctors have different ideas about how birth should look. What is YOUR belief? Does it match up to the beliefs of your care provider?

WHAT IS OBSTETRIC CULTURE AND WILL IT HINDER YOUR BIRTH PLAN? 

Of course it’s important to remember that each and every birth has the potential to end in a caesarean, but VBAC hopefuls hardly need reminding of that, do they? Generally speaking, just about everyone from your mother to the woman next to you on the bus will be falling over themselves to share their opinion on VBAC – which they had probably never even heard of until now.

So what if you do end up with a CBAC?

One question VBAC hopefuls frequently ask is “How do I prepare for the possibility of a CBAC”. And, like magic, that question is an answer in itself! Preparing for it is acknowledging that it might happen. That’s all there is to it! It might make you fearful, it might make you feel unprepared, but that’s ok. Feeling unprepared and being unprepared aren’t necessarily the same thing. Use the fear to create a solid VBAC birth plan and whatever you do, don’t panic that being afraid can alter the outcome of your birth. Fear can make you choose things that alter your path in a negative way, but it can’t alter biology, no matter what the new age gurus tell you.


Biology controls birth, not mumbo jumbo, and biology is an unstoppable force.

Part of planning VBAC is acknowledging CBAC, and making a solid plan for recovery, through potential birth trauma and grief. If you have a long list of unsupportive people in your life, don’t tell them that you are planning a vaginal birth until afterwards. It lessens the risk of “I told you so” and other rubbish such as “all that matters is a healthy baby” and if you do have your VBAC, it will be even more fun to tell them about it – be sure to have your camera poised and ready!

Be absolutely certain that your care provider and venue for birth can meet the expectations of your birth vision, in the event that everything goes to plan. If your vision for birth is a darkened room with a birth pool, and you being the first person to touch your baby, then going to a hospital where the majority of women give birth on their backs with vagina spotlights, and they only have one birthing tub, probably isn’t going to work. If your idea of hell is a homebirth in water ….. go to hospital, beg for that spotlight. They’re unlikely to refuse that particular request.

The odds are exceptionally good that your body knows how to give birth. Your body has conceived and grown an entire baby from what was once little more than a speck of DNA. Given the right conditions, you can VBAC, so long as you make savvy decisions about who to hire, where to give birth, and what you will and won’t consent to under varying conditions from perfect health, to severe complications. A VBAC birth plan can help keep you and your support team on track, and if things deviate from your birth vision, your VBAC birth plan will help you plot the course, or  at least understand it as best you can. Remember that you are the one in charge, the final decision is always yours, and reach out for support after your birth if you need it. There is no shame in CBAC, and CBAC mums deserve a whole lot more respect that many people afford them!

FURTHER READING

VBAC birth plan - Pregnant woman in brown lacy shirt and jeans at outdoor mountain setting
Planning a VBAC? You need a vision and a map!
License: Creative Commons CC0.

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