At one time it was believed that once you had a C-section, any future pregnancies would also require a C-section. Today more and more women are candidates for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). As many as 60 to 80 percent of women who attempt VBAC are successful.
Each pregnancy is different, so just because one of your pregnancies required a C-section doesn’t mean the next one will. It’s important to know all your options, which can help to reduce any sense of fear, confusion or being out of control of your own pregnancy.
Benefits of VBAC
Choosing VBAC makes sense for a lot of reasons. Having a vaginal delivery if possible avoids having major abdominal surgery, so there would be a shorter recovery time and a shorter hospital stay. You are less likely to have certain complications such as infections, hemorrhages or blood clots. If you are hoping to have other children in the future, having a successful VBAC can help to avoid multiple C-sections. Your recovery is not as uncomfortable after a vaginal birth as it is after a C-section.
Factors That May Make You a Good Candidate for VBAC
If you are hoping to have a vaginal delivery after you have already had a cesarean, there are certain factors that indicate that you might be a good candidate. These factors include:
- Your baby is head down
- Your labor starts on its own
- You have had at least one successful vaginal delivery in the past, although this is not mandatory
- A low transverse uterine incision was used for your cesarean section.
Factors That Make It Less Likely You Can Have a Successful VBAC
There are some factors that make it less likely that VBAC is a good option for you. These factors include:
- It has been less than 18 to 24 months since your C-section
- Your fetus is larger than 9 lbs.
- Your previous C-section was because of failure to progress
- You are expecting multiples
You are NOT a VBAC candidate if you have a vertical scar on your uterus or your baby is not in a head down position
Other Things to Consider
If you are hoping to have a VBAC, it’s important to find a hospital or provider who believes in them and doesn’t try to talk you out of having one when you are a good candidate. Your provider should have a VBAC success rate of over 75% and a low cesarean rate.
Consider a midwife, because midwives have a very low rate of C-sections. If you have any doubts about what the caregiver you have chosen is telling you, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.
Planning a VBAC
Your individual circumstances will affect whether a VBAC is a good option for you. The decision to proceed should be shared between you and your OBGYN.
Let your family and friends know that you need their unconditional support as well. If you don’t feel you’re getting the support you need from them, look for a support group that supports natural birth such as the International Cesarean Awareness Network. Take care of yourself throughout your pregnancy and listen to your body.