Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section (VBAC)

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean Section (VBAC)

 

The old saying “once a cesarean always a cesarean” is not always true. The majority of women who have had a cesarean, also called a C-section, are candidates for a vaginal birth with their next pregnancy. The letters VBAC stand for "vaginal birth after cesarean".

 

Why would I want a vaginal birth over a planned cesarean?

 There are many benefits to the mother for a vaginal birth. These are:

  • Faster recovery after birth
  • Breastfeeding is generally easier after a vaginal birth
  • Complications from surgery are prevented
  • Less blood loss
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Prevention of an injury occurring during surgery
  • Less likely to get blood clots in the legs, which can happen from any surgery
  • Less anesthesia and pain medicine are needed after delivery
  • Lower cost for a vaginal birth than a cesarean
  • Maternal death is potentially lower with a vaginal birth than a cesarean

 There are also benefits for the baby with a vaginal birth. These are:

  • Less risk of early delivery
  • Labor prepares the baby for life outside the womb
  • Fewer breathing problems
  • More opportunities for mother-baby bonding

 

How do I know if I can have a vaginal birth?

Talk with your doctor about your ability to have a vaginal birth.

  • If you had a C-section and had a low transverse incision, you may be able to have a VBAC.
  • If you previously had a cesarean because your baby was in either a breech position (feet first) or there were concerns with your baby’s health during labor, you may be able to have a VBAC. If you had a C-section for other reasons, talk with your doctor about your ability to have a VBAC.
  • If you are willing to prepare for a VBAC and accept the risks of a VBAC you may be able to do so.

 

How do I know if I should have a repeat cesarean?

Talk with your doctor about your concerns with a VBAC.

  • Some women prefer a scheduled, repeat cesarean.
  • Women with a vertical uterine incision should not have a VBAC.
  • Scheduled repeated C-section reduces the risk of uterine rupture during an attempted VBAC, which can potentially harm the mother and baby.

 

How can I prepare for a VBAC?

There are things you can do to prepare for a VBAC:

  • Read about vaginal births after a cesarean, so you understand your options and know the statistics associated with VBAC and repeat cesarean delivery.
  • Discuss the benefits and possibility of a VBAC with your health care provider.
    • Find out why you had a prior cesarean.
    • Talk about a birth plan with your health care provider.
  • Prepare physically for a VBAC. Labor is the hardest work you will ever do. Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.
  • Take prenatal classes. Learn about the birthing experience.
  • Believe in yourself, your body, and the process of birth.
    • Be proactive and talk about pain medicine options during birth with your health care provider.
    • Confront any negative emotions you may have from the prior cesarean birth. Some women experience guilt or disappointment. Develop positive feelings about the birthing process.
    • Reassure family and friends about the safe decisions you are making for your and your baby.

 

© 2009 – July 25, 2019, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or healthcare team if you have any questions about your care. For more health information, call the Library for Health Information at 614-293-3707 or email: health-info@osu.edu.