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Is Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Possible? | VBAC FAQs

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VBAC can be a very complicated process, but we’re here to help you come up with the right decision for childbirth.

In this article:

  1. Is Having a Vaginal Delivery Safe After a Cesarean Delivery?
  2. What Are the Conditions I Need to Meet to be Eligible for VBAC?
  3. What Are the Factors That May Disqualify You from VBAC?
  4. What Are the Benefits of VBAC?
  5. What Are the Risks of Undergoing VBAC?
  6. What Can I Do to Increase the Chances of a Successful VBAC?
  7. Do All Doctors and Hospitals Perform VBAC?
  8. What Questions to Ask a Doctor to Learn More?

Everything You Need to Know About VBAC

VBAC Definition: Short for vaginal birth after cesarean, it is the term used for trying a natural birth after a previous cesarean birth.

Is Having a Vaginal Delivery Safe After a Cesarean Delivery?

Ninety percent of women who had cesarean deliveries are viable candidates for VBAC. It’s important to discuss the matter with an experienced healthcare professional to assess your condition and allow you to make informed decisions about your health.

What Are the Conditions I Need to Meet to be Eligible for VBAC?

To be considered for vaginal birth both the mother and the baby must be healthy. The following VBAC criteria must be met to be eligible for the procedure:

  • A large enough pelvis for the baby to safely pass through
  • Previous cesarean incision is a low transverse uterine incision
  • Never experienced a uterine rupture
  • No extensive uterine surgery such as myomectomy
  • No medical or obstetric complication that may increase the risk of vaginal delivery
  • An anesthesiologist and additional medical personnel must be available for emergencies
  • A doctor capable of performing a c section and monitoring your baby must be on site

These are just some of the factors that determine if VBAC is for you. There may be other factors involved, which is why you need to consult with your doctor to help you through the process.

What Are the Factors That May Disqualify You from VBAC?

Symptoms of eclampsia during pregnancy | Is Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Possible? | VBAC FAQs

These are the following factors that may prevent you from doing a VBAC:

  • Old Age
  • Overweight
  • Pregnancy goes beyond 40 weeks in gestation
  • Big weight gain during the pregnancy
  • Has preeclampsia
  • Stalled labor
  • The baby is too heavy if the weight exceeds 8.8 pounds
  • A short gap between pregnancies – 18 months or less

Your medical practitioner can help you assess the risks and benefits of the procedure and determine if VBAC is right for you.

What Are the Benefits of VBAC?

This procedure removes the need for abdominal surgery and any risks it incurs. The risks of the cesarean procedure include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infections
  • Organ damage

All the risk factors from abdominal surgery can increase with each cesarean procedure because the scarring from each procedure can mean a more difficult procedure.

There is also the need for a longer hospital stay because of the cesarean procedure followed by a long and uncomfortable recovery period. The risks associated with the cesarean procedure as well as the longer hospital stay and lengthy recovery process make this option more desirable for most people.

RELATED: A Comprehensive Guide To Natural Birth

What Are the Risks of Undergoing VBAC?

The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists or ACOG states that women who have had a low transverse incision from their last cesarean operation have a low risk of 0.2 to 1.5% of uterine rupture during a vaginal delivery.

What is uterine rupture? This is a pregnancy complication where the uterus suffers tearing, prompting the uterus to be moved to the peritoneal cavity. This can occur in the latter part of the pregnancy or during active labor.

ACOG has stated that VBAC is safer than another cesarean procedure. A VBAC does not pose increased risks, even if the mother had multiple cesarean procedures already.

Please be aware that it’s important to consult with your doctor to discuss all the possible complications and risks of giving birth VBAC or otherwise.

What Can I Do to Increase the Chances of a Successful VBAC?

While most of the factors that lead to a successful VBAC are out of your hands, there are a few things you can do to increase your VBAC success rate.

  • Talk to your doctor and hospital about VBAC to find out if they’re comfortable doing the procedure. You also need an anesthesiologist to help with the procedure. Be sure all three entities are ok with doing the procedure.
  • Make sure the doctor has your complete medical history, especially the records of previous c-section/s and any uterine procedure you might have undergone.
  • The doctor can then use this data to calculate the odds of success.
  • It’s very important to do regular checkups with your doctor to check for risk factors.
  • Manage your weight. Losing 1 body mass index unit can increase the success rate of VBAC by 12%.
  • The chances of a successful VBAC are higher if you go into labor on your own instead of being induced.
  • Be sure to keep an open mind as circumstances can change and dictate the procedure is no longer viable.

Do All Doctors and Hospitals Perform VBAC?

There are doctors and hospitals that refuse to perform a VBAC because of its risks while some facilities aren’t equipped to handle it. A hospital must offer 24- hour obstetrician access as well as anesthesia coverage in the fully prepped delivery and labor unit to be adequate.

There is a possibility of being denied a VBAC because the hospital’s malpractice insurance doesn’t cover it.

What Questions to Ask a Doctor to Learn More?

There are plenty of important factors to consider for VBAC, but it’s important to ask the right questions to make informed decisions.

  • How does a cesarean or repeat cesarean procedure affect labor?
  • Are there specific factors that affect pregnancy that I need to be aware of?
  • What are the benefits and risks of following your recommendation?
  • What are the pros and cons of the other options?

Please note that it may be a good idea to consult another medical professional for a second opinion if you feel it’s necessary. When you’re content with your doctor’s answers, the final question to ask is: “Are you willing to do a VBAC?”

In this video, James Manley talks about his lecture of vaginal birth after cesarean courtesy of OB GYN To Go:

VBAC is usually the preferred option for most women because it has fewer risks than a c-section. It’s still important to note that VBAC is not risk-free and depending on some factors, it might not be a viable option for you.

Nothing beats being prepared for childbirth, so take the time to do the research and get as much information as you can.

What advice do you have for women who hope to try VBAC? Tell us in the comments section below!

Up Next: 11 Common Early Pregnancy Symptoms

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