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10 Things I learned about VBAC in China

Post Delivery

China is constantly changing and adapting to the rest of the world. However, it is important to have patience and understanding when it comes to certain medical procedures that are still new here. VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) is an example of one of these procedures.

Here are few things you need to know if you’d like to attempt a VBAC in a Chinese hospital:

  1. Advocate for yourself and investigate which hospitals and doctors are pro-VBAC. The doctor will be the one to give the green light to the hospital, so they don’t suddenly push you towards the C-section.
  2. Be mentally ready that you won’t get much assistance during contractions. And be aware that they may not really monitor the baby during labor: in the 16 hours I was at the hospital, I only had the monitor hooked up once at the very beginning. They did mention they would monitor again once the active labour started.
  3. You will be allowed to move around and labour in any position until you dilate to 10 cm. Unless you are in a private hospital with available facilities, you won’t be allowed into a bath tub – as they don’t have them in public hospitals.
  4. You can be induced. In that case you may not be able to move – most of the hospitals will require you to be bed-bound.
  5. You won’t be allowed an epidural – or any pain medicine for that matter. They are too afraid of the uterine rupture. I signed 5 different release forms in preparation to be allowed pain meds, but even then I was denied an epidural for fear that I wouldn’t recognize a uterine rupture. Private hospitals might be more willing to allow for pain meds.

In my case VBAC failed. Part of me feels it was somewhat my own fault, but I also feel the hospital is at fault since I had no assistance from them. In fact, I was constantly being told the baby was too big. I was not encouraged by anyone but my husband. For my own part, I feel I could have been a bit more persistent with it, but the fact that I started passing out, and by 16th hour was barely conscious enough to consent to the C-section, I think I gave as much as I could.

I was not allowed to try VBA2C with my 3rd even though I actually had much more progress in much less time with him than with my 2nd. But the hospital informed me that 1.) I had already had 2 C-sections and,  2.) I had one just 2 years ago and it is too short period of time to have a baby in general after a C-section. Because of this I had to have 2 obstetric surgeons operate on me as a hospital policy and a precaution.

Here are some more tips to if you are thinking about attempting a VBAC in China:

  1. Do your research. In reality the number of VBACs in China is increasing as more and more doctors here become pro-natural birth and more and more mothers-to-be opt for natural delivery.
  2. Reach out to other expats. If you can afford it, hire a doula or have an experienced friend coach you through.
  3. Participate in birthing classes. The opinions about their use are different from person to person, but it won’t hurt to go for some. Plus, it’s always a great way to meet more moms!
  4. Make sure you have support from your partner and friends. They make up for when the hospital isn’t very supportive.
  5. Don’t stress. Whatever the outcome, most important is you and your baby’s health. If by some wicked reason your VBAC fails like mine did, keep in mind that you at least tried!

Wishing you health!


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Varya Sanina-Garmroud

Varya is a contributor to havingababyinchina.com. She is originally from Russia and has been living in China for over a decade. She is a Mom of 3 children, a linguist, an early education expert, baby massage and perinatal fitness trainer, breastfeeding and lactation specialist. She blogs at creativeworldofvarya.com about craft, parenting, cooking, moral education and multiculturalism.

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