Mom won't be forced to have C-section

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Jeff Szabo was by his wife's side when she gave birth to their son Gabriel seven years ago, and he was right there holding Joy's hand when their younger sons Michael and Daniel were born, too. Jeff Szabo was there when Joy gave birth to Gabriel, Michael and Daniel, but will probably miss No. 4.

... when this baby is born, her husband will most likely be more than 300 miles away.

The reason: Their local hospital ... won't deliver the Szabos' baby vaginally ... so a week or so before her ... due date, Joy will drive 350 miles to be near a hospital in Phoenix that will.

Their local hospital says they'll only deliver the Szabos' baby ... via Caesarean section. Joy had her second son ... by C-section. Page Hospital says it won't do a vaginal birth after a woman has had a C-section ...

... "I'm so upset about this," Jeff says. "I've been there in the delivery room for all the other boys and I won't be there for this baby, and I won't be there for Joy."

The Szabos and a growing number of other families are facing the choice of Mom having a surgery she doesn't want or attempting a vaginal birth at a hospital that, in most cases, would be far away.

... The Szabos' story began in 2004 when she was in labor with Michael. ... Page Hospital feared the baby wasn't getting enough oxygen, and so they performed an emergency Caesarean section.

... Two years later, Szabo had a successful ... vaginal delivery ... She assumed she could have a vaginal birth this time too, but, she says, a month ago her doctor told her Page Hospital had changed its policy and she'd have to have a C-section.

Studies have shown VBACs carry with them an increased risk of a uterine rupture compared with births in women who've never had a C-section, but the risk is less than 1 percent, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists.

The results of a uterine rupture can be devastating: The baby could die or have permanent brain damage.

" ... we think the risks of surgery are worse," Joy Szabo says. C-section risks include breathing problems for the baby and infections and bleeding for the mother ...

"And I don't want to have to recover from surgery when I'll have four children at home, at least not voluntarily," says Joy.

... When the couple [spoke of] their desire for a vaginal birth, they ... would not budge, even telling them she would get a court order if necessary to ensure Joy delivered via C-section.

"I was a bit flabbergasted, because that seemed rather extreme," Joy says. "I'd already had a VBAC ... and it went fine. And if something happened, I know they can do an emergency C-section ..."

... Banner Health, which owns Page Hospital, says it decided to stop performing VBACs ... when ACOG ... established guidelines for hospitals that Page Hospital was not adequately staffed to satisfy.

The ACOG guidelines recommend "24/7 coverage of both physician and anesthesiologist," and that "two physicians be immediately available during the entire period of labor," ...

... Since the ACOG guidelines came out ... more and more hospitals have refused to do VBACs. Today, nearly half of hospitals won't do VBACs, either because the hospital has banned them or because doctors won't do them ...

To get around the ban, Joy Szabo plans on moving to an apartment in Phoenix in the middle of November. They have no friends or family there ...

... The key is to look around for a doctor or midwife who shares your philosophy by asking questions about their induction rate, or whether they perform episiotomies routinely ... Also, choosing the right hospital or birthing center makes a big difference. "The institution you walk into profoundly affects you," ...

Some hospitals in NSW do not accept VBAC women. Some will offer elective repeat caesareans instead, so a few women in this State find that they need to travel to have a VBAC.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448