What Are The Risks Of A Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)?


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Do you already have a child born through a C-section? Are you keen for vaginal birth this time? Are you worried that your previous cesarean delivery can make a vaginal birth risky?

Do not worry! Vaginal delivery after a prior C-section is possible. If you are keen to go for vaginal birth after your cesarean but are still clueless, read this article and get all the information related to it.

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean:

VBAC is an abbreviation for a vaginal birth after cesarean. Unlike popular belief, it is possible to have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery. The way your pregnancy is progressing will help your doctor determine whether you can have a vaginal birth this time round. If your doctor feels that the reasons for your previous cesarean delivery will not occur this time, she may give you permission to opt for a vaginal birth (1).

In some cases, your doctor may reject the option of a vaginal birth post-cesarean delivery right from the start. It could be because of the following resources:

  • If your doctor feels that your health and your baby’s progress may not permit vaginal birth.
  • In some cases, the hospital may not have the necessary staff or resources to handle an emergency cesarean delivery.
  • If your baby is unusually large, a vaginal birth is ruled out.
  • If your pregnancy continues beyond your due date, your chances of a vaginal birth will be significantly lower.
  • If you have had multiple cesarean deliveries and no vaginal birth in the past, your doctor may reject the option of a vaginal birth.

[ Read: Cervix During Birth ]

Why Do Women Opt For A Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)?

Many women opt for a VBAC due to various reasons:

  • A vaginal birth has a shorter recovery time so you can get back on your feet to take care of your newborn sooner.
  • It is economical.
  • It significantly reduces your chances of contracting an infection or losing too much blood.
  • If you want to have more kids after this pregnancy, a vaginal birth this time will reduce any complications in later pregnancies.

How Can My Chances Of Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) Be Higher?

Your chances of a vaginal birth after cesarean will be higher if:

  • You had only one low transverse uterine incision (this is the most common incision for a cesarean) (2).
  • Your current pregnancy does not have any complications unlike the previous one that required a cesarean.
  • Your labor begins naturally on or before your expected due date.
  • You had a successful vaginal birth prior to this pregnancy.

Preparing For (VBAC):

The first step will be to sit and discuss with your doctor the many changes a vaginal birth may require. If you had opted for a cesarean operation in your previous delivery, you might not have gone through the otherwise normal stages of labor.

If you are planning to go for a vaginal birth this time, your doctor and you will have a trial of labor after cesarean or TOLAC. It essentially means that you decide to go into labor in order to have a vaginal birth after consulting your gynecologist. While you and your doctor may both work towards it, it is important to know that last minute health and safety issues may still cesarean delivery imminent (3).

[ Read: Breathing Techniques During Labour ]

Will A Trial Of Labor After Cesarean (TOLAC) Be Safe For Me?

If your health is fine and your pregnancy is progressing normally, preparing for a trial of labor after cesarean should be safe. Your doctor will look into your previous pregnancy records to understand what made it compulsory for you to go for a cesarean birth. Your doctor will then analyze whether or not these conditions can arise in your current pregnancy. Evaluating your chances of a vaginal birth also depends upon how many cesarean deliveries you have had previously.

Once your doctor gives you the go- ahead for a vaginal birth after cesarean, she will keep you under observation. Remember that at any point if your baby or you show any signs of distress, your doctor may perform an emergency cesarean delivery.

What Are The Risks Of A (VBAC)?

Various risk factors accompany a vaginal birth after cesarean:

1. Failed Labor: 

In almost 25 percent women who opt for a vaginal birth after cesarean, the baby is not able to tolerate the labor. This results in an emergency cesarean delivery.

2. Risk Of Uterine Infection: 

An emergency cesarean birth is riskier than a planned cesarean as there are higher chances of developing cesarean birth complications like uterine infection.

3. Uterus Rupture:

Let your labor begin naturally. Medication can sometimes bring on powerful contractions that may contribute to uterine rupture. It is not common for the uterus to tear along the scar you have from your previous cesarean delivery. However, in case your uterus ruptures before or during labor, you will need to go for an emergency cesarean. It is critical to go for it to prevent any life-threatening complications like loss of blood or infection or brain damage to your baby. Most medical facilities are equipped to take care of these situations effectively, without putting your baby or you in any risk. However, your doctor may go for uterus removal or hysterectomy if your bleeding does not stop (4).

[ Read: Contribute To Uterine Rupture ]

4. Problems Of The Pelvic Floor:

Your pelvic floor supports your uterus. Sometimes, the weight and pressure of your pregnancy can weaken the muscles of your pelvic floor. A vaginal birth can stretch these pelvic floor muscles even further. It can cause temporary urinary incontinence, especially if you go on to give birth vaginally (5).

It is possible to have a safe and successful VBAC. Speak to your doctor and know more about how to have a successful vbac. Choose a medical facility that is well equipped to handle emergency cesarean births. The medical center should have facilities for continuous fetal monitoring, to provide anesthetics and blood transfusions 24 hours a day and an emergency surgical team. Even though you may be all set, an emergency cesarean is sometimes unavoidable. Try your best until the big day and be mentally and physically prepared. Here is wishing you luck!

If you have opted for a vaginal birth after your C-section, please share your experience with us.

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