Skip to Content

10 Proven Tips for a Successful VBAC | Mother Rising

Discover the best tips for a successful VBAC! Are you a pregnant woman who has previously undergone a cesarean section and is now considering having a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)? Making the decision to have a VBAC can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, as it brings the possibility of experiencing childbirth in a different way.

However, preparing for a successful VBAC requires careful planning and understanding of the risks involved. In this article, we will explore some valuable tips that can help increase your chances of achieving a successful VBAC and ensure a positive birthing experience for you and your baby.

10 Proven Tips for a Successful VBAC

The following are my best tips for how to have a successful tolac (trial of labor after cesarean) for a successful VBAC. Here we go!

Read the Best VBAC Books

The first of 10 tips for a successful VBAC birth is to start reading the best VBAC books. After reading these books you will…

  • feel more confident and relaxed about your upcoming birth
  • gain the tools needed to navigate the VBAC terrain

Check out my post about the best VBAC books!

Optimize Your Health Before Pregnancy

Prepare your body for a successful VBAC by maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and managing any existing medical conditions.

Take a Quality Childbirth Class

The second of 10 tips for a successful VBAC is to pursue quality childbirth education. Educate yourself about VBAC: Learn everything you can about vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), including the risks, benefits, and success rates. Attend childbirth education classes specifically designed for VBAC.

If you cannot find a quality childbirth class in your area, don’t waste your money. (I teach Birthing From Within and find that my classes are PERFECT for someone planning a VBAC.) Email a few local doulas and pick their brain about the classes in your area. Doulas are a great resource for more than just births!

Hire an Excellent Care Provider

Next on the list of tips for a successful VBAC is to choose a supportive healthcare provider. Find an obstetrician or midwife who is experienced in supporting VBACs and has a positive attitude towards them. Discuss your desires and concerns with them to ensure they are on board with your birth plan.

Qualities of a good OBGYN may include:

  • A good listener
  • Natural birth advocate
  • Appreciative of doulas and other birth companions
  • Patient
  • Follows ACOG guidelines and other evidence based practices regarding VBAC and uterine rupture
  • Backup physicians align with the same philosophy
  • Other women in the community using the same OBGYN have had successful VBACs

Not sure how to find a supportive care provider? Check out my post about how to get the dirty details on your OB.

Be Willing to Switch Care Providers

Ideally, all women have a supportive care provider. Of course, just as there is no perfect mother, woman or family, there are no perfect care providers. Some personality traits can be easily overlooked, but sometimes instead of trying to change a care provider to align with a certain way of thinking, it’s simpler to switch care providers.

Here is one story of how a woman listened to her gut and switched care providers late in her third trimester.

Master the Art of B.R.A.I.N.

One of the most empowering tools expectant parents can learn is the acronym B.R.A.I.N. By learning and applying B.R.A.I.N., parents will learn how to navigate the patient/care provider relationship, gather information and make decisions with their care providers.

Research has shown that the more a woman is part of the decision-making process during birth, she will be happier about the outcome, no matter what happens.

“It is also suggested that active involvement of pregnant woman in decision-making process for the delivery method will increase the rate of vaginal birth after c-section and decrease c-section rate and improve the degree of maternal satisfaction after delivery.”

Plain and simple, if a woman is ignored she will be unhappy about her experience giving birth, which can have long lasting consequences in the way she mothers, her self-esteem and future pregnancies (among other things).

Plan for a Natural Birth

Next in the series of tips for a successful VBAC, and in my opinion one of the most important, is to plan for a natural, unmedicated birth. In my experience when drugs, epidurals, pitocin, etc., are used, the more likely a cesarean birth is to happen.

If this is something you would previously have not considered, start doing some research! One idea is to watch really good birth documentaries like the The Business of Being Born. Many women have found that film to be encouraging and motivational to have an unmedicated birth.

Read good pregnancy books and other articles about how to develop a mindset for unmedicated birth. You can do it!

Build a Strong Support System, Hire a Doula

Surround yourself with people who believe in your ability to have a successful VBAC and will provide emotional support throughout the process. Consider hiring a doula who specializes in supporting women during VBACs. A birth doula can be an invaluable asset when planning a VBAC. A doula can help

  • relieve fears during pregnancy and birth
  • prepare for and achieve a natural birth
  • provide and sift through information
  • navigate any confusion when signs of labor start
  • determine when to go to the hospital for labor
  • keep a level head while navigating the ups and downs of a VBAC and
  • so much more!

Do a google search, find a handful of doulas and interview each one to get a sense of what a doula can do for you.

Clearly outline your preferences for labor and delivery in writing so that everyone involved is aware of your goals and preferences. Include details such as pain management options, monitoring preferences, movement during labor, etc.

TOLAC Tips for VBAC

Tips for a Successful VBAC birthing woman working through a tolac (trial of labor after cesarean) leaning on a hospital bed during a contraction with her partner's support with a supportive care provider

Stay Active During Labor

Movement can help facilitate progress during labor. Change positions frequently – walk around if possible or use birthing aids like exercise birth balls, peanut balls, the CUB (continuous upright birthing stool) or squat bars to help open up the pelvis.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

  • Use various relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, visualization, meditation, or listening to calming music to help manage pain and reduce anxiety during labor.
  • Create a calm birthing environment by dimming lights, using aromatherapy, or bringing personal items from home that make you feel relaxed and comfortable.
  • Utilize water therapy such as taking showers or soaking in warm baths to ease labor pains and promote relaxation during contractions.

