3,853,472 babies were born in 2017. Of these births, 32% were born via c-section. However, mothers who go on to have additional pregnancies and wish to have a vaginal delivery (VBAC) are likely to be turned away by medical professionals who fear they'll be prosecuted should something not go to plan. But, refusing to allow mothers the birth they want is impacting both the physical and mental health of mothers-to-be.


 
Good maternal health starts in pregnancy
Maternal health starts as soon as a woman discovers she is pregnant. In some cases this will be a sought after pregnancy, whereas in others, it will be a surprise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 45% of pregnancies are unplanned. This may be due to mistiming or due to the removal of a birth control aid. In cases where complications arise and legal assistance is sought following the removal of an intrauterine birth control device or similar, the first few months of a woman's pregnancy will be consumed with meetings and paperwork, so at this busy time, it's essential that the pregnant woman’s health is supported by only the best medical professionals.
 
Why doctors are saying ‘no'
The World Health Organization recommends that the ideal c-section rate should be no higher than 15%. Therefore, with current rates significantly greater than this, you'd think medical professionals would be keen to encourage mothers to have a VBAC. Although, uncommon, complications can occur during a VBAC. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that there's a less than 1% chance of a C-section scar rupturing during delivery following one previous c-section and a 2% chance following additional c-sections. Despite the numbers being low, Carol Gurney, a former high-risk obstetrician says it's a risk most obstetricians aren't prepared to take. “If you put that in perspective, that’s one or two in 100 women. And that starts to feel very different, in light of the consequences of a ruptured uterus, which can be absolutely devastating for the baby and mother,” she said.
 
The impact to a mother's health
One of the biggest impacts of mothers being pressured into having a c-section is that their maternal health declines. Pediatrician, Valéria Clemente, states that “The care of the mother has to be intensive, not only in prenatal care, but also postpartum. The mother needs to be well, both physically and mentally, to take good care of her child.” But with the typical c-section taking six weeks to heal, those precious first weeks are too often hindered by infections at the wound site or in the lining of the womb.
 
Finding common ground
Medscape surveys reports that 85% of obstetricians and gynecologists have been sued for malpractice at least once, so it's easy to see why they opt to perform c-sections over a VBAC. As a result, women such as Erica Myers are traveling three hours just to seek health care from midwives who support VBAC deliveries. However, before you go hunting for the closest VBAC medical practitioner, speak to your current obstetrician about the risks. It's also worth seeing whether they'll agree to you signing a legal disclaimer so that you can have the birth you want.
 
A VBAC is often sought by expectant mothers, however, an increasing number of medical professionals are refusing such deliveries. But, good maternal health care is essential. Therefore, finding a mutual agreement is the best way to ensure your health and your obstetrician are protected.
Picture Credit: Unsplash

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