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Know the Facts: VBACs and Repeat C-Sections

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VBAC is a term that means vaginal birth after cesarean. In the past, best practices dictated that once a woman had a cesarean section, a repeat c-section was the only option for subsequent births. Due to recent recommendations by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), VBACs are becoming much more common. For most women, VBACs can even be the better choice for their health and the health of their baby.

Benefits of having a VBAC include lower risk of infection, shorter hospital stays, the opportunity for more mother-baby contact post birth, less risk of emotional issues post-labor and greater ease of breastfeeding. There can also be benefits for the baby and subsequent children that the mother may have.

VBAC is not right for everyone. Some factors to consider are the age and health of the mother, the anticipated birth weight of the baby, time between pregnancies, the type of incision from the previous c-section and the presence of certain conditions such as preeclampsia.

As with any pregnancy or birth, there are risks associated with VBAC, such as infection or hemorrhage. The mother has a 1-2% chance of uterine rupture, meaning that the scar on the mother’s uterus from a previous c-section opens during labor. Conversely, there are also risks associated with a repeat c-section.

All expectant parents should have a conversation with their healthcare provider before making a decision. Be sure to prepare for your visit by researching options and preparing questions ahead of time. Also, be aware that there are still some providers that do not offer VBACs and you may need to shop around to find the right doctor for you.

For More Information:

National Institutes of Health

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Academy of Family Physicians


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