Labor at Home as Long as Possible

Laboring at home as long as possible before heading to the hospital when attempting a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) is another one of many great tips for a successful VBAC. This may seem like odd advice, however, even my local hospital midwives tell their patients that “their best bet for a successful VBAC is to show up at 39 weeks ready to push”.

VBAC patients are monitored more closely and therefore have more opportunity for interventions, which unfortunately increases the possibility of other complications (this is called the cascade of interventions). For example, many care providers require constant internal fetal monitoring during a VBAC. Sounds reasonable, right?

Well… with constant internal fetal monitoring comes breaking the water (amniotic sac) and laboring in bed. By doing these two interventions the risk of infection has increased and also the need for an epidural (because her range of pain coping has decreased by limiting her movement).

Therefore, under the careful guidance of a trusted care provider, know how far apart contractions should be before going to the hospital and labor at home as long as possible is a key component to achieving a VBAC.

Prepare for a Cesarean Without Expecting One

As you very well may know, most women who give birth by cesarean do not plan to give birth by cesarean. To say they were caught off guard is an understatement.

A necessary part of planning for a VBAC is to also prepare for a cesarean without expecting one.

Since you’ve already had a cesarean, I’m sure you have opinions about what went well and what didn’t. What you liked and didn’t like. What you would repeat and what you would never, ever do again. Use that experience and channel it into something productive like creating a cesarean birth plan.

If for whatever reason your next best thing becomes a repeat cesarean, it is best to be prepared and know what you want so you can help create a better birth experience for you, your baby and family.

Check out my post on How to Prepare for a Cesarean Without Expecting One.

Work Through Birth Fears and Trauma

Previously, I mentioned creating a cesarean birth plan as one of my tips for a successful VBAC. Did that idea evoke anxiety, fear, dread or other uncomfortable feelings? If so, you likely have a few birth fears, which is expected and normal.

In fact, if I meet a woman that is pregnant and DOES NOT have birth fears, that worries me even more. It is important to acknowledge and deal with birth fears so that you and your baby are not living in a constant state of fear, but instead can approach birth with a determined spirit, ready for whatever comes your way.

Along side fears, it’s important for women pursuing a vaginal birth after cesarean to work through the trauma of their previous birth to prepare for this new baby, this new birth. Again, working through fear and trauma, despite it likely being the most unpopular vbac tip on here, 100% prepares women for her upcoming birth.

Lastly, surround yourself with positive VBAC birth stories and birth affirmations to boost confidence in your body’s ability to birth naturally after cesarean.

10 Proven Tips for a Successful VBAC

To recap, here are the 10 proven tips for a successful VBAC.

  1. Read the Best VBAC Books
  2. Take a Quality Childbirth Class
  3. Hire an Excellent Care Provider and Be Willing to Switch Care Providers
  4. Optimize Your Health Before Pregnancy
  5. Master the Art of B.R.A.I.N.
  6. Plan for a Natural Birth
  7. Build a Strong Support System and Hire a Doula
  8. Labor at Home as Long as Possible
  9. Prepare for a Cesarean Without Expecting One
  10. Work Through Birth Fears and Trauma

In conclusion, a successful VBAC requires careful planning, support from healthcare professionals and loved ones, and a positive mindset. By understanding the risks and benefits of VBAC, choosing the right healthcare provider and birthing location, practicing relaxation techniques, and being open to alternative pain management methods, women can increase their chances of having a safe and successful vaginal birth after cesarean. Ultimately, every woman deserves the opportunity to have the birth experience she desires, and with proper preparation and support, a successful VBAC is within reach.

What Are Your Tips for a Successful VBAC?

How are you preparing for a VBAC? What worked for you? Leave me a comment and let me know your best VBAC tips. Thanks!

prisca

Monday 8th of July 2019

I ve had 2c sections am hoping for a vbacs I need adviser

mercy

Friday 3rd of August 2018

I had my first child by cesarean 5 month ago, unfortunately lost my baby at birth now I discovered am pregnant , probably 2 weeks old.....pls is vbac possible? am scared.

Lindsey

Tuesday 7th of August 2018

I would speak with your care provider and a local ICAN chapter for the best, personalized advice you can get. I hope that helps!

mercy

Friday 3rd of August 2018

I had my first child by cesarean 5 month ago, unfortunately lost my baby at birth now I discovered am pregnant , probably 2 weeks old.....pls is vbac possible? am scared...really don't want c section ever again

Gladys

Sunday 8th of July 2018

This article really encourages me a lot, am relieved I think, God bless u

Laci

Thursday 14th of June 2018

I’ve had two ceseareans- one single birth, one twin birth. My twins are now 4 years old and my current OBGYN kind of shook her head when I asked if I was a good candidate for VBAC. But I still feel like I could, I don’t know!

Mpume

Tuesday 31st of July 2018

I olso wonder ifif im a good candidaye for vbac as I had 2 c-section. But im confident I can make it!.

Lindsey

Thursday 14th of June 2018

It never hurts to get a second opinion. Also, go to an ICAN meeting! :)