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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Special Topics > Vaginal Birth After C-Section
      Category : Health Centers > Pregnancy and Childbirth

Vaginal Birth After C-Section

Alternate Names : Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section, VBAC

Vaginal birth after C-section, or VBAC, is vaginal delivery of a baby after the mother has previously had a child by C-section.

What is the information for this topic?

Many women choose to try a vaginal delivery even if they have had a C-section before. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, has given these guidelines for successful VBAC:

  • one or two C-sections in the past with a low-transverse incision, which is made across the lower part of the uterus
  • a pelvis large enough to allow the baby to pass through
  • no uterine scars or past uterine rupture
  • a physician who can monitor active labor and perform an emergency C-section if needed
  • anesthesia and staff as needed for an emergency C-section
  • There are several reasons to consider a vaginal birth after a previous C-section.

  • A C-section is major surgery. It may cause bleeding, infection, a tear in the uterine wall, or allergic reaction to anesthesia.
  • General anesthesia may be needed for a C-section. The mother may not be able to take part in the birth of her child.
  • The healing of a large abdominal incision can take weeks.
  • However, other risk factors with vaginal delivery may make a C-section preferable.

  • Some women fear labor pain during a vaginal delivery. There are many ways to ease the pain, but most pain medicines carry a small risk of side effects.
  • A woman with a small pelvis and a large baby could have problems with a vaginal delivery.
  • Twins or triplets may be in unusual positions in the uterus.
  • The baby may have a breech presentation, which means the feet or buttocks come out first.
  • The mother may have health problems, such as diabetes, preeclampsia, high blood pressure, or severe heart disease.
  • A new study has shown that the risk of rupturing the uterus during vaginal birth is more than three times higher among women who have had a C-section than those who have not. If labor is induced with medicines, the rate can increase 4.9 to 15 times higher. However, the overall risk of uterine rupture is still very low. In the study, only roughly 90 women out of more than 20,000 VBAC mothers had a uterine rupture. This is well below 1%.

    A woman should discuss her VBAC risk factors with her healthcare provider during prenatal visits.

    Author: Eva Martin, MD
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 07/09/01

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