Do you know that the most common cause of repeat caesarean (either planned or unplanned) is NOT physiological emergencies, genuine medical complications, or women making fully informed decisions to have a repeat caesarean...nope - it's bullshit.
Now - yes I pulled that stat out of my hat (#statfromahat). But in my experience of running the VBAC Australia Support Group for 6 years, this is really quite true.
Yes - sometimes a genuine, non-iatrogenic, medical emergency occurs (such as pre-eclampsia). Yes - sometimes women have genuine medial complications (such as placenta praevia). And yes - sometimes women make completely informed and autonomous decisions to have a planned repeat caesarean for no medical reason (the generally quoted stat on this is that it's less than 3% of all planned caesareans).
But more often than not it's some kind of bullshit that covers our pathway.
I've divided the bullshit into three categories, which we will explore here.
This is the birth politics that so often derail our VBAC journeys. The policies. The lack of access to midwifery care. The lack of access to homebirth. The lack of access to waterbirth. None of this has anything to do with the health of you and your baby. Because policies are NOT based on your health. They are based on...well...often bullshit.
Most policies are not based on research or evidence. They are not based on current best practice. They are based on other guidelines and policies (many of ours refer back to the NICE guidelines) or they are based on consensus opinion - the good ole' "but we've always done it this way and it seems to work out for us".
Dealing with this sort of political crud is hard work. If you find a pile of this crap on your VBAC pathway I highly recommend that you print off a copy of the AMA's position statement on maternal decision making. This document, put out by the Australian Medical Association, is really quite clear about just who is allowed to make decisions for you, your baby, and your birth. And it's not some policy writer sitting in head office. Or the care provider who is reading that policy. It's YOU!
The only way to beat the system is to find your power and start using it.
This category can be split in two. Care provider's individual crap and other random people (family are included as random people - sorry!).
Individual care provider crap that you may encounter includes: the need for dating / sizing/ other random scans. The refusal to induce. The insistence on induction. The insistence on playing the big baby card. Or the insistence on playing the small baby card. It also includes those care providers who play the dead baby card. I know many women who have been told that they must not want a live baby simply because they refused to buy into the systemic bullshit.
Then we have other people's crap. The people who insist on commenting that you are carrying too big, too small, too high, too low , and "are you sure it's not twins" (because that's always hilarious to hear!). Included in here are the people who can't wait to tell you that you "can't" have a VBAC because it's too risky and they know someone who died from it. And then there's the "Dr knows best" crowd.
Other people's bullshit can have a really significant impact on our journey. It can make it harder for us to find the right pathway for us and then get through it safely. They can plant seeds of doubt that don't need to be there and make us question whether we are actually capable of making these decisions.
I recommend that you come up with a lovely ritual to get these people (and their bullshit) out of your head and off your pathway. Write them a letter (you don't have to send it!!) or simply tell them - "I don't need this crap piled on my pathway, thanks". You don't need to let anyone's bullshit cover your pathway - not your OBs, your doula's, your friend's, or your mum's.
Because we generally have enough of our own bullshit to deal with, without dealing with theirs as well.
This bullshit is the hardest to recognise (I can already here many of you going - But I don't have any bullshit and how disrespectful of you to suggest that I do!), but is really common.
The simple fact is that we all bring baggage into our pregnancies. Often it is a collection of cultural conditions, cultural values and beliefs, our personal values and beliefs, our personal philosophies about birth, and our previous experiences.
I'm NOT saying that I think that women are to blame or that we are bad people. Just that some of this stuff we bring with us is bullshit.
The idea that I couldn't possibly labour without pain relief, or that I need to have a hospital birth for my first to "see how I go". The idea that birth is a medical event and always requires a private OB in a private hospital. A belief that because I'm short or skinny I won't be able to give birth to my baby.
Our own bullshit is both the simplest and most difficult to deal with. It's simple because we have so much influence over it. It's hard because self reflection is really bloody hard!! It's hard to look at our past experiences and decisions, recognise that we were, in part, responsible, and then learn from those - without beating ourselves up. It can be hard to show compassion to our previous selves, while also lending power to our future selves. And changing our mindsets and beliefs can take YEARS.
The quickest way to start clearing your own crap is to acknowledge it.
Grab a journal and jot down the answers to these questions:
What did I believe about birth before I was pregnant with my first baby?
Where did those beliefs come from?
Did they serve my higher goal?
Which of these beliefs do I still hold onto?
You can do a "3 words" journaling exercise (where you just use 3 words for each question) or free writing (where you write sentences or paragraphs until you don't feel like writing anymore or until your timer goes off). As you read through you should be able to tell which bits are bullshit and which aren't. And some days it will ALL feel like bullshit and others none of it will. That's okay!!
Sometimes it can be REALLY hard to tell what is bullshit and what isn't. Most of us don't have a great bullshit-meter when it comes to birth. It is such an emotional and vulnerable time. But learning all that you can about birth and your care provider will help. Journaling will help. Talking with others will help.
The bullshit can be shovelled off the pathway, leaving it clear for you to continue on your powerful VBAC journey.
If you would like to enlist the help of your own personal birthy bullshit sorter outerer, please sign up for my VBAC mentoring package. We go through my 10 steps for a powerful VBAC journey (philosophy, people, physiology, psychology, prophesy (stats), politics, preparation, birth plan / presentation, plan B, and post partum) and ensure that no bullshit creeps in to derail your journey. You can email me at email@example.com for more information. Let's clear the crap!
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