Friday, November 13, 2015

My CBAC series on Science and Sensibility

This month, we are talking about Cesarean Birth After Cesarean, or CBAC.

CBAC is the preferred term for when a mother works for and wants a VBAC but ends up with another cesarean. Medical researchers usually call this a "failed" VBAC or a "failed trial of labor after cesarean" but this terminology is insensitive. Women who did not get a VBAC are not failures. The reality of birth is much grayer than a black-or-white, success-or-failure binary equation.

I had a CBAC with my second child, as I wrote about on this blog last week. Although I did go on to have two VBACs afterwards, the CBAC experience left a strong imprint on my soul, and pointed out to me the need to improve our emotional support for women who experience one.

In honor of this topic, I wrote a 3-part series on Supporting Women When VBAC Doesn't Happen, and it was published over on the childbirth blog, Science and Sensibility. The different posts include:
  • Part One: A Unique Grief - discusses how a CBAC is not the same as a primary cesarean or a planned repeat cesarean that was gladly chosen, as well as the vacuum of support that many CBAC mothers experience from care providers, friends and family, and the birth community 
  • Part Two: The Forgotten Mothers - discusses how CBAC mothers are largely ignored in medical research, reviews what little research there is on CBAC, and discusses what we can learn from it and from CBAC mothers' experiences
  • Part Three: Supporting CBAC Mothers - discusses concrete suggestions on how birth professionals and friends/family can support CBAC mothers

There is also a new brochure on CBAC that I helped write for the International Cesarean Awareness Network. This gives birth professionals something concrete to give to new CBAC mothers. (There are other ideas for supporting CBAC mothers available in Part 3 of the Science and Sensibility series linked above.)

In addition, I helped write a new CBAC support website, using materials brainstormed by CBAC moms for a workshop I did at an ICAN conference.

I am also offering two webinars on CBAC for ICAN this month (they will be listed with ICAN once they have been recorded; members can access them afterwards). One is for folks in the birth field to learn how to support CBAC women more effectively, and the other is for CBAC mothers themselves.

When I had my CBAC so many years ago, there was a real dearth of information on supporting CBAC mothers. No one knew how to help, and I got precious little support. Eventually we built a community of CBAC moms who helped each other. Together we brainstormed what kind of support was and was not helpful. We built the support network that we needed. It didn't take the pain and disappointment away of course, but it helped ease the process of coming to terms with it.

Far too often, there is still a dearth of support for CBAC mothers because few people know what support resources exist. My hope is that this Science and Sensibility series, the new brochure, the new website, and the webinars can help fill in gap, along with ICAN's Facebook support page.

But this shouldn't be the end of it. We need to continue to dialogue on what's needed to improve support for CBAC moms. However, that dialogue won't happen if other folks in the birth community are not aware of these concerns or have no concrete ideas on how to help.

So please, go check out the series and "like" or "share" it on Facebook and other social media. Make sure that people in the birth field, whether care providers, doulas, advocates, or moms themselves, have access to the message about improving support for CBAC moms.

Let's make sure that women who don't get a VBAC know that they are not alone and that all the work they put in their pregnancy and towards their birth still counts. ALL women deserve support; let's raise awareness of the needs of CBAC mothers and reach out to them with kindness and empathy as they work towards emotionally processing the experience and integrating it into their lives. 

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