Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) – Is it Right For You?

Doctors used to believe in the phrase “once a cesarean always a cesarean.” Today, we know that many women who have had a cesarean section can later give birth “naturally,” or through the vagina. This is called a “VBAC,” or vaginal birth after cesarean. This can be a safe option for many women. It is not the right choice for all women because there are both maternal and neonatal risks. You and your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of VBAC, as well as your chances of a successful VBAC.

Among the benefits of VBAC are the avoidance of major abdominal surgery, shorter hospital stays, a quicker recovery, less blood loss, lower rates of infection, and a decreased risk of complications in future pregnancies. Some of the risks of VBAC include failed trial of labor with subsequent cesarean, emergent surgery, increased rates of infection and transfusion, and the risk of uterine rupture. Uterine rupture, or dehiscence, at the site of a previous uterine scar can lead to both significant maternal and neonatal morbidity. This risk is rare (<1%) but is very serious and may be harmful , even catastrophic, to you and your baby. If you choose to attempt VBAC, you and your baby will be monitored very closely in labor.

Of women who try VBAC, about 60-80% will give birth vaginally. Success rates depend on multiple factors. Some of these factors include the reason for the prior cesarean section, history of a prior vaginal delivery, spontaneous labor versus induced labor, increased maternal age, and maternal obesity to list a few. Your obstetrician can discuss your personal history and risk factors so that you feel like you are making an informed choice.

At John Haugen Associates, we are supportive of VBAC under the right circumstances. We will always keep the health of you and your baby our first priority.