More and more we are hearing about women being “denied” a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) by their OBs, Midwives, or local hospitals. Here is some information that can help you get the birth you want and deserve:
#1- VBACS ARE NOT ILLEGAL! Anyone who tells you this is lying (or grossly misinformed.) Period.
#2- Any hospital that accepts Medicaid or Medicare that states they have a “VBAC BAN” is in direct violation of federal code 42CFR482.13 which states that any hospital that is federally funded can lose funding if they deny care and can lose all funding if a complaint is received.
#3- EMTALA, Federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, also known as COBRA or the Patient Anti-Dumping Law. EMTALA requires most hospitals to provide an examination and needed stabilizing treatment, without consideration of insurance coverage or ability to pay, when a patient presents to an emergency room for attention.
This means hospitals HAVE to take you if you show up in labor. If you have been denied a VBAC by a hospital or know of a hospital with a ban you can call EMTALA at (404)562-7500 to report them. You can also contact http://www.medlaw.com if you have been threatened by a hospital for court ordered cesarean, told a hospital has a VBAC ban, or dropped from a providers care within 30 days of your due date or while you were in labor.
#4- Check out birthaction.org, specifically your state’s resource page on where you can file other complaints. Also check out Birth After Cesarean for lots of other specific info on how to get your VBAC.
And last but most importantly!
#5- Contact a local home birth midwife! Even if you think “you could never have a home birth”, or “home birth is too scary!” it can be an eye opening moment when you sit down for a consultation with someone who protects normal, natural birth. It gives you a chance to ask any and all questions you may have, understand how birth at home works, and provides you with an opportunity to see that not all midwives are long skirted, patchouli smelling, hand-it-to-the-man-ers(although we love those kinds too!!!) and are trained in handling low-risk birth outside of the hospital setting.
“It’s not your birth.” This is a phrase I hear quite frequently from other birth professionals. Whether they are childbirth educators, doulas, or midwives. That statement seems to be an automatic reply in the birth community when a women chooses something that we know, on a professional level, is an unhealthy choice. Whether it be birthing in a hospital, allowing interventions, or choosing not to breastfeed. Are we, as a birth community, standing idly by while mother’s make uneducated choices because it is politically correct?
As a doula, I feel it is my duty to educate women on the options they have regarding their birth. With my daughter I desperately needed someone to educate me. I needed someone to say that the hospital is not the place for a healthy woman to give birth. Someone to explain that out of hospital births are just as safe, if not safer, as hospital births. I wish someone would have told me my choices were not the best. I wish someone would have been brutally honest with me. Sure, it was MY BIRTH…but doesn’t every mom want what is best for themselves and their babies? Don’t we all as mothers want to give our children the best start possible?
I understand a natural, intervention free homebirth is not the right choice for every woman. However, shouldn’t we encourage all women to do their research on what is the best birth? Shouldn’t we be providing them with good information and not leaving them at the hands of a Google search? Midwives, you should be shouting about your good outcomes from the rooftops! Doulas, tell every pregnant woman you meet about what you have to offer! Give them the numbers, the facts, book recommendations. Childbirth Educators, give women the truth. They have come to you because they WANT to learn. They need to know what really lies ahead for them at the hospital if they choose to birth there. They need to know that interventions during pregnancy are not always necessary. They need to know what to expect out of a homebirth. Lets teach women that it is their body and their choice to birth however they choose.
I will say, that if after we all do our jobs to adequately inform parents, that it is ultimately their choice to choose what is their best birth. Like many other things, we take all of the information we have acquired and apply it how we feel is appropriate in our lives. At the end of a woman’s journey into motherhood she should be able to say, “I made the best educated choice for myself and my family, and I do not regret anything about it.”
We, as a community, need to stop making the excuse of “its not your birth” and start reaching out and sharing valuable information with childbearing women. No, It is not my birth…but it is my job as a fellow human being to stand up for what I believe in, what my quest for information has taught me. It is my job to make sure there is never another woman who crosses my path who will end up with a traumatic birth experience because she simply did not know any better.