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Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

Many people view the act of giving birth as being just about the baby. But it is not! Childbirth is as much about the new life as it is about you, the mother. Your desires and your wishes do matter. So, if you want to give birth naturally though your previous was a cesarean birth, you have the right to plan and hope for a VBAC.

A c-section can be a lifesaver, but for some people, it can also leave that personal touch out of childbirth. There are many reasons women need surgery to give birth, and none of them are trivial.

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If you had a cesarean but now want to opt for a VBAC, your work is cut out for you! Let us give you all the scoop on VBAC.

Why should you even try for a VBAC?

You had a Cesarean last time, and your baby came out healthy and happy. So, why rock the boat this time around? There are many reasons you and so many other women worldwide contemplate a VBAC. Here are some of the major reasons:

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  • Faster recovery is one of the biggest reasons women opt for VBAC. With a little one at home already and another one about to make their entry into the world, the last thing you need is to hobble around in pain.
  • For many women, a cesarean birth feels impersonal and takes away some of the early chances for bonding with their newborn. If that is how you felt about your previous delivery, VBAC may be right up your alley.
  • Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful aspects of giving birth. But a c-section can make breastfeeding difficult. A VBAC can help you establish an early breastfeeding bond with your newborn.
  • Once a c-section, always a c-section! For a long time now, a cesarean birth marked the end of any possibility of a natural delivery in the future. If you are planning to have more than two kids, remember that each c-section makes the chance of a VBAC dimmer.
  • It may feel irrational to others, but how you want to give birth is entirely your choice. So, a VBAC is a good idea just because you want to experience a natural birth!

What are the risks associated with VBAC that you should know about?

A natural birth may be your dream, but the ultimate aim of childbirth remains a healthy baby and a healthy mother! That is why it is important that you know about all the risks associated with VBAC before you jump on the bandwagon.

  • The biggest reason doctors are wary of encouraging a VBAC is a uterine rupture. If you had a uterine rupture during your previous delivery, you should not even attempt a VBAC this time around – yes, it is that risky. But if you had a relatively healthy, low transverse (bikini) cut cesarean, your chance of getting a uterine rupture is as low as 0.5% to 1% (depending on other health issues).
  • A uterine rupture can cause infection and brain damage to the baby.
  • In some extreme cases, a uterine rupture can also necessitate a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). Remember that a partial hysterectomy does not cause immediate menopause but will leave you infertile.
  • In most cases, the worst that can happen during a VBAC is a failed labor process and an emergency c-section.

What different factors determine the success rate of a VBAC?

You’ve seriously considered the risk factors as they relate to your specific circumstances and still want to opt for VBAC? Good for you! In fact, studies show that a good percentage of women (60% to 80%) go on to have a successful vaginal delivery via VBAC. Some of the factors that determine the success rate of a VBAC attempt include:

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  • Check your previous c-section scar. If you had a low transverse uterine incision last time, you have a good chance of having a successful VBAC. But if you have had more than one c-section, your chances will go down.
  • If your pregnancy is progressing smoothly and none of the factors that led to a cesarean last time exist during your current pregnancy, a vaginal birth is no longer a dream for you.
  • If you go into labor without assistance before or on your due date, you are on track for a VBAC. But if you are already past your due date, the chance of a natural delivery will dip.
  • Another factor that can make VBAC difficult is macrosomia; that is, if your child is larger than usual.
  • According to studies, your age too can play a significant role in VBAC. Younger mothers are more likely to come out of a VBAC successful and without complications. But if you are 35 or above, you are 39% more likely to experience complications and a failed labor trial during VBAC.
  • Your race is also a factor that determines the success rate of a VBAC. White women are more likely to have successful VBACs than women of other races. But the good news is that non-white women are 40% less likely to experience uterine rupture during a VBAC.
  • Obese women are 50% more likely to have a failed VBAC when compared to underweight women.

How can you prepare for a successful VBAC?

If your heart is set for a VBAC, start planning for it. There are things you can do to increase your odds of a successful VBAC.

