If you’ve had a baby via C-section and are looking at your options for your next delivery, you may have considered vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC). This option is attractive to many mothers who want to avoid another abdominal surgery. Only a qualified OB/GYN can determine if this option is right for you. Read on to learn more about this type of delivery and to find out if you might be a candidate for it.
What is VBAC?
If you’ve had a baby with a Cesarean section, you have two options for how you can deliver your next baby. You can choose to schedule another C-section or you can attempt to have the baby vaginally. This is known as vaginal birth after cesarean, which is more commonly referred to as VBAC. The attempt to have a VBAC is called a trial of labor after cesarean delivery (TOLAC). If a TOLAC is successful, it results in a vaginal birth. If it is not successful, a C-section is necessary.
Many women want a TOLAC or vaginal birth after cesarean because there are several benefits when compared to another C-section.
- No abdominal surgery: A cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery that takes about 6 weeks of recovery. While C-sections are generally very safe, any surgery carries risks of potential complications.
- You can use a birth plan: If you have a vaginal birth rather than a C-section you can have more control over your labor and delivery experience.
- Lower risk of infection: Your risk of developing an infection after vaginal birth is lower than your risk after a C-section.
- Less blood loss: Surgeries like C-sections generally have a higher risk of blood loss than vaginal birth.
- Shorter recovery period: The recovery time after vaginal birth is generally shorter and requires less bed rest than the recovery period following abdominal surgery.
- Less chance of future C-Sections: If you have multiple C-sections, your chances of needing a scheduled cesarean for a future pregnancy increase.
While there are many benefits to vaginal birth after cesarean, there are some risks as well. You need to talk to your doctor about what type of birth is best for you based on your history and other factors. In rare cases, there is a risk that the cesarean scar on the uterus may rupture. This is very rare but can be very serious and puts the mother and the baby in danger.
Am I a Candidate for VBAC?
Only you and your doctor can determine whether or not you are a good candidate for TOLAC based on your current health and your health history. However, you can get an idea of whether or not you might be able to attempt VBAC by taking a look at the general guidelines below.
You might be a good candidate for VBAC if you meet the following criteria:
- You are pregnant with only one baby
- You have had a vaginal birth before
- You’ve had 1 or 2 previous C-sections with low transverse incisions
- Your prior C-section was done with a low transverse incision and not a low vertical incision or a high vertical incision.
- You have never had a uterine rupture and are not at risk of having one
- Any past surgeries involving the uterus (such as procedures to remove fibroids) were not extensive or invasive
- Your doctor determines you do not have any problems that would prevent or complicate a vaginal birth after cesarean
- You have access to a doctor on-site who can monitor your labor and perform an emergency C-section if necessary
- Other doctors, medical personnel, and equipment necessary for an emergency C-section must be available
If you are a candidate for TOLAC, you have a high chance of having a successful vaginal delivery. According to the March of Dimes, more than 70% of women who try a VBAC are successful in having their babies vaginally.
Your chances of having a successful VBAC decrease if one or more of the following are true:
- You are pregnant with more than one baby
- You have gone beyond 40 weeks of gestation
- You require labor induction
- Your labor has stalled
- Your baby has a high estimated birth weight
- Generally over 8.8 lbs or 4 kg
- You are overweight or obese
- There were fewer than 19 months between your last pregnancy and your current pregnancy
- You have a high vertical uterine incision
- You’ve had a prior uterine rupture
- You are 35 or older
Consult an OB/GYN
Green Valley OB/GYN has been providing the highest quality of obstetric and gynecological care for over 70 years. We offer a comprehensive list of services, including vaginal birth after cesarean. To set up an appointment to talk to a doctor about whether you are a good candidate for VBAC, call us at (336) 378-1110 to schedule an appointment.