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Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) - What to Think About

Any woman in labor—not just one attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)—might have complications during childbirth that require a cesarean section delivery.

If there is no medical reason for a cesarean, vaginal delivery is generally a safe option for both mother and baby. It is common, though, to fear going through labor after having had a cesarean delivery. This is especially true for women who have tried a vaginal birth but, after a long and difficult labor, ended up delivering by cesarean.

The ultimate decision to try a vaginal birth is made by you and your doctor. If you want to try a VBAC but your doctor is not in favor of your choice and does not have a clear reason, consider getting a second opinion.

If you are considering VBAC, talk with your doctor about:

  • The risks of vaginal and cesarean deliveries in your case. Here are some points to keep in mind:
    • Serious complications with either vaginal or cesarean births are uncommon.
    • A cesarean section is a surgical procedure and requires the use of anesthesia. Any surgery carries a risk of infection, excessive blood loss, and problems caused by the anesthesia.
    • Women who need a cesarean after a trial of labor have a higher rate of infection than those who have a cesarean without a trial of labor.
  • Whether your doctor will be available in the hospital throughout your labor and whether the hospital has facilities for an emergency cesarean delivery.
  • The possibility that a trial of labor may end in cesarean delivery.
  • How and at what point during labor the decision is made to do a repeat cesarean.
  • Which types of pain medicine or anesthesia you may use during labor and delivery or during a cesarean.
  • Your specific risk factors for uterine rupture during VBAC and the possible complications of a rupture, such as removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 29, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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