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Vaginal Delivery After Cesarean (VBAC)

Elizabeth Keefe | 3, December 2013


It used to be that if a woman gave birth by cesarean, then she would never be able to give birth vaginally. That is not the case today. Many women who have had a cesarean have successfully gone through a vaginal birth after cesarean delivery or VBAC. The risks and benefits associated with a vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC ultimately will need to be discussed with your doctor as each woman's situation is different. Some doctors will still automatically assume that you want to deliver by cesarean like the first time, so if you want to try a vaginal birth, make sure you speak up soon!

Benefits of Vaginal Birth after Cesarean

The benefits of giving birth vaginally will always outweigh that of cesarean on a personal level. Most women wish to give birth to their child the way women were meant to — vaginally. There is something special about a normal childbirth that only a mother who has done it can describe.

Aside from the experience of a normal delivery every woman dreams of, the benefits of VBAC include:

- Less recovery time. You will be walking around and taking care of your baby in no time compared to the weeks of recovery from a cesarean.
- You can go home from the hospital sooner. Contrary to the three to four days you will need to stay in the hospital after a cesarean, you can go home as soon as 1 day after a vaginal delivery, as long as everything goes smoothly.
- There will be no need for surgery, having your incision opened up, risking infection and blood loss.
- If you choose to, breastfeeding your baby immediately after childbirth will be easier and will not be painful.

Risks associated with VBAC?

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women who want to try giving birth vaginally will go through what is called a trial of labor after cesarean or TOLAC. This trial will help a doctor decide during labor if he feels that it is safe to go ahead with a normal delivery. However, in some circumstances, a cesarean will be required, either to save a mother and her baby's life, or due to complications during pregnancy or labor.

One possible risk according to the ACOG is that the cesarean scar may rupture, or the uterus may rupture. Some types of incisions used during a cesarean put a woman at higher risk of rupture such as a vertical incision or up and down. Side to side incisions carry the least risk. If you are considered high risk for uterine rupture, then you should not try a VBAC.

What Are Your Chances of a Successful VBAC?

Whether of not you can successfully give birth vaginally will depend on a number of factors. According to WebMD, it will depend on the following to determine if you will have a successful vaginal birth:

Decreased chance of a successful VBAC

- If you are obese
- If you a short woman
- If you are over the age of 40
- If your labor is being induced
- If you gained too much weight during pregnancy
- If you are 1 week or more overdue.
- If you have diabetes, or gestational diabetes

Increased chance of a successful VBAC

- If you have had a vaginal delivery in the past
- If you go into labor spontaneously
- If you have a healthy cervix capable of handling delivery
- If you do not have placenta previa or herpes, and your baby is not in breech position.
- If you go into preterm labor.

In addition, it is advised by the ACOG, that you have a healthy pregnancy with no risky pregnancy complications. If you want to try a VBAC, make sure that you are as healthy as can be before getting pregnant if you can, as well as during your pregnancy. If you have not already, begin a pregnancy exercise program combined with healthy nutrition to help keep your weight in check. Attend all of your OBGYN appointments to make sure there is no underlying pregnancy condition that needs to be treated or monitored.

If you arrive at the hospital ready for labor and a vaginal birth, and you haven't been taking as care of yourself as you should have, you may need to have a cesarean again. However, as long as everything go smoothly, this will be a new experience for you! Be prepared, attend childbirth classes, take care of your body, and you will be on your way to experience the miracle of giving birth the way it was meant to be — vaginally.

Related Articles

Safety of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

Can You Deliver VBAC Successfully?

Guide to Cesarean Sections

So Breech Babies Have To Be Delivered By Cesarean?

Create a Positive Cesarean Birthing Experience


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