Hospital Bans VBACs—Could It Happen to You?

Some moms-to-be like Laura Nelson picked Hudson Hospital in Hudson, Wisconsin, because of its VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) friendly policy. But now, just weeks before she’s due, Nelson is looking for a new hospital (and new ob-gyn) to assist in her attempt to have a VBAC, because the hospital has banned this option after August 31st.

In a written statement to local news station WCCO, the hospital stated, “We support VBACs as an option for women, but at this time we cannot provide this service due to human resource constraints.” And it seems, according to two ob-gyns we heard from, that recommendations from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) requiring anesthesiologists and ob-gyns to remain in hospital for the entirety of a VBAC patient’s labor could be to blame for this.

“Most hospitals across the country will not offer VBACs to their patients if there is not 24 hour obstetric and/or anesthesia personal available to perform an emergency C-section or surgery,” says ob-gyn Michele Hakakha. “Budget cuts and poor funding are main reasons for hospitals not having 24-hour in-house care. Other reasons may be lack of specialized caregivers, or too few caregivers to warrant many days of in-house call per week.”

And unfortunately, money may be at play. “OBs who do VBACs and anesthesiologists with a VBAC in labor know that they are required to be ‘in house’ for however long it takes the patient to deliver—and they are NOT able to bill for their time in doing this,” says Marra Francis, ob-gyn and author of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. “Hospitals can choose to reimburse physicians for the time they are at the hospital providing care or they can decline to reimburse them. But if all three entities (hospital, OB, Anesthesiology) can not come to an agreement on how providing VBACs will be done in order to provide the safest care that meets ACOG’s regulations, the hospital will not allow VBACs because of the liability they assume.”

This comes at a time when many experts are concerned about the growing number of C-sections, despite the fact that VBACs have a 75 percent success rate—and moms who give birth vaginally have a much shorter recovery time than those who have a C-section.

In a statement, Hudson Hospital said its working with the affected patients to help them find somewhere else to try their VBAC. But let’s hope the policy changes soon as well, so moms-to-be have more options.

Tell us: Did you have a VBAC? Was it difficult to find an ob-gyn or hospital who would accommodate you?

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