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 good candidates for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). On average, as many as 60 to 80 percent of women who attempt VBAC are successful.
Each pregnancy is different. Just because one of your pregnancies required a C-section, that 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 feeling out of control of your own pregnancy.
Benefits of VBAC
Choosing VBAC makes sense for many reasons. Having a vaginal delivery, if possible, avoids major abdominal surgery, so there would be a faster 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 heightening risk for other complications later. For most, the recovery after vaginal birth is more comfortable compared to a C-section.
Many mothers prefer to undergo VBAC rather than a second cesarean because the faster recovery means that they’ll be in a better position to be present and provide care for their newborn baby. Complications and recovery associated with c-sections can diminish valuable bonding time immediately after birth.
Additionally, there’s some evidence to suggest that vaginal birth tends to be less traumatic on newborns. Newborns delivered vaginally are at a lower risk to develop respiratory conditions, for example, than those who are delivered via c-section. A successful vaginal delivery after a c-section will also diminish risks associated with future vaginal deliveries.
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’s head is 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:
- Other prior uterine surgeries
- A classical or vertical uterine incision
- A history of uterine rupture
Importantly: 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 tend to have 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
Your Current Health and Birth History
No matter what is happening with your pregnancy, taking care of your health is of utmost importance and is the best way to ensure that your delivery is safe and healthy. Thus, it’s vital that you do what you can through lifestyle and diet to stay in good shape.
However, it’s also important to recognize some factors that could put you at risk in the case of a VBAC are not your fault, so if you find out you don’t qualify, don’t be hard on yourself.
Planning Ahead to Determine if VBAC is an Option for This Pregnancy
Recovery from C-sections can be lengthy for a number of reasons, including complications having to do with scar tissue. Because of this, one of the critical planning recommendations for those who are looking for a non-C-section birth the second time around is that you space the births out with enough time for recovery.
For instance, if you have had a baby vaginally in the past, and your current baby is in a head-down position, VBAC could be a good option for your next delivery.
A consultation with a prenatal provider prior to initiating care is always a great idea.
Finding Support for Your 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 or midwife.
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 favors natural birth such as the International Cesarean Awareness Network. Take care of yourself throughout your pregnancy and listen to your body.
When it comes to VBACs, the truth is that not all healthcare practitioners will be supportive of this type of practice. It’s encouraged to turn to support groups in your area or even online, find prenatal VBAC classes, and seek out other people in the same situation for support.
However, if you have the support of a trusted OBGYN, midwife or doula, as well as other healthcare professionals, you will be able to receive proper guidance and support when it comes to your VBAC.
We support VBAC deliveries. You can read more about delivering your baby and VBAC on our page, types of delivery in pregnancy.
Would you like to learn more about VBACs and how to improve your chances of having this type of delivery? Contact our Wilmette or Glenview offices today and schedule an appointment with an OBGYN to learn more about VBAC and your options for delivery.