Questions to Ask your VBAC Provider
“What questions should I ask my VBAC provider?” This is one of the main things I’m asked by people planning VBACs. Before sharing a list of suggested questions, I want to make it clear that there’s no need to choose a VBAC provider until you’re sure they’re fully supportive of you having a VBAC. I recommend interviewing multiple providers before committing. Only when you’ve found the best fit possible should you go ahead and hire them.
Questions to ask your VBAC Provider:
What is your cesarean rate?
How many VBACs have you attended?
What is your VBAC rate?
What is your approach to fetal monitoring during a VBAC?
What will you suggest if my pregnancy goes beyond 40 weeks? 41 weeks?
What are my options for pain management during my labor?
How long are you comfortable with me laboring if myself and my baby appear healthy?
How will you support me during the pushing stage?
What’s your philosophy on using pitocin to induce or augment a VBAC labor?
How does your practice work in terms of the providers who are on call? If you’re not on call, will I get the same level of support?
Based on my childbirth history, what do you think my chances are of having a VBAC?
What are the VBAC policies of the hospital/birth center where you practice?
Notice that these are mostly open-ended questions. Asking a VBAC provider open-ended questions, instead of questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, allows you to get more information about their approach. Better yet, it requires them to share their philosophy in more depth and detail.
“Do you walk out of that VBAC provider’s office feeling motivated, excited, and positive about your VBAC? Or do you walk out feeling anxious and worried?”
How to interpret a VBAC provider’s responses:
We talk so much about what to ask VBAC providers, but we often forget the most important part – how to interpret their responses. A list of questions doesn”t help very much if we don’t understand the implications of the answers. Here are some red flags to look for when listening to a provider’s responses:
- The provider’s cesarean rate is high (the national average is around 32% and that’s pretty high already).
- The provider hasn’t attended many VBACs or can’t give you an estimate of how many they’ve attended. If the provider’s VBAC rate is less than 60%, this may indicate a less than supportive provider.
- The provider has a hard stop at 40 weeks and states that they either require induction or a repeat cesarean at that point.
- The provider will not, under any circumstances, use pitocin for a VBAC labor (see my article on VBAC and induction for more information about this).
- The provider uses the “VBAC calculator” to assess your chances of having a VBAC and states that your chances are low.
- The provider answers some of your questions with, “We’ll just have to see what happens when the time comes. We’ll take it one step at a time. We’ll discuss that later in your pregnancy.” This is a major red flag and an indicator of a provider very likely to pull a bait and switch on you. Providers like this appear supportive throughout most of pregnancy and then begin to change their tune at the end.
Finally, it’s critical to pay attention to how that provider and their responses make you feel when you are interviewing them. Do they take your questions seriously? Do they actively listen to you? Do they spend adequate time with you? Are they respectful? Is it clear that they view you as the autonomous decision-maker when it comes to your labor and birth? Do you walk out of that VBAC provider’s office feeling motivated, excited, and positive about your VBAC? Or do you walk out feeling anxious and worried?
More support for asking questions to VBAC providers
In my professional experience, I have learned that choosing a truly supportive VBAC provider is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of having a VBAC. I’ve seen too many people get overwhelmed by the process of finding a supportive VBAC provider and end up settling for somebody who is less than supportive. That’s why I created this guide.
5 Steps to Hiring your Best VBAC Provider will walk you through the process of finding a supportive VBAC provider. It will help you determine how to find potential providers, teach you how to set up interviews, lead you through the process of creating a question list that best fits your unique needs and preferences, and help you ultimately determine best fit for you. Grab it here!
I'm Taylor, your VBAC Doula
I’m a doula, doula trainer, childbirth educator, ICAN leader, cesarean mama, VBAC mama, and HBAC mama. My mission is to support VBAC hopefuls to have empowered births.
"Taylor is warm, encouraging, and assertive. She allowed me to take charge and supported my decisions. I know that is the role of a doula, but I guess I expected to be following her lead or waiting for her suggestions. In the moment of labor, I needed those around me to support me in whatever felt right in that moment. It’s like she knew my body would lead and she followed that. I felt loved and heard every step along the way."