If you’ve had a C-section before, you may wonder what your options are for your next delivery. Many women are able to choose between scheduling a repeat C-section and attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC. In fact, about 60-80% of women who attempt a vaginal delivery will be successful. Planning for either type of delivery requires a careful discussion with your doctor or midwife, and there are a few things to consider.
1. Am I a candidate?
Many women are candidates for VBAC. There are factors that increase or decrease your chance of successful vaginal delivery, and you are better candidate if you have a high chance of success. A VBAC is NOT recommended if you’ve had a vertical (or classical) incision on your uterus or if you’ve ever had a uterine rupture in the past. Your provider can help you determine if you are a candidate.
2. How likely am I to be able to deliver vaginally?
Your chance of successful VBAC are higher if:
Your chance of successful VBAC are lower if:
3. What are the benefits?
An uncomplicated VBAC has lower risk compared to C-section. Advantages include:
4. What are the risks?
As with any delivery, we don’t know ahead of time if a VBAC will work. A VBAC that is NOT successful is generally more risky than a scheduled C-section. Risks include:
5. What should I expect in labor?
Women who are planning a VBAC usually follow the same process as any other labor, though your baby will be monitored more closely. It is important to be in the hospital for continuous monitoring during labor to make sure you and baby are safe.
Having a VBAC can be safe and successful, but it is important to discuss your questions and risks with your provider to ensure that you can make the decision that’s best for you.
Written By: Dr. Leigh Koidahl, MD