Today, I can honestly say that I'm seeing families allowed more autonomy in their choices. Changes are evident. Of course, there's always room for more improvement, and something that's been on my heart that needs change is access to VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) for moms in the Abilene area.
Almost weekly, I hear from a mother who is doing some heavy research because she just wants to avoid another cesarean - if possible. The options for VBAC in Abilene limited. Very few providers in our community will support a moms choice for vaginal birth after she's had one cesarean, and almost no one will offer support if the mother has had MORE than one cesarean. Some moms choose homebirth as their best option. Even though I personally loved my homebirth (and fully believe that it prevented an unnecessary c-section in my case), I know that it is not the right fit for every mother.
So, what are families to do when they feel they have run out of options in Abilene? Well, more of them are traveling longer distances to get the care that they want. It is not uncommon for Abilene women to travel to the DFW area to get the best shot at a safe VBAC, or a Family Centered Cesarean if a repeat c-section becomes needed.
As a Birth Boot Camp DOULA, I have built some pretty great relationships with birth workers both near and far. Today, my friend Sydney Williamson is joining us on the blog to provide information about VBAC birthing options for women in Abilene who are considering making the trip out of town to give birth. She is a doula in the Dallas Fort Worth area and is also a VBAC mom herself.
I wanted to become a doula after I was in a rut pursuing a nursing degree, I wanted to be an L&D nurse but something wasn't fitting. I wanted to connect more with families and support them to reach their goals, especially through pregnancy and postpartum. So I took some time off, then got pregnant with my first baby, had a cesarean, and stepped away from anything birth related for a bit to heal from my cesarean. I supported the births of friends, and the doula spark was in there. When I became pregnant again and realized what I was up against planning to give birth after a cesarean, the fire was ignited and I knew my career would be supporting families to reach their goals in birth and parenthood.
Grace OBGYN & Midwifery (gracebirth.com) catches babies at Texas Health Harris Southwest hospital, and they're amazing. They have an office at Texas Health Resources Willow Park, so that's even a bit closer for all the office appointments, families would just be driving in to Fort Worth for the birth.
Speaking of family centered cesareans, both of these hospitals really strive to practice family centered care, so if plans change they still provide a respectful and compassionate birth experience for families. They support delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, breastfeeding, and lots more that families look for. They also have nitrous oxide which is a fantastic option for pain management!
There are also licensed certified professional midwives (CPMs) in Dallas Fort Worth who support VBAC, one of my favorites is Michele Massey at Gentle Beginnings in Hurst, about another 20 minutes from downtown Fort Worth. The postpartum stay at a birth center is shorter than a hospital delivery, so that's something to consider as well.
What if a mother has had multiple cesareans?
Within DFW some women travel an hour plus to get to their birth place, and I commonly hear of families checking into an inexpensive hotel near the hospital in labor. That could be an option. There's a network of moms and moms groups that I could help an Abilene mom reach out to, and I think lots of local women would want to support another mom in her goal for a VBAC, if they could help by offering childcare I think they would! There's also the option of hiring a "sibling doula" or sitter/nanny for the birth.
Again, I think families have to weigh their goals against their options, and decide what their priorities are and what compromises they'll make. If VBAC is a big priority and they don't have options near them, Fort Worth is an awesome place to have a baby.