So much came from this conference this week, so I wanted to share a ton of links that may be helpful for those who were not able to participate.
If you were not able to watch the coverage, you can use these links for viewing of what took place.
Day One of the National Institute of Health’s VBAC Conference
Day Two of the National Institute of Health’s VBAC Conference
Day Three of the National Institute of Health’s VBAC Conference
All three links are video feeds.
In the aftermath of this conference, there are an incredible amount of articles not only addressing the rising cesarean rates, increasing maternal mortality rates, and lack of VBAC access, but human rights issues that the panel at NIH did not address in their statement.
So, because I have been a media junkie the past couple days, I started tracking all the links.
United States urged to confront shocking maternal mortality rates
Too Many Women Dying in US While Having Babies
Doctors Debate C-Section Options
Deadly Delivery by Amnesty International
Women Struggle to Avoid C-Sections
Panel Urges more Choice in Birth after Cesareans
Too Many Preventable Deaths Among New Moms
Group Urges New Rules for Vaginal Birth after Cesarean
Panel Urges new Look at Cesarean Guidelines
NIH Panel : End Bans on Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Underused
Panel : Vaginal Birth after Cesarean not too common
Panel : Women Need a Chance to avoid repeat C-section
Are C-Sections too common?
As more stories come out, I will continue to include the links!
I saw down and listened, read, and watched the question and answer session for the draft statement by the panelist who read it, as well as the audience who was able to add their input. One surprise I found was the President of ACOG who had been at the conference all along finally got up to make a comment, of course only after ACOG was called out in this statement’s conclusion.
I am glad that on several occasions through the document they discuss the NON medical factors that are influencing VBAC today.
I would also like to point out that I enjoy their final statement in the end which includes asking ACOG to reconsider their recommendation of VBAC and the “immediate” wording.
I really wanted to pick this all apart much more, but I am going to wait for the final draft for that.
I encourage everyone to read the draft, and submit comments in the next short couple hours to have your voice heard and suggestions looked at!
The National Institute of Health’s VBAC Draft statement is now available to the public.
You can read it at
Please read, and leave comments, they will only be taking comments for a short period of time today!
While the day was much shorter, I found it had a much more personal level of it as speaker Rita Rubin took on the stories of women around the country who have been victims of VBAC bans, lack of evidence based medicine surrounding VBAC, and women being forced to take matters into their own hands with out of hospital and sometimes unassisted births.
It certainly gave the speakers a much more personal feel and put names and faces to women struggling with this.
But I will get to that later in my post.
The day started with information on epidural anesthesia, as well as the lack of available anesthesiologists nationally to fill the need of the “immediate emergency care/delivery” guideline. I learned a lot about the national crisis surrounding available anesthesiologists.
All in all, having in house anesthesia specifically, and only for Obstetrics, or VBAC is completely unrealistic. Not only that, but one thing that caught my attention of this speaker was the comment that “We need to remove lawyers and insurance companies from this choice” meaning the choice of VBAC vs. elective repeat cesarean delivery.
There was a suggestion at one point that VBAC only be “allowed” at hospitals that have at least 1500 births per year, but unfortunately like the 24 hour anesthesiologist coverage just for VBAC it is simply unrealistic. There are areas of our country that women have a 3 hour drive, or even longer to a hospital of that kind of caliber.
In the end, ACOG blames the OB’s, the OB’s blame the hospitals, the hospitals blame the women… and it is a giant blame game.
We need to stop playing the blame game, and we need to make this an available option for all women, while using the real evidence on its safety!
Moving on to some more things I learned…
The last thing there shows a statistical analysis that shows us no difference between a mother VBAC’ing her second child, and a first time mother giving birth to her first child. The fetal death rates are the same. This shows one thing to me, and many others who were also live tweeting during this, women are not being truly informed about all of the risks and benefits of VBAC. Women are not being given accurate, and real information.
There were several comments about women and their providers needing to be the ones making the decision regarding the mothers choice to VBAC or have an elective repeat cesarean, and some may not agree with me, but in my opinion it shouldn’t have to do with her provider at all. It should be the patients decision, period.
Another part of the survey that made me giggle was one of the reasons cited for women opting for elective cesareans instead of VBAC was to avoid the pain of labor which I have been through twice, also ending both times in a cesarean delivery. Avoid pain? Who are you trying to fool because cesareans certainly are not avoiding pain by any means!
More bits and pieces I learned :
Then came the discussion of woman’s stories, and what has taken place all over the country to women searching for VBAC as an option. Several ICAN women were quoted, as well as featured which I loved!
