vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC)

Yadhira had a successful vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Many women who have had a prior cesarean and now want to give birth through a vaginal delivery have the option of doing just that. Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) has many benefits, including a much faster recovery after delivery, lower rate of complications, and less risk during future pregnancies.

“VBAC is an excellent choice for many women,” says Dr. Katherine Economy, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). “Between 60 and 80 percent of women who attempt VBAC are successful, while the remaining 20 to 40 percent have cesarean delivery. Successful VBAC usually involves a number