Skip to content

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Are Repeat C-Sections Safer Than Natural Birth?

Natural Birth After a C-Section Shown to Be Slightly Riskier Than Repeat Surgery, but Complication Rate Low for Both

Uterine Rupture Linked to Repeat C-Section

In a related study, researchers in the U.K. found that repeat C-sections raised the risk for uterine rupture, a rare but very serious pregnancy complication.

Risk was highest among women who had two or more prior C-sections and those who had repeat C-sections less than 12 months after the last C-section.

Of the 159 uterine ruptures identified in the study, 139 occurred among women who had previously had a C-section.

Both studies appear in the March issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.

Ob-gyn professor F. Gary Cunningham, MD, says while the risks are small, no method of childbirth is risk-free. Cunningham is a distinguished chair in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

In 2010, he chaired a panel of experts convened by the National Institutes of Health to explore the reasons for the decline in VBAC deliveries in the U.S.

In the mid-1990s, about 1 in 4 deliveries following a C-section were vaginal, compared to around 1 in 10 today, Cunningham tells WebMD.

The panel concluded that VBAC was a safe alternative to repeat C-section for women who had had a single C-section delivery.

“No matter what delivery method is used, there are going to be some rare bad outcomes,” Cunningham says. “But if a woman knows the risks and is a candidate for a trial of labor, she should be able to have one.”

1 | 2

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy