What You Need to Know About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)

pregnant woman playing and hugging with her second baby

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) is a topic of considerable significance in obstetrics, offering women who have previously undergone cesarean deliveries the opportunity to attempt a vaginal birth for subsequent pregnancies. Understanding the nuances, risks and benefits associated with VBAC is crucial for expectant mothers considering their birthing options. At Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., our obstetricians work with our patients considering VBAC to determine whether this option is appropriate for them during their next pregnancy. Here are some of the factors you need to consider about VBAC.

1. Definition and Eligibility

VBAC refers to the vaginal delivery of a baby after a previous cesarean birth. Not all women who have had a C-section are eligible for VBAC. Factors such as the reason for the previous C-section, the type of uterine incision made during the surgery and the woman’s current health and pregnancy status determine eligibility.

2. Success Rates and Risks

The success rate of VBAC varies among women and depends on various factors, such as the reason for the previous C-section, the number of previous C-sections, maternal age, and overall health. While VBAC can be successful for many women, there are risks involved, including uterine rupture, which is a rare but serious complication that can endanger both the mother and the baby.

3. Care Provider and Hospital Policies

Choosing a care provider and hospital that supports VBAC is essential. Some healthcare providers and hospitals have strict policies regarding VBAC, while others, like our obstetricians at Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., are more supportive and experienced in managing VBAC deliveries. It is crucial to discuss VBAC options with your healthcare provider early in pregnancy and ensure they align with your preferences and medical needs.

4. Monitoring and Preparation

Women attempting VBAC typically undergo close monitoring throughout pregnancy and labor to assess the safety and progress of the delivery. This may include regular prenatal check-ups, fetal monitoring during labor and readiness for emergency interventions if necessary. Adequate preparation, including understanding the signs of uterine rupture and having a clear birth plan, is essential for a successful VBAC.

5. Benefits

For eligible women, VBAC offers several potential benefits compared to repeat C-sections, including shorter recovery time, reduced risk of surgical complications and the opportunity for a more natural birthing experience. VBAC may also decrease the risk of complications in future pregnancies and deliveries.

6. Emotional Considerations

Choosing between VBAC and repeat C-sections can be emotionally challenging for many women. It is essential to explore your feelings, concerns and preferences with your healthcare provider, partner, and support network. Education, counseling and access to resources can help women navigate the decision-making process and feel empowered in their childbirth choices.

7. Postpartum Care

Regardless of the mode of delivery, postpartum care is crucial for maternal and infant health. Women who have undergone VBAC may have unique recovery needs compared to those who have had a repeat C-section or vaginal delivery. Access to postpartum support, including lactation support, physical therapy and mental health services, can facilitate a smooth transition to motherhood after VBAC.

VBAC is a viable option for many women with a history of cesarean birth, but it requires careful consideration, planning and support from healthcare providers and loved ones. By understanding the risks, benefits, and factors influencing VBAC success, women can make informed decisions that prioritize their health and the well-being of their babies. To learn more about VBAC and whether it may be right for you during your next pregnancy, contact our team at Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A. to schedule a consultation.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.