VBAC vs. C-Section

October 6, 2015

VBAC vs. C-Section

For those of you who are new here, I had my first baby (Hudson) via a scheduled c-section, and chose to have my second baby (Sadie) vaginally. Today I'm going to share my VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) story with you....so if you are not interested in reading about birth and labor go ahead and click that x and we'll see you tomorrow.

 I shared my reasons for wanting a VBAC here, but to review: a VBAC would be safer for me than surgery, hopefully I would have an easier recovery, and I was a good candidate because my c-section was due to a breech baby and not failure to progress or baby getting stuck. I also had a doctor who was 100% committed and confident in my ability to have a VBAC and I was delivering at a hospital that was capable of monitoring me and making sure I was safe and so was my baby. If you are considering having a VBAC please discuss your options with your doctor.

Okay. I'm just going to say it. I've delivered a baby both via c-section and vaginally and I have to say it sort of makes me feel like super mom. I know that's silly, but I am really proud of myself for doing what I had to do to get those sweet babes here. And every mom should feel that way too, no matter how your baby entered in to the world. I have learned this: There is no fun way to have a baby. This post is in no way meant to judge anyone for their decision. It is simply a comparison of my experiences of having both a vaginal birth and a c-section.

Let's break it down...shall we?

- Contractions are....no fun.  My experience with my first baby was a little different in that I had a scheduled c-section for 11am but my water broke on it's own that morning at 4am. So by the time I got to the hospital I was having mild contractions. But they were nothing compared to the contractions I experienced the second go-around. You can read Sadie's birth story here, but during labor I definitely had a "what was I thinking?" moment. I mean...it was awful. Contractions were coming so fast and hard I couldn't focus on anything but the pain. I started to doubt my decision. Everything during labor felt so foreign and I would have known more what to expect if I was having a repeat c-section. But I'm so glad I stuck to my plan. As soon as I got my epidural I was like "yeah....I can do this. Bring it." Seriously the epidural was a game changer for me. For those of you who have natural births, hats off to you. I couldn't do it. 

- Pushing a baby out made me feel empowered. Everyone was cheering me on and knowing that my baby was literally right there was SO motivating. That feeling was missing from my c-section experience. I still felt proud and excited about having my baby, so don't get me wrong. It's just that there is something about the encouragement from your spouse and everyone in the room while you push a baby out that just makes you feel a sense of accomplishment. And it was much more exciting. I pushed for just under an hour, and honestly it felt like a long time but not that long. Pushing was hard....but adrenaline definitely kicked in.  My epidural was great in that I didn't feel any pain but could feel pressure and knew when to push. It was just such an awesome and empowering experience that I don't feel like I got during my c-section.

- As soon as my epidural wore off, I was up walking around with minimal discomfort. With my c-section I wasn't able to get out of bed until the next day. My husband was in shock this time when I stood up and walked around...and he was so so so happy. With our first baby, he had to do basically all of the baby care, which was overwhelming for a new dad. But with a VBAC I was able to get the baby on my own and didn't feel as helpless.

- I wasn't as heavily medicated. With my c-section I was on all kinds of pain meds and they just made me feel more tired. And itchy....so so so itchy. With a VBAC I took pain meds but they weren't as heavy duty and I definitely noticed a difference in my alertness.

- The trauma to my body was a lot less. I had a 2nd degree tear on my lady bits with my VBAC but it was NOTHING compared to being cut open and then stapled shut with a c-section. It's all a matter of perspective, I'm sure, but for me, it was a lot easier to heal and feel more like myself after the VBAC. With my c-section, it took several weeks to not feel like my incision was going to bust open. I also took my pain meds for 3 weeks straight. But with a vaginal birth I hurt a lot less and healed a lot more quickly.

- I got to leave the hospital earlier. I hated staying in the hospital with both of my babies. I know some people love it, but for me there were constant interruptions by nurses, techs, and staff and I got basically no sleep. With a vaginal birth we got to leave after one night and with a c-section I had to stay two nights.

