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Can I have a water birth with a vbac?

YES! is the quick answer.

About half of my doula clients had vbacs, and the vast majority of them, at home in birth pools.

The national NICE guidelines say clinicians should "Support informed choice of a full range of options for pain relief for women who have had a previous caesarean section, including labour and birth in water."

However you are likely to find that your local hospital's VBAC policy recommends against using a birth pool. This is because of recommendation to have continual ctg monitoring of baby. However, there is no evidence that continual ctg monitoring is better than intermittent monitoring with a handheld device at detecting problems with baby's heart rate, and it increases your chance of ending up with a caesarean.

Some units have wireless ctg monitoring, which means you could still have it if you wanted, or you can simply decline continual ctg, and opt for intermittent monitoring, with a handheld device.

However, you may find you face barriers to using a pool in labour, either in birth centre/midwife led unit, or obstetric led unit (aka labour ward).


1. Plan a home birth (see other blog post on home birth vbac). This is the best way to guarantee access to a pool.

2. Tell your midwife that you want a water birth, at home, at birth centre/midwife led unit, at obstetric led unit (aka labour ward). Explain that you decline continual ctg monitoring and opt for intermittent auscultation, or that you want to have wireless ctg monitoring. Ask her to do what she needs to do to sort it out and ask her to put it in your notes. You do not need to see an obstetrician to get permission.

3. If that doesn't work, write to the head of midwifery and ask to be supported with a water birth. Explain it is your informed decision, you decline continual ctg monitoring and opt for intermittent auscultation, or wireless ctg monitoring.

4. If that doesn't work, try 1. Or contact Birthrights UK for support.

Read this birth story from Jo, who had a water birth on a midwife led unit.

If you would like to know more about vbac & your options, join me for an online VBAC workshop. There's one in December. You do not need to be pregnant yet to attend.

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