What’s all the Buzz about Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC)?

May 17, 2013

Vaginal Birth after Cesarean (VBAC) is a delivery option for women who have had a Cesarean section delivery in the past.  VBAC means giving birth vaginally instead of having a repeat Cesarean section.  Years ago, Cesarean sections were routinely followed by more Cesarean sections; vaginal delivery was rarely an option.  

In the past several years, Cesarean section rates have gone up dramatically, and currently about one in every three deliveries in theUnited Statesis a Cesarean section.  Many mothers who have had Cesarean sections would prefer to deliver vaginally in the future if possible and VBAC is encouraged by the medical community for its health benefits, so with the high number of Cesarean section deliveries, VBAC has become a hot topic.

Is VBAC an option for me?

VBAC is an option for many women who have had Cesarean sections.  TheAmericanCollegeof Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that women who have had one Cesarean section with a low-transverse incision are generally candidates for VBAC and their doctors should discuss VBAC with them.  Other women may be candidates as well. Your doctor will look at your specific medical history and current medical conditions to decide whether you are able to attempt a VBAC delivery.

What are some reasons I should consider VBAC for my next delivery?

  • Avoiding a major surgery
  • Less likely to experience any type of infection
  • Shorter recovery time / shorter hospital stay

What are some situations where VBAC would not be optimal?

There are a few situations in which VBAC may not be the best option.  For instance, if you are pregnant with twins or have diabetes, VBAC is likely not the best delivery method.  VBAC is not performed on women who have had “classical” Cesarean section incisions, have previously had uterine rupture, or who have had three or more previous Cesarean sections.

It’s important to remember that no labor or delivery is risk free.  Weigh the risks of VBAC delivery against the benefits before you decide whether or not to attempt VBAC.  Your doctor will help guide you to make the best decision for you and your baby.

What should I expect when it’s time to deliver?

The process is often much like any other vaginal delivery.  You will head to the hospital when it’s time, and your labor will be monitored electronically.  You can expect to be monitored more closely than someone having a regular vaginal delivery.  As with all vaginal deliveries, however, sometimes the circumstances ultimately require a Cesarean section.  While VBAC is often successful, it’s good to be mentally and emotionally prepared for both possibilities. 

If you’re pregnant and have had a previous Cesarean section, be sure to talk to your doctor about the possibility of VBAC.  Your doctor can help you understand whether or not you are a candidate and can answer any questions you have about this type of delivery.