Fear connected to a VBAC is not uncommon. As a father-to-be it’s easy to feel totally out of control when your wife wants to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after a previous c/s section) and there were REAL medical reasons for the previous surgical birth. Birth is so unknown and death based on personal decisions feels overwhelming. We’re fortunate. We live in modern societies with very sophisticated medical care. In some ways we actually have come to believe ‘nothing bad should happen’.
As hard as it is, you must face the death of your partner and your children as well as friends and relatives no matter how they die … and death is not always the worse that can happen.
If you feel totally panicked then you need to do some research. Here are some things you need to look at:
- Is there anything wrong with your partner or baby’s health right now?
- What occurred last time that threatened your baby’s life? And how was the problem assessed?
- What is the likelihood that there will be a problem next time compared to any other problem that could cause death or injury at other times of Life? In other words, will you feel the same if something happens during the birth or any other time?
The last question is the most important.
Truth in statistics
Statistics will tell you that your child or partner is much more likely to die at any other time than being born or giving birth. Dying in birth is about 57 out of 60 common causes of death as defined in the Center of Disease Control. Try listing common causes of death. Most people can’t name more than 15 or 20. This means dying at birth is very infrequent in modern societies. Yet in our cells we know childbirth can be risky. We also know that women around the world die in childbirth where there is no medical care. Emotionally changing our anxiety is very, very challenging because we just focus on birth because it’s so unknown. There is no way to know how any birth will unfold.
Fear as a Gift
Sadly the natural birth movement and many famous childbirth authors repeat over and over again that ‘pregnancy and childbirth are normal and life events’ (Yes, that’s true). However, many pregnant women can bring minor or major health issues into pregnancy, others can develop during pregnancy or birth. And your baby can have health issues that will impact your partner’s birth.
It’s ok to be afraid in pregnancy. In fact, humans are hardwired to have fear in pregnancy and birth so they will be hyper-vigilant. A baby can’t talk so mothers and fathers must learn to read non-verbal messages. You have to learn whether your baby is having a major problem, could have one or probably isn’t going to have a problem. Maturing your awareness so you can discern the difference between emergency, watch or fine is important.
Do that now. If you are afraid of your pregnant partner’s desire to have a VBAC after a previous Caesarean then ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a major problem with your baby or partner right this second or in 5 minutes? You can ask that question heaps. Seek help if you feel there is a major problem.
- Do you believe a major problem is about to happen? You can ask that question heaps as well. Seek help if you feel there is a major problem.
- Do you just feel anxious? If so honor that anxiety and just remain watchful
Keep in mind that how your birthing partner behaves and copes will color that anxiety. If she is coping well and everything with your baby seems fine then you won’t be as anxious. If she looks and sounds overwhelm then you are much more likely to be anxious and concerned. This is why it’s so essential both of you have great birth and birth-coaching skills.
Seeking a VBAC
There are several options you and your pregnant partner might choose:
- Your partner can choose (or feel pressured) to have a non-laboring Cesarean.
- You can choose to do a trial of labor and see how things go.
Whichever way you resolve your fear, try to take it down a notch into ‘anxiety’. Then live every moment asking ‘is there a problem right now?’ If not then calm your anxiety.
Your very, very best approach to your fear of a VBAC is to become a skilled coaching dad. With skills you’ll be able to work on a moment to moment basis with what is happening right now. This will permit you to meet any challenges that might arise. Birth is safe and birth is unsafe … so is Life.
You can also learn more as an expectant father.