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Getting the Birth Experience You Want

Check on hospital policies. If you're considering a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), it may not be permitted at medical facilities in your community. Then you'll have to weigh the risks of trying for a vaginal birth, and whether it's worth going to a hospital where that's an option, especially if it means a long drive there while you're in labor. In some areas, VBAC isn't available at all.

Prepare for the possibility of surgical birth. If a planned c-section is advised during your pregnancy, there's plenty of time to investigate the risks and benefits -- or get a second opinion if you disagree with the recommendation. But what if a problem strikes while you're in the throes of labor? Plan ahead with a written list of questions to ask: Is this an emergency or can we wait an hour to make a decision?, What are my other options?, and What are the risks to me and the baby if I don't have surgery? If you aren't comfortable with the responses, remember that you have the right to refuse medical procedures or go to another hospital.

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