Know Your Options: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
If you have had a cesarean section (C-section), you are not alone. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, 35% of births in Texas were C-sections. But just because you have had a C-section in the past, doesn’t mean it is your only option in the future. Today many women can undergo a VBAC, which stands for “vaginal birth after cesarean” and refers to giving birth through the vagina after a woman has already had a cesarean section.
However, there are many factors to weigh when considering a VBAC, and women who wish to attempt a VBAC must talk with their Women’s Health Texas ObGyn to see if they are a candidate. Here are some important facts to know if you are considering a VBAC.
Risks associated with VBACs:
- While this occurs less than 1% of the time, one risk with VBAC is that C-sections leaves a scar on the uterus, and the pressure from vaginal labor could cause the scar on the uterus to rupture. Hospitals must be equipped with a surgical and anesthesia team should an emergency C-section be needed.
- VBAC is not advised for women who have had any prior uterine ruptures or other abdominal scars.
Factors increasing the chance of a successful VBAC:
- Previous vaginal delivery
- Being younger than 35
- Natural versus induced labor
- Reason for previous C-section not likely to recur, such as breach (feet-down) presentation or fetal distress
- Prior C-section not done for stalled labor
- Low-transverse (side-to-side) incisions, which carry the least chance of rupture
Factors decreasing the chance of a successful VBAC:
- Being overweight
- Being older than 35
- Pregnancy beyond 40 weeks
- High birth weight of the baby (more than 9 lbs.)
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Short time span between pregnancies (fewer than 18 months)
- Multiple prior C-sections
- Prior C-section caused by difficult labor (dystocia)
- Chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure, that can affect vaginal birth
- A small pelvis that may not be able to handle vaginal birth
- High-vertical (up-and-down) incisions, which carry the most chance of rupture
Benefits of vaginal versus surgical birth:
- Faster recovery time
- Shorter hospital stay
- Prevention of potential surgery complications
- Reduced risk of complications associated with multiple C-sections, including hysterectomy and problems with the placenta
- Reduced chance for a blood transfusion
- Easier time with breastfeeding without an abdominal incision
At Women’s Health Texas, we are devoted to giving our patients the best care. If you are considering VBAC, please make an appointment to talk with your ObGyn, so together you can find the best birthing plan for you.