  • Research, research, and research some more! If you are going for a VBAC, make sure you know the ins and outs of it. You can even take VBAC childbirth classes along with your partner.
  • Talk to your doctor about your wish for a vaginal delivery and discuss your complete medical history with him. Many doctors try to talk women out of a VBAC. But unless there is a good reason, hold your ground. If your health care provider is not supportive of a VBAC, look for someone who is!
  • Look for a hospital that is not just supportive of a VBAC but also has a high success rate in it. The hospital should also be well-equipped to handle any emergency situation.
  • Despite popular belief, your doctor can induce labor during a VBAC. But it will be best if things kick-start naturally. So, allow your body to go into labor naturally.
  • If you are obese, talk to your doctor about the risks while opting for a VBAC. In fact, it will be a great idea to lose some weight before you become pregnant!
  • Eat well and exercise regularly. A healthy pregnancy is surely a plus if you are trying for a VBAC.
  • Most importantly, be ready for a c-section! No matter how perfect everything is moving, the slightest of problems may warrant an emergency cesarean.

“Birth is not only about making a baby. Birth is also about making mothers – strong, capable, competent mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength”. Barbara Katz Rothman

Remember this beautiful quote whenever you find yourself doubting your body. Trust your body and your doctor.

A VBAC can make you feel powerful and strong, reaffirming your inner warrior! But even if you do end up with another cesarean, remember, being a mother itself is a victory. Giving birth is only the first step, you have a whole battle lined up. So, plan a VBAC if it’s right for you but don’t let it take over your life.

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Featured photo credit: VBAC via flickr.com

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Published on January 24, 2020

5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

5 Ways to Improve Your Parenting Skills (Psychology-Backed)

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Parenting is hard. It takes a great deal of effort to be even a decent parent. My husband and I are raising our three children ages 6, 6, and 7.

Yes, I have my hands full. Twin six-year-old boys and a seven-year-old girl keep me on my parenting toes, so to speak. It is not easy, but I do my best to be a good parent. Having a PhD in psychology is helpful, but I still devour plenty of parenting books and research articles to continually try to do better. I am still a work in progress just like all parents.

    It would be great if we knew exactly what to do and how to do it with our kids. But not all kids are the same and they are not born with a manual that provides us with instructions on how to raise them right. However, we do have research on parenting and psychology that can help us out and point us in the right direction.

    Below I have five tips on how to improve your parenting skills starting today! These tips are backed by research. The first step toward being a great parent is knowing how. It is difficult to be a good parent without knowing first and foremost the how and why.

    1. Practice Loving without Conditions

    Loving unconditionally seems like a given that we all assume we are doing as a parent. However, we may have behaviors or words spoken that undermine our ability for our children to feel unconditionally loved.

    For example, asking our child if he wants another mom when he is acting out is not practicing unconditional love. The message that is being sent to the child is that if they act out or misbehave, they are at risk of losing you as a mother, since you ask “do you want another mom” or “do you want to live somewhere else?”

    If you have ever made these statements, it doesn’t mean you are a terrible parent. However, if we want our child to feel loved unconditionally, then we need to stop saying things that make the child feel like the relationship could ever be severed because of their behavior.

    Another way to look at these threats is comparing them to threatening divorce. If you have ever been married, or lived in a home with married parents, then you know that when one person threatens divorce, it cuts to the core.

    Threatening divorce damages the relationship, because trust is lost. The other person begins to feel that that their relationship may not be forever, and that the relationship can be ended because their spouse is threatening divorce. Even if the person threatening doesn’t really mean what they are saying and they truly love their spouse, the words are damaging none the less.

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    The same principles go for parent and child relationships. If a child has been threatened with loss of their current home life, the parent leaving them, or being placed in foster care, then that child does not feel loved unconditionally. They will believe that love from their parent is contingent on their behavior. It is conditional love which means that they are only loved under certain conditions.

    My son Charlie has recently gotten into the habit of saying “I love you Mom” every time that he gets in trouble. He kicked the dog the other day. Not hard, but nevertheless he kicked our family dog. I was fuming. I yelled at him and he was sent to his room for a long time out (I know the yelling was not a good thing to do). I couldn’t even think of a consequence in the heat of the moment so I said “go to your room, I don’t want to see you right now, I will think about your consequence later.”

    He cried, and as he was running up the stairs and he was saying “I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy, I love you Mommy.” Why was he saying that? Because in his six-year-old mind, he is worried that I will stop loving him if he has bad behavior.

    Kids don’t know that we love them unconditionally. They are learning though and we must teach them that we do. My response in this situation and always is to say “I love you too.” I then usually follow it up with “I don’t like your behavior right now, but I will always love you.”

