Most women who have had a prior cesarean section (c-section) are good candidates for vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), a birthing option. The decision to try for a VBAC is one that many women consider. Note that every woman and every birth is different. Here are five VBAC questions you should ask both yourself and your healthcare provider to decide if a VBAC is right for you.
1. Do I want a VBAC?
Many women assume that once you have a c-section, you always have to have a c-section. This is not always the case. It’s important to know that you have a choice. VBAC is an option – whether or not you consider having one is up to you. Many women consider VBACs for personal or medical reasons. Some are more sentimental and want to have a vaginal birth. Some women don’t want to have a second surgery. Others want to be able to walk around their room after giving birth and not have to recover from surgery and care for two or more kids.
2. Do I have a healthcare provider and a hospital that supports VBAC deliveries?
It can be difficult to find a doctor that will do a VBAC and a hospital that will support VBAC for a variety of reasons. Burdett Birth Center offers VBACs. Our successful VBAC rate for 2018 was 72.5 percent, while our cohort was 65.5 percent. (A cohort group is hospitals that average close to the same number of deliveries Burdett averages.) Also, our c-section rate was 23.7 percent for 2018, compared to 29.5 percent for our cohort. Our primary c-section rate at 11.9 percent and our repeat c-section rate was 11.9 percent, compared to 16 percent and 13.5 percent for our cohort. When considering VBAC, talk with your provider and your preferred hospital about their VBAC policies.
3. Am I good candidate for a VBAC?
Most women who have had a c-section are good candidates for VBAC. However, it’s important to look at your individual medical history and discuss it with your provider. Make sure that you show your medical records of your previous delivery to your OB/GYN or midwife for close review. Factors such as the type of c-section incision, previous births and c-sections and any existing medical conditions all come into play.
4. What are the risks associated with VBACs?
Of course, there are risks associated with VBAC, as pointed out by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). These include complications such as blood loss or infection. A rare, but serious risk is a rupture of the uterus, which can occur if the cesarean scar breaks open. Some uterine scars are more likely than others to cause a rupture. It’s important to be aware of these risks and to discuss them with your provider and evaluate these risks on your own.
5. How do I prepare for a VBAC (and the chance that it could not happen)?
If you’re planning for a VBAC, note that there is a chance that it may not happen. A birth plan is a guide, not always a rigid schedule, as safety of the mom-to-be and baby are the number one priority. Ahead of time, talk with your healthcare provider about the possible outcomes for labor and delivery and how you would like each outcome to be handled. A provider and the hospital will respect your birth plan but will also be flexible for any changes that need to occur.
If you have any further questions about vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC), we recommend that you talk with your healthcare provider.