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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).

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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