Is VBAC the Best Choice for You?

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After you have had a child via c-section, you may be wondering what options that you now have when it comes to having more children. While many people believe that once you have a C-section that all other births must be delivered by this method, this statement is not necessarily true.

In fact, there are many situations where women have had vaginal births after Cesarean or VBACs. Determining if this method is right for you takes time and thought and you should not make the decision lightly. It is one that should be made along with your partner and your doctor so that you can keep both you and your baby’s health in mind.

1. Why are vaginal births preferable?

When it comes to C-sections, there are many risks involved. For example, for the mother, the risk of death is more than 3 ½ times the rate of women who deliver vaginally. There are also twice as many complications when it comes to C-sections over vaginal deliveries as well as risks when it comes to surgeries, such as infections, bleeding issues, and increased recovery time.

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For the baby, there are risks involved regarding respiratory problems, asthma and childhood diabetes. These items increase in children who were delivered via C-section over vaginal births. Many believe that because of these risks, C-sections should be limited even if you have had a prior C-section.

2. Why do women have C-sections in the first place?

There are many of reasons that women wind up having a C-section. The majority of women have a C-section based on the fact that their labor does not progress. Another large section of women end up having a C-section because the heart rate of their baby is either too fast or too slow and when the baby is not positioned head down.

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Other reasons may be due to the mother’s request, preeclampsia, macrosomia, maternal fetal conditions, and multiple births. Research shows that most states in the United States have a C-section rate of around the 30% mark. This means that 30% of deliveries are via C-section.

3. Things to consider

One of the biggest things to consider is the cost of a C-section. A normal birth, has a cost of between $10,000 and $13,000 and can be far less if you rely on a birth center. However, when you have a C-section, this cost increases to between $17,000 and $23,000. With these numbers having multiple C-sections may be difficult for some women due to the costs of them.

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If you are looking to have a VBAC, you will need to check on this early on in your pregnancy. Many doctors and hospitals do not allow for these to occur because they have a fear of a malpractice suit. Not only does this work to increase the rates of C-sections, but it makes it more difficult for VBACS to occur.

4. Why should I choose a VBAC?

Many women can safely have a vaginal birth after having a C-section. If both you and your doctor agreed that a VBAC may work out for you, it is likely that you will go through a trial of labor after cesarean. This means that you will be allowed to go into labor and attempt to deliver vaginally.

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However, doctors will be prepared to administer a C-section as well. Approximately 4 out of every 10 women who have a trial of labor wind up needing a C-section instead. However a vaginal birth after having a C-section is a safe option for many women. Determining if this is the right method for you, depends on many things, such as why you had C-section before as well as how many C-sections you have had in the past.

5. Conclusion

When you are pregnant and you have had a C-section in the past, deciding how you will be giving birth is something that you should discuss with your doctor fairly early in your pregnancy. If you are interested in having a VBAC, you should find out quickly if this is an option that your doctor would provide.

It is likely that you can discuss this with your doctor on your first visit and learn more about the risks that are involved with your particular pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to compare your medical history and learn more about why you had a C-section in order to help you make this decision.

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Dr. Karen Leham, MD

Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.