Your partner has delivered a baby before, via c-section, so this isn't your first rodeo. And since you've been here before, dad, you're probably experiencing a plethora of emotions and especially now that you're hearing the word "VBAC" being thrown around. In case you don't know, VBAC stands for "vaginal birth after cesarean," and these kinds of deliveries are on the rise. It's important to know, too, that there are things about a VBAC dads just don't get a say in. Sorry... except not really.
The first thing you should know is that, despite their past history of being unsafe and inadvisable, the old wisdom of "once a C-section always a C-section" is outdated. Because of improved surgical techniques, VBACs are, on the whole, considered quite safe. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that most women who have had a previous C-section are good candidates to attempt a trial-of-labor (TOLAC) and VBAC. The second thing you should know is that a lot of women have feels about VBAC deliveries. For some, attempting a VBAC is extraordinarily important. For others, it's something they'd like but aren't dead-set on. For more still, it's something they have no interest in whatsoever.
Here's where you come in on this whole issue.
I'm sorry, guys. It's nothing personal. If it makes you feel better, I don't have a say in your partner's VBAC (or non-VBAC) either. No one does except for your partner and her care provider. Which means you, beloved father of their child, don't get to decide the following:
Whether They Want A VBAC
If your partner wants to have a VBAC, that's a decision between them and their care provider. You are certainly entitled to your opinion on the matter, good sir, and hopefully you're in a relationship that puts a premium on discussing your assorted opinions in a respectful, open manner. But, ultimately, your opinion does not, in this case, entitled you to a vote, much less a veto. Their body, their choice.
Whether They *Don't* Want A VBAC
If your partner is more comfortable with a repeat C-section, that's cool. They're under absolutely no obligation to attempt a VBAC. Even if you think: "But look, this says you're a good candidate! Don't you want to at least try?!" NOPE. It's cool that you're taking an interest in the birthing process and sharing your research, but your partner knows what they want.
How They Feel About Their Previous C-Section
There's a lot of pressure for C-section moms to feel grateful for their C-section. While gratitude is a perfectly valid feeling to have after such a birth (in many cases C-sections do, indeed, save lives), it's also perfectly valid to feel traumatized, betrayed, hurt, sadness, and any number of other negative emotions. It's even possible to feel a whole whirl of negative emotions while feeling ultimately grateful.
VBAC moms often encounter naysayers who would pressure them to do another C-section because they should feel fine about it. But that's not for anyone to say, including you, her partner and father of her child. (And, of course, I should include that one can feel free to attempt a VBAC even if they had an positive C-section experience.) No one gets to dictate someone else's feelings and motivations to them.
Choosing Their Care Provider
Sorry, dude, but you're not the one who's going to be spreading your legs in front of this person on a regular basis for the better part of a year.
Choosing Where They Deliver
You. Are. Not. The. One. Squeezing. A. Human. Out. Of. Your. Bathing. Suit. Area.
Again, your opinion is not the same as your power or right to influence this situation.
Any Medical Interventions They Want Or Don't
"Well, don't you think you should go for a membrane sweep?"
"Do you think it's time for an induction?"
"Do you really want an induction? Because my research says..."
"Yes, I do."
"Shouldn't you just agree ahead of time to get an episiotomy?"
Again, this is between your and their care provider. Even if you are a licensed OB-GYN, there's a reason doctors are ethically kept from practicing medicine on their loved ones.
The Pain Management Techniques They Choose
The subject of pain management during a VBAC delivery is hotly debated. Some VBAC moms want absolutely no medical pain relief because they believe it will increase the likelihood of another C-section. Others are totally down with their dear friend, Mr. Epidural (or, depending on how much pain you're in when you get it, St. Epidural). You don't get to lecture your partner on their views, and you definitely don't get to lecture them for changing their minds when they're in labor. They have the right to follow through with or change their birth plan whenever they damn well please.
Guys, you don't get a say.
My dude, repeat after me: it's not your body, it's not your birth, this isn't your choice.
I'm just going to keep repeating the same thing over and over again because I really want to make sure you internalize the idea that this has nothing to do with you and is entirely outside of your realm of control.
No, Seriously, Literally Anything
Unless a medical emergency arises when your partner is unconscious and you are their medical proxy, you don't have a say in how she brings your child into the world. And even then, the ethical thing to do would be to respect her wishes in any way you can.