Say someone had her vbac without an epidural a week ago .  However, she wanted the epidural at 8 cm (like most in transition do) and didn't get it.  She ended up with a 3rd degree tear/episiotomy and burst blood vessels in her face from pushing, this was after being screamed at to stop pushing because the doctor wasn't there.  And all of this after pitocin was pushed and contractions went through the roof, sometimes with breaks of less than 10 seconds.  This is my nightmare.  But then, so is a c-section.


Is the most important thing in a situation like this to say "yay, successful vbac!" or offer help and resources for what was most likely a traumatic birth experience?  Or both?  I don't know what someone in this situation is likely to really be feeling.  She seems very happy about it--but that's on facebook.  And she's not saying how she's feeling really, just seems thrilled that she did have her vbac.  Is she just afraid to say that she "got what she wanted" (the vbac itself) and it was a horrible experience?


Can someone offer insight to this situation?  


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Vaginal births can be traumatic too, especially if there's trauma to the body or she was treated badly.  My VBAC was quite traumatic, but I STILL think of it as a huge victory because I got what I wanted, which was a vaginal birth.  However, I won't ever birth in a hospital again, and am planning my second VBAC at home in April - THAT's how much I know I cannot handle another hospital birth.  All of your friend's feelings about her experience are valid, and only she knows how she truly feels about what happened.  How she feels may change over time, too.  From what I'm taught as a doula, a woman often needs 6-12 months to fully process her birth experience.  The best you can do is tell her that you're there in case she wants to talk, and in the meantime, respond in the same tone she's speaking with. If she's all "Yay! VBAC!" then you should be too.  If she's all "That sucked so bad," then be there as a sympathetic ear and offer her some resources like Solace for Mothers, or tell her to talk to a professional.

It is hard to know what to say in a situation like this because it is clear this person was yet again abused by the system. I have faced this myself also, recently I had a friend VBAC and ended up with a blue baby and a 11 day NICU stay. It is hard to put on your good face and say, well at least you didn't have another c-section.


Think about what kind of support they wanted after having their first traumatic experience, offer an ear to listen, and the support you would typically offer to anyone who went through something traumatic. It will take time, but eventually though her own healing, she will realize it wasnt the VBAC that was traumatic, it was the way she was treated, and the way her care was managed that was traumatic.

I see this a lot in my ICAN group. Well, not "a lot," but I think that every birth needs processing on some level. For a lot of people it takes months before they are ready to talk about it. It's possible that she feels ecstatic about the VBAC and traumatized at the same time, you know?

I would just tell her congratulations on her VBAC and let her know you would love get together and discuss all the details one day. That may open the door for her to talk about some of the stuff that she may still be processing.

Expectations shape a womans experience.  I went into my homebirth vbac bold and naive.  It was excruciating and the recovery time took much longer than my c-section.  In fact, parts of me will never recovery to the simplicity of my c-section scar.  I ended up with horrible tearing (after having to push out an over 10 lb baby during one contraction due to heart decelerations).  My vagina is like a yodelers dream.  I got stretch marks at week 41... then self-administered castor oil the last day of week 42.  I had excruciating back labor that didnt let up until pushing.  And then I lost so much blood, that I was given pit and cytotek and was on post-partum bedrest for 2+ weeks... oh, until day 2 when my baby spiked a 102 degree fever and my husband and I had to leave our 4 year old with my parents and go to the hospital for three days of unnecessary testing that ended in no results and TONS of medical interventions on my poor infant. 

It does make me feel better when people regale me with stories of the birth and how well I handled it.  We had a lot of people there.  Or when I see the video.  But I cant remember anything in first person.  No memories hardly at all.  But apparently, I was only screaming inside... who knew.  Maybe let your friend know how amazing she is and leave it at that.  I would have traded it for a second c-section, except my husband is still talking about how amazing it was to watch and how proud he is of me.  ;)  That plus all my girlfriends telling me how amazing I am for going all natural sweetens the bitter taste a bit.  Probably wont do it again though.



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