Thursday, December 17, 2009


Recently, while attending a wonderful VBAC birth (vaginal birth after cesarean) at a local hospital, I was reminded of the power of words.  And more specifically acronyms.  I have always called a family trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean as a VBAC birth. But on this day - all the medical personnel used the term "TOLAC" or Trial of Labor After Cesarean. They told me until the birth ended, it was not technically a VBAC but a TOLAC. (I think sometimes it is a medical mentality that all births are a TOL which again may be true technically but we used to just call it labor for the work at hand, not for the pass/fail conclusion).

It always seems that a negative spin is put on birth - especially for a family facing tough or unexpected paths.  Why do we call the need for surgery as a FTP (failure to progress)?  I know it may be technically accurate - but it seems to say to the family "you have failed" in what is a normal process.  Perhaps surgery became necessary due to a baby realizing it wasn't safe to proceed in a vaginal process. Perhaps mom's health would be compromised if it proceeded vaginally.  Could it be that the family actually were extremely successful in their decisions and a successful outcome of a healthy baby/healthy mom was achieved? But moms many times end up feeling they are a failure - does that start from the words used?

I'm just thinking out loud here - but I prefer to always believe a birth will work and I feel with good information, decisions, patience, etc, births do work.  It is just that we forget, babies have the ultimate say. So THEIR stamp of success on the birth could be a surgical ending but a wonderful beginning for a family of a new baby.  So for the next VBAC/TOLAC birth, I think I will just call it what it is -  "a birth".