Gina also known as The Feminist Breeder was featured, and her struggle to have a VBAC.
Joy Szabo of Arizona who had to drive 350 miles, leave her husband and 3 children behind because of her hospitals choice to ban VBAC after she had already had a VBAC at this facility! (Joy will be on my radio show tomorrow night at 10pmEST)
The number of women, and their stories were touching, and made the whole experience and conference real it made the panel members, and audience members realize these are real women we are talking about and essentially deciding the future of their childbearing.
In many cases, the question and answer sessions were my favorite part. Although there were a few audience members who continued to get up with their long winded comments sometimes going no where, or no relevance to VBAC at all. Which bothered me because there was a clear line of providers and activists who had short, to the point, and important comments and questions.
Couple comments from the question and answer session which stood out to me :
(I promise, I am starting to get to the end)
One of my issues was the discussion on ethics when it comes to VBAC and elective repeat cesarean deliveries. There is such a gray line that is being crossed continually in this country. Women who have Child Protective Services called on them for being a “difficult patient” and that is something we should not be seeing at all. Being a difficult patient, and being an informed consumer should not be something women fear having their children taken because of.
We should not be seeing women rolled into the OR with Sheriffs or court orders.
We should not be seeing women charged with Murder over a stillbirth when a cesarean is declined.
These are real stories!
One last thing that really got me also!
A panel member said something about protecting the rights of patients AND providers… well ya know what.. the rights of the providers are the ones being protected, by these bans, the defensive medicine, women are the MOST venerable ones involved, and that should not be it!
I could sit on my soapbox for hours, so I will stop there.
I hope that the NIH takes this chance to really form a informed and evidence based guidelines and recommendation for this.
We will see tomorrow when they release it at noon!
While I wanted to be the first Blogger to have my live coverage up from the National Institute of Health VBAC Conference today, between a toddler and 9 month old, dinner, cleaning, and working on moving furniture out of the house for our delivery tomorrow, I can’t say I will be the first. Oh well, housework happens right? I neglected it enough today.
While I originally planned to have live and continuous coverage all day, again, life happens, and I did not realize how hard it would be to “live blog” with the time limits, as well as fast moving speakers. While the panel and speakers were on a strict time limit, things move quite quickly.
I was able to “tweet” live and I am going to use all the things I tweeted today to basically write my run down, as well as share some of the many things I learned today. I think after this conference I should have VBAC after my name just for all I know about it. I THOUGHT I knew a lot before this.
Now, I would like to add a short disclaimer that all of the above information is NOT information of mine. This belongs to the National Institute of Health’s VBAC Consensus presenters today. These are all studies THEY brought to the table, these are all numbers they they cited, and if you would like further information on ANY of this, you can pre order the full presentation and consensus report on the NIH Website.
These are FACTS that have come from medical professionals, scientific medical studies, and major universities.
I thought that I would be able to update live with everything going on, unfortunately I underestimated my children for the morning session. In reality with the vast amount of information being given, it is near impossible to really keep up.
I was able to tweet live on twitter, as well as watch the live twitter feed for the #NIHVBAC hashtag which is the current tag suggested for the conference itself. I am going to share some information I got off of there as well as some highlights from this morning.
The first thing I want to get out there is a CNM brought up in the question session was home birth, especially for VBAC mothers also known as Home Birth after Cesarean, or HBAC. The moderator promptly made a comment about how there are no accurate statistics for home birth. The room ERUPTED in YES THERE IS!!! And many people continued to speak out about it.
Other great highlights were Dr. Stuart Fischbein being the first person up to the question stand to talk about hospitals who have VBAC bans, hospital policy, and the lack of TRUE informed consent taking place nationally. He is my hero, and I am so excited to have him coming up on my radio show in April. Can I add him to the list of men I would like to marry?
Lots of other stuff included the difference in maternal death between VBAC and ERCD’s which out of 100,000 deliveries with previous cesarean sections, 9 out of 100,000 women will die from routine elective cesareans. Nor are we talking about the serious risks to future pregnancies including life threatening conditions, placental problems, future infertility, etc.
They also tackled the issues surrounding informed consent and how many women are not being given accurate information regarding VBAC Vs. ERCD and the risks involved. Whether for monetary or liability reasons.
There is so much, but once the conference is over tonight, and my husband is home from class, I will be blogging in full.
P.S. The Unnecesarean logo ended up on one of the presenter’s slides! I was so excited to see that, as well as the ICAN logo right next to it!
To start off, at the end of the next couple of days, when the consensus is over, you can obtain the report at http://www.ahrq.gov/ which is the agency that got the contract.