- There was more after birth bleeding. Every mom knows that after you have a baby you have to deal with postpartum bleeding. When you have a c-section they suction a lot of that blood out for you, so you bleed but it doesn't last as long. With a vaginal birth you have to get all that blood out the old fashioned way. Not fun.

- I was sore. The day after having a baby my butt, arms, neck, and chest were so sore from gripping my legs and pulling my body up into a push position.

- Overall, my mood was better. Once I got home I had to take it easy with a vaginal birth, but I didn't feel as helpless as I did after having a c-section. Walking around or going up and down stairs wasn't as hard after a vaginal birth. 

- Long term recovery was much quicker with a vaginal birth. It took several months to feel like myself after having a c-section. My incision healed but I could still feel it when I would move or if clothing would touch it the wrong way. It's also still slightly numb right over my scar. With a vaginal birth I felt like myself a lot more quickly. But....things were not quite the same down there, if you know what I mean. That took a little bit longer. Ha.

So for me, a vaginal birth was a lot better experience than a c-section. For me, the only good thing about having a c-section was that I didn't have to go through the pain of contractions. With that said, I would pick contractions, labor, and pushing hands down over a c-section.

I also want to note that probably some of my feelings about having a vaginal birth also have a lot to do with the fact that it was my second baby. I wasn't as nervous or scared the second time around because I knew more of what to expect. I think that if I would have had to had a repeat c-section it would have gone a little better than the first time, just for that reason. Knowing what to expect would have made my recovery a little easier too.

I know a lot of you are in my same situation and trying to decide what is best for you and your baby. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions!

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19 Responses to “VBAC vs. C-Section”

  1. This was SO interesting, Julie! How neat for you to have been able to experience BOTH ways to birth!! Reading the "cheering" part during pushing made me long for that, though - I did a vaginal, drug-free birth and baby was in distress when it came time to push so I had super, super stern doctor and nurses almost demanding I had to push baby out rightthisinstant (it's a good thing they were stern and a good thing I listened because baby had a true knot in his umbilical cord and came out blue - so he was a little miracle - but it was not the "you're doing so well" environment I had envisioned). It just goes to show that a safe delivery for mamma and baby is THE most important thing. Thank you for sharing - this was so well written :)

  2. As a woman that is not pregnant yet [waiting probably another year] I found this post extremely interesting. Thanks for laying everything out so easily.

  3. I thought my second c-section would be easier because I didn't have to labor AND push first. But NOPE. It actually sucked more and my recovery was a lot harder! But I wasn't a canidate for a VBAC one single bit. From Lex's birth story to the searing pain that almost made me deliver kenz 3 weeks early because they though my uterus was erupting.

    Having babies is no fun. But they sure are cute. And you sure do forget ;)

  4. Julie this is wonderful to read! Im so glad your VBAC was successful and recover time was quicker! I dont have any csection knowledge but it scares me (hello, major surgery!) so Im thankful for my two vaginal births with epidurals, that wonder drug of goodness :)

  5. I'm so glad that your VBAC experience went so well!! That's amazing!! Part of me thinks I actually could have had one, especially since I was 5cm when I got to the hospital to have Caroline. I did that on my own with minimal discomfort. Haha. So happy your recovery has gone so well!

  6. This is SO great to read. I had a scheduled c-section with my daughter (my first) because she was breech, but would like to try for a VBAC with the second. I really appreciate hearing your experience!

  7. very interesting! I had 2 vaginal births but very different---the first was with forceps and major tearing and the second was unplanned natural birth (no time for epidural.) After those 2 experiences I would vote natural birth- which is crazy, right?! no matter which way- birth is amazing, I think we all agree!

