Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) - Risks of VBAC and Cesarean Deliveries
deliver vaginally or by cesarean section, you are unlikely to have serious
complications. Overall, a routine vaginal delivery is less risky than a routine
cesarean, which is a major surgery. But a pregnant woman who has a cesarean scar
on the uterus has a slight risk of the scar breaking open during labor. This
is called uterine rupture.
Although rare, uterine rupture can be
life-threatening for both mother and baby. So women with risk factors for
uterine rupture should not attempt a
vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
Risks of VBAC
The risks of VBAC include:
Problems during labor that result in a cesarean delivery. This occurs with about 20 to 40 out of 100 women who try VBAC. But
it doesn't happen with 60 to 80 out of 100 women who try VBAC.1
- Rupture of the scar on the uterus, which is rare
but can be deadly to the mother and baby. A
vertical incision used in a past C-section, use of certain medicines to start (induce) labor, and many scars on the uterus from past C-sections or other surgeries are some of
the things that can increase the chance of a rupture.
The chance of infection. Women who have a trial of labor and
end up having a C-section have a higher risk of infection. This means that the
risk of infection is lower after vaginal births and after planned cesareans.3
Risks of any cesarean
The risks of cesarean
- Blood loss that
- Genital or urinary
- Blood clots.
- Risks from
- A longer recovery time.
- Injury to the baby during the delivery. The injury usually isn't
- Breathing problems (respiratory distress syndrome) for the baby after birth if the due date has been
miscalculated and a cesarean is done before the baby's lungs are fully
Future risks. If you
are planning to get pregnant again, it's important to think about scarring.
After you have two C-section scars, each added scar in the uterus raises the
placenta problems in a later pregnancy. These problems
placenta previa and
placenta accreta, which raise the risk of problems for
the baby and your risk of needing a
hysterectomy to stop bleeding.
For more information about cesarean risks, see