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VBAC: Risks and Benefits

What is VBAC?

A woman who has undergone a cesarean section may desire to deliver her next child vaginally. This is called VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean. WHASN’s physicians perform VBAC procedures.

What are the benefits of VBAC?

Successful, uncomplicated VBAC carries a lower risk to both mother and baby when compared to an elective C-section or a C-section done in labor. Additionally, vaginal deliveries have a significantly shorter recovery time. The average recovery time for a vaginal delivery is 48 hours while the average C-section recovery time is six weeks.

What are the risks of VBAC?

The main risk of VBAC is for a woman’s uterus to rupture where she had her previous C-section. This can lead to a hysterectomy, blood transfusion, fetal brain damage or fetal death. These are rare complications, but they can occur.

Is VBAC right for you?

Approximately 75 percent of women who attempt VBAC are successful. Discuss the following caveats with your doctor to determine if VBAC is right for you.

  • The patient must go into labor before 40 weeks.
  • No cervical ripening agents can be used to induce labor.
  • The patient will likely have her water broken early and will be monitored more carefully than someone who hasn’t had a C-section.
  • The patient will usually have internal monitoring of the fetus.
  • The patient must be at a facility with the ability to perform an emergency C-section.
  • Having an epidural in place is prudent so that the baby can be delivered quickly if an emergency arises.

You may not be able to attempt VBAC if:

  • you have a vertical incision on your uterus from your C-section.
  • you have had more than one C-section.
  • the baby is in breech position.