  8. For so long before I had Jack I was all "just cut me open! I'm terrified of the pain!" But, when it came down to it I did not want to have a c-section unless I needed one for medical reasons. As hard and long as labor was & as long as I pushed (1.5 hrs!) I would take that over the recovery time of a c-section, hands down! I did have a harder time than I thought I would bouncing back but, I feel like because I was in labor so long & I had so much pain meds that my body was just extremely worn out. Next time, if things go as they did last time, I'll be more pro-active in speeding up labor lol! Great post though for those mommas considering a VBAC!

  9. This is so fantastic! You are so unique in that you have had both. From my friends who have had c-sections I have heard that the recovery is the worst. I have been really fortunate to have had two natural vaginal births. The first one way worst than the second--3.75 hrs of pushing after reaching 10 cm. EEKS! Second kid- 4 pushes in 6 minutes. The recovery on the lady bits takes time but it gets better. I was seriously peeing myself when I sneezed for 6 months after my first because my pelvic floor was destroyed. But it came back. Not sure if that is what you experiencing but I wish more ladies talked about it!

    Annie- All Things Big and Small

  10. Oh Julie I might just go into a panic attack reading this! Ha! I'm choosing a c-section with baby #2 since my experience with Owen was so rough. I'm still just so nervous about having a surgery and hoping it's easier this time than it was with Owen since I won't have had to go through induction + labor + pushing for 3 hours etc! I'm so glad the second birth was easier for you! :)

  11. I love this post! I have a friend who wants to do a VBAC and I can't wait to send her this post! I had a a vaginal birth with baby #1 and am hoping for the same with #2 next year!

  12. Thank you for this! I had a c-section with my son and am a candidate for a vbac with my 2nd. Part of me is excited because I feel like I missed out on "the way things should have been" with my first. On the other hand, it's almost like it's my first. I have no idea what to expect this time around. Yikes! But this post is so reassuring!

  13. Thank you for this! I had a c-section with my son and am a candidate for a vbac with my 2nd. Part of me is excited because I feel like I missed out on "the way things should have been" with my first. On the other hand, it's almost like it's my first. I have no idea what to expect this time around. Yikes! But this post is so reassuring!

  14. Great post! I had a scheduled c-section with Rhett because he was breech. I was pretty sad about that and asked my doctor about vbac for my next baby before we even scheduled the procedure. I am so hopeful that everything will align properly for a vbac with our next baby. I hated the recovery from the csection!

  15. I had a c-section with my first and plan to have a VBAC with my second in February. This was a great read!

  16. I had 2 c-sections because they were too close together for a vbac (16 months) and my dr said that hes so happy I did because my uterus was very very thinned out by my scar! My second one was a breeze though!! Only took pain meds for 4 days and was up walking 6 hours after surgery. I never had any lingering pains in my stomach and started running 6 weeks later. My first one was awful and I felt like it took me forever to recover. I can't tell if it was the actual c-section or the shock of having a baby to care for lol. So glad to hear your Vbac went well!! I'm glad Drs are encouraging them again

  17. Always amazing to read successful and happy, healthy birth stories.
    I seem to be one of the few exceptions with a c-section delivery - I had an emergency c-section at 37 weeks with my first daughter (due to pre-eclampsia) and another emergency c-section at 34 weeks with my second daughter (due to a rupturing uterus) which I had wanted a vaginal birth for both.

    I was lucky enough to be up and about 5 hours after each, pain meds in hospital only, driving after 2 weeks and back in the gym after 6 weeks and not a problem in the world...

  18. Great info!I I had my first vaginally (with epidural) and I had such a nice go at it that reading your labor story actually made me miss it. I miss labor! So weird - but knowing what to expect the second go around just makes things a smidge easier.

  19. Loved reading this! I had a csection with my twin daughter's 8years ago due to bp issues. They were born 7weeks early and I am expecting my third child in October this year and have been really tossing up bringing up a vbac option to my doctor. I think he will be ok with it assuming my bp and baby is fine. I am very nervous about both options, bc I never felt a contraction with my girls. I had some lower back contractions but nothing really major. I am 25 weeks along and plan to talk to my Dr next week about the vbac option. Thank you for putting it into perspective for us undecided mommas.


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