I am starting to watch, and blog and I am trying to get as much onto my blog as I can while following this myself.
I guess it is going to be harder than I though.
First thing I would like to point out is all the women on the panel, as well as all the different backgrounds of the panelists. Nurse midwives, OB’s, etc… A lot of my posts will e bullet points of statements from the conference.
Some appreciations to get familiar with for the next coupe days :
TOL = Trial of Labor
APC = After Prior Cesarean
VBAC = Vaginal Birth after Cesarean
ERCD = Elective Repeat Cesarean Delivery
Kicking off the National Institute of Health, VBAC Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, The Feminist Breeder, Michele Demont from Birthcut.com, and Desirre Andrews the current President of ICAN had an awesome radio show in which women could call in and talk about VBAC experiences and why VBAC is important, as well as an essential medical choice for women today.
To listen to the show, you can click here : VBACtivists
I was able to call in and share my experience, as well as my opinions on the reason why VBAC is so essential to our maternity care system.
Tune in tomorrow morning for more coverage on the National Institute of Health VBAC Conference.
The Connecticut Worst to First Campaign is looking for stories from women all over the Nation as part of a video project we are working on.
We are looking for women from all walks of life, and all areas who want to tell their story of struggling with the Hospital system regarding maternity care and birth.
From women victimized in the hospital, or subjected to court orders, CPS, or other forms of harassment, to unnecessary episiotomies, cesareans, and just overall rude comments.
If anyone would like to submit a story, or learn more, you can e-mail me at
You might be a VBACtivist if…
If you can think of anything else you would like to add on, e-mail me at CTBirthAdvocate@aol.com or just comment below!
Last night, cesarean mothers are the ones who were able to have their voices heard! And what an amazing radio show it turned out to be! We had a number of callers from all over the country, call in and share their stories, and feelings towards what was said on the Mominatrix radio show “Sex after a Cesarean”.
Myself, The Feminist Breeder, Desirre Andrews current ICAN President, and Michelle from BirthCut.com all listened to the stories of our sisters (and brothers) and what their cesarean did to them, how it impacted them, and their raw emotion on people telling them to “just get over it”.
It was so emotional for me, since I am still in the “recovery” phase from my VBAC turned CBAC in May of 2009. It may have been 8 months ago, but it emotionally feels like it all happened yesterday. I was able to keep my tears to myself until after the show when I let my emotions flow right out. I had so many e-mails, and comments on facebook and twitter thanking us for the show. There were many mothers who couldn’t stop crying long enough to call in, couldn’t get away from their kids, or emotionally couldn’t tell their story yet.
I have been so amazingly touched by this, I can honestly say this is an event I will never forget.
If you would like to listen to our show from last night, which I am about to listen to myself, from a listeners perspective, check out the link below.
We will be having a second radio show along these lines in hopes of giving women another open forum to discuss their feelings post cesarean section. So stay tuned for details!
Since I really started working in the pregnancy and birth community, one thing I have noticed is that I am really outnumbered when it comes to my views on abortion. While I am all for reproductive freedom just as most of the women I work closely with through pregnancy and birthing rights. I have also noticed most of these women are adamantly against abortion. While I personally am a mother who would never opt to end a pregnancy unless there was a sever medical reason that would put MY life in danger (because I have two young children that depend on me day in and day out) I fully believe all women should have full rights to make all choices regarding their reproductive system.
This includes :
(The list goes on and on)
But in the 2-3 years I have been on the “scene” I have noticed my views on reproductive freedoms are seriously outnumbered. We have women fighting for VBAC rights, the right to have a home birth, the rights of women to birth without shackled (for prisoners), the choice of women to make their own care choices… but it ends at that.
I must admit, I found “The Feminist Breeder” and I love her to death. I see so many of her views, in my own. So many of the same opinions, fights, passions… She is totally someone that I look up to. I really hope to turn my blog into something along the lines of hers. She definitely has a huge head start on me, but it is something to look forward to.
But I guess it just boggles my mind that women can fight so hard for so many reproductive rights in women, and fight for women to be able to make their own choices in their maternity care, but STOP dead in their tracks when it comes to anything, and everything else.
Of course, these other women, I respect their opinion, and honestly, if it doesn’t impact myself, or my own rights as a woman, I guess I just can’t wrap my mind around the line of thinking.
Last thing, I am not addressing simple “pro life” women. I am addressing the women who …
I am sure a lot of people will disagree with me, and that is fine, that is what makes us all unique individuals. I also hope that those who do not agree with my opinion do not judge me on one small way of my thinking.