VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. Years ago, if a woman delivered a baby via C-section she lost all hope of a future vaginal delivery. But today, that is not the case for all women. Thanks mostly to changes in surgical technique, almost 75 percent of women who try a vaginal delivery have a successful VBAC. Not all women, or all circumstances, are considered right for a VBAC. Your doctor and the hospital where you will deliver will help to determine your options for delivery.
Women and their doctors consider VBAC for multiple reasons. First and foremost, a C-section is a major surgery and if it can be avoided, it is encouraged. There are fewer complications associated with a vaginal birth than with a C-section. Second, women have a shorter hospital stay with a vaginal birth and are able to return to normal (physically) after a vaginal birth than with a surgical birth. Third, women are allowed to have more participation in the birth of their baby with a vaginal delivery. With most vaginal deliveries, women are able to hold and breast feed their babies much sooner than with a C-section. Fourth, vaginal deliveries are a better option for women who desire to have a large family. Many doctors will only repeat a certain number of subsequent C-sections (3 is the recommended number) because repeat C-sections get more complicated each time.
Women who choose VBAC will undergo the same prenatal care as they have received through any previous healthy pregnancy. Once labor begins they will be closely monitored and more precautions will be taken – called “trial of labor.” Women will be asked to report to the hospital immediately once their water has broken or continuous contractions begin. Laboring at home is not recommended for VBAC candidates. A medical team will keep a close eye on the baby’s heart beat and check to make sure labor is progressing normally. Doctors are less tolerant of any abnormal labor patterns with a VBAC due to an increased risk of uterine rupture. Therefore, a woman needs to be mentally and emotionally prepared for a repeat C-section if the doctor feels that the baby isn’t tolerating labor or the labor becomes difficult.
The ultimate goal is to have a heathy baby. Therefore, doctors will make the decision that is best for both the mother and the baby during labor.
Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates
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