    Kids need to be told that they are loved regardless of their behavior. It needs to be ingrained that they are loved even if they act out, break the rules, or misbehave.

    An article by Elite Daily examined several research studies on unconditional love.[1] The findings from these studies showed that children become more well-adjusted, emotionally healthy, and physically healthy adults when they experience unconditional love in childhood. When children are exposed to conditional love in their parent-child relationship, the research showed that, children have higher levels of anxiety which in turn negatively affects their long-range health, such as heart health.

    Loving unconditionally means loving without conditions. Unconditional love is loving someone just the way that they are, flaws and all. Tell your children that you love them, even when they break the rules, misbehave, or they tell you that they hate you (most kids say this to their parents at some point in time).

    You must always respond with “I love you regardless of your behavior.” It doesn’t mean that you are accepting or allowing the bad behavior. There should always be reasonable consequences to match the behavior. However, they shouldn’t ever be made to feel that the love of their parent can be revoked because of bad behaviors.

    2. Develop a Bond That Will Last a Lifetime by Creating Memories

    You need to spend time with your kids in order to create a bond. Quality time matters, but so does quantity time.

    Kids want to be with their parents. Spend time together as a family. For example, make it a point to have dinner at the kitchen or dining room table at least a few nights a week. Make a rule that no technology is allowed at the table during that time, so that you can talk and spend time together.

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    Before you know it, that child will be grown and out of your home. Take the time to spend meal times together, talking and truly getting to know your child before they leave your home as an adult.

    Barking Up the Wrong Tree looked at research on how to create happy memories that last a lifetime. Some of the things discovered in the research included:[2]

    • Memories are made when our senses and emotions are elevated.
    • If we are pulling out the camera phone, it is likely an elevated experience that you want to remember.
    • Celebrating milestones and praiseworthy moments (graduations, winning seasons, etc.) helps to create positive lasting memories.
    • Struggling together creates a bond. If you have worked through conflict in your relationship and made it better in the process then you have created a bond. Fraternities haze, soldier fight together, and families overcome struggles together. These all make for lasting bonds. When you struggle together as a family, celebrate the success at the end of your victory, once you have overcome the challenge together.

    Take the time to make memories with your children. They are only little once. Go on those vacations, hike to the top of a mountain together, sail across an ocean, go camping, or teach them to ice-skate.

    Do anything and everything that will help create memories, bonds, and experiences that will last a lifetime in their memory. Those memories are what will carry them into old age with happiness in their heart.

    3. Stop the Yelling

    Yelling at our kids is not good parenting. Yet it is still happening on regular basis in most homes. I admit, I am still continually working on this one. I think this quote summarizes the situation.

      However, I know I need to continually work to not yell or raise my voice, as I would prefer a household with zero voices ever raised.

      Yelling causes our children to become anxious. It also affects them emotionally and mentally in a negative manner. If you have ever been yelled at by a boss or superior, you probably remember it and it is not a fond memory. It made you feel bad. It is hard enough to be reprimanded in a calm voice.

      When someone, whether adult or child, is yelled at while being reprimanded it causes anxiety, stress, and negative emotions to abound. When the yelling involves name calling or insults it becomes emotional abuse.

      Heathline Parenthood examined research on the topic of yelling and found that parents who yell at their kids end up with children who are more aggressive verbally and physically.[3] Children learn from their parents’ example. If yelling is a regular occurrence in your household, then your child is learning that when dealing with behavior or situations that they don’t like, it is appropriate to yell. None of us want to teach that to our children, so we must take action to stop the yelling.

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      Healthline provides some tips on how to stop yelling:

      • Know what triggers the yelling. What are the behaviors occurring or situations where you find yourself yelling at your children?
      • When you feel that you are going to yell, give yourself a time out or count to ten.
      • Practice responding in a calm, even tone. Practice makes the action a habit.
      • If you do yell, then admit the mistake and apologize to your child. They will then learn that it is not an acceptable behavior and that they too should apologize if they make a mistake and end up yelling. (Yes, I apologized to Charlie for yelling and he had to apologize to our dog Max.)

      My article about yelling less at your kids less is also helpful: The Only Effective Way to Talk With Children When They Are Acting Out. This article outlines the steps to use the “one-ask” parenting approach. This approach is used to help parents follow up with consequences more quickly so that situations don’t escalate to worse behavior by the children and yelling from the parents. Some tips from this article on talking to your children without yelling include the following.

      • Get on their level, talking face to face in a calm voice.
      • Don’t make repeated threats about a consequence that is coming to them and wait for the situation to become more heated.
      • Follow through with the consequence (i.e. loss of playtime or time-out) immediately after they violate your warning. Don’t wait for them to repeat the bad behavior several more times. One warning is all that is needed. Then, if they break the rule or don’t obey, the consequence should be immediately implemented.

      If you find that your yelling is so entrenched in your daily behaviors that you have a hard time kicking the habit and you need more support, then buy, or find at your local library, the book Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. Their tips were even featured on the Focus on the Family national radio program and were rated as a number one show for 2019. Their gentle parenting methods simply work.

      A quote from the book:

      “Peacemaking moms produce peacemaking kids.”

      Wendy and Amber also have a Facebook group that is free to join. It is Gentle Parenting with Amber and Wendy. In this group, you will find thousands of other parents looking for support to yell less in their homes. Check out the group if you want more connected support to stop yelling at your kids. I am a member of this group too. Nobody is perfect, but we can do better as parents by yelling less starting today.

      4. Provide Experiences Over Toys

      Toys are fun. But our kids don’t need an excess of overcomplicated, electronic, and expensive toys in order to be happy or develop in a healthy manner. Focusing on experiences over toys is a way to improve as a parent now.

      The next holiday or birthday that comes up, think about gifting your child an experience, for example, a year membership to the children’s museum or zoo. Another experience is a trip to someplace interesting such as a National Park. These experiences help to create memories. They also help to make your child a more well rounded individual as they are out in the world experiencing activities rather than sitting in their room playing the newest video game.

      Motherly posted a recent article that delved into the science that experiences are better for our kids than toys. Here is a quote from that article that is worth noting.[4]

      And if we need one more reason to cool it on the toy giving, researchers have discovered that gratitude and generosity increase when experiences are given instead of objects. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, conducted many studies over many decades and found that happiness is derived from experiences, not things. Bottom line: The happiness derived from a childhood experience is far more significant than the fleeting excitement of toys under the Christmas tree. Giving experiences that involve spending time together instead of gifting toys brings greater and longer-lasting joy. Don’t stress about the number of toys, mama. Focus on making memories.

      Creating family experiences and making memories go hand-in-hand. Our money and resources get more bang for their buck when they are used on experiences for the family instead of things. The research from the Motherly article shows that families are happier overall when they have more experiences together and less toys.

      5. Let Them Play and Be a Child

      Play and childhood development go hand-in-hand. However, the amount of playtime our children are getting has been diminishing in recent decades.

      We are so intent on our children learning, that we take away from their playtime. Play is learning. We need to get our children back to basic playtime so they can develop and learn in a natural way.

      Increase their playtime and limit the electronics. Research by Very Well Family found that too much technology is damaging to our children.[5] When children get too much time on electronic devices, their research found that children have sleep issues, obesity, behavior problems, academic problems, and emotional issues. Limit your children’s time on technology.

      According to We Can, we need to aim for less than two of screen time per day for our school aged children. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends far less time for children under the age of five. We Can offers a free screen time chart so you can track your child’s time on digital devices.

      The goal is to get children playing and off the technology. Playing will help them developmentally. In my book Let Them Play, I explain the importance of play and provide 100 child developmental play activities. Some great play activities that promote development and learning that are listed in the book including Play Doh, magnet blocks, Legos, puppet shows, and hopscotch.

      Parents can teach their children different play activities while they actively play with their children. Fifteen or twenty minutes of playtime together can help to create bonding time between parent and child. Then the parent can allow their children to continue playing the activity on their own. This play time is crucial to the child’s healthy social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development.

      They are only little once. Let them be a child when they are little. Two-year-old children aren’t meant to sit at desks for hours completing school work. They were made to play, explore, and be active physically. This is how they learn and develop best.

      Final Thoughts

      These are not the only ways to improve as a parent. However, these are five ways that you can begin improving as a parent starting today.

      Nobody is a perfect parent, which means we all have room for improvement. Look at your own parenting methods objectively and decide where you can improve. Then do something about it.

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      Featured photo credit: Jonathan Daniels via unsplash.com

      Reference

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