The facts about vaginal birth after a C-section

It is possible to have a vaginal birth even though you had a C-section with your first baby. Here's what you need to know.

Things may not have turned out as expected with the birth of your first child. Planning for a vaginal birth and ending up needing a C-section can upset many new mothers. If you had to have a C-section, however, it does not automatically mean that you will need to have another with your subsequent babies.

ALSO SEE: Will I need a C-section?

The factors causing the need for a C-section in your first pregnancy my not be present in subsequent ones. A vaginal birth after a caesarean (VBAC) is a real option for many second-time moms. As the name explains, it is the option to deliver vaginally after a previous C-section.

What qualifies you for a VBAC?

  • In order to be a good VBAC candidate, you need to have had a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy.
  • Your baby needs to be in the vertex or head down position. Any other positions, such as a breech, will automatically take you out of the running.
  • You need to be fit and healthy with no major medical conditions. High-risk mothers with heart conditions, blood-pressure problems or diabetes, for example, are not viable candidates for a VBAC.
  • Your uterus should not have any additional scars, only a lower segment transverse C-section scar.
  • Labour needs to occur naturally. No induction can take place and the labour itself cannot be augmented in anyway. This means if you go over your due date nothing can be done to bring on labour and you will need to have another C-section.

ALSO SEE: 10 tips to help prevent a C-section

What are the risks?

There are associated risks for both mom and baby. Firstly, the mother runs the risk of rupturing her uterus. This is because there is a potential spot of weakness on the uterine wall where the previous C-section scar is. Most medical professionals will suggest at least 2 years between pregnancies if you are planning a VBAC. This allows sufficient healing time of the uterus.

There are also potential risks for the baby if the uterus ruptures. The baby could be deprived of oxygen. This is called an anoxic brain injury and can result in permanent disability or death.

What are the benefits?

Apart from having the opportunity to deliver your baby naturally, there are some other great benefits to opting for a VBAC.

  • Your recovery after a vaginal birth is much faster. In fact, you can get up and shower right away, which makes caring for your baby much easier.
  • You don’t have to recover from major surgery.
  • You are able to drive and lift your other child. This makes continuing with normal life when number 2 comes along much easier.
  • Your hospital stay is shorter, too, meaning fewer nights away from home and your firstborn.

So, in essence a VBAC is a trial of labour, a chance to see if you are able to deliver naturally. There are many benefits to delivering naturally. With good monitoring throughout your pregnancy and labour, the risk associated with VBACs can be greatly reduced. If you are interested in a VBAC, discuss this with your caregiver right from the start.

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