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Birth interventions lead to higher vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)

Birth interventions lead to higher vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)
Friday, February 24, 2023

Baby boy (9-12 months) sleeping with hospital bracelet on wrist, close-up.

Managing a farm and preparing for a baby requires lots of the same skills.

Thoughtful planning? Check. A supportive community? Check. Confidence and faith? Check. Just ask Lauren Barry and Michael Anderson. The farmers and entrepreneurs from Wabasha, Minn., welcomed their first child – Arthur Leo – into the world on Jan. 17, 2023.

They wanted an unmedicated birth and the team at Gundersen Health System was with them every step of the way – literally. Their nurse clipped the couple’s Bluetooth speaker – which streamed soothing music – to her scrubs and walked with them as Lauren labored.

"They read our birth plan and respected our wishes," Lauren said. "We felt supported and empowered but not pressured to make decisions that didn’t align with our values."

Cohesive care teams support moms and families

Gundersen labor and delivery nurse Katie Nitecki said, "We work as one cohesive team to support all laboring moms and their families. We encourage our families to talk with us. Share your wishes, desires and wants. Ask questions – and be an active participant in your care."

That combination of supporting moms while providing the best, safest care is a balance that Gundersen’s team champions.

"It’s a balancing act," said Amy Frauenkron, clinical operations director at Gundersen. "We don’t jump too fast to make decisions nor do we wait too long to take necessary action."

Gundersen’s VBAC success rate passes national average for vaginal birth after cesarean

That careful coordination is reflected in 2022 data. Moms who’ve had a previous cesarean delivery, or c-section, can choose a scheduled c-section or a vaginal delivery during the second pregnancy. Last year, Gundersen’s vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC, success rate was 86%. The average success rate is between 60 and 80%.

"Our staff is here to support every mom and baby, regardless of the type of delivery they experience," Amy said. "We want the families to have a wonderful experience during this exciting time in their lives. I want to make sure our moms know they are rockstars no matter how they give birth." 

Gundersen’s primary c-section rate (when a c-section is performed for the first time on a pregnant woman) in 2022 was 13.5%. In the U.S. in 2021, the rate of primary c-section deliveries was 22.4%. The overall c-section rate, including primary and secondary deliveries, at Gundersen was 23.6%. Data from 2020 shows the Wisconsin average is 26.7%.

"Our team understands what women’s bodies go through during labor," Amy says. "We know which alternative methods, enhancements and interventions help moms cope and move through the labor and delivery process."

Interventions like a squat bar, birthing stool and bathtub – which Lauren and Michael used in their delivery room.

Labor interventions available at Gundersen:

  • Laboring in the tub
  • Touch therapy (applying pressure or massage to points to help reduce pain)
  • IV medications
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Epidural
  • Peanut balls
  • Relaxing music
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Coaching on focused breathing

Education registered nurses (RNs) at receive at Gundersen:

  • Peanut ball use and positioning
  • Labor support education
  • Learning opportunities from colleagues
  • Physiologic birth training workshop
  • Hands-on learning while working on the floor

These interventions, paired with the empowering team at Gundersen, helped Lauren deliver Arthur unmedicated. Now, the family of 3 prepares for a new season. On their 5-acre veggie farming operation, Dancing Gnome Farm, they grow nearly 250 vegetables – including 42 types of tomatoes.

"As we move into spring,’ Lauren said, ‘we look forward to spending sunny days in the greenhouse with Arthur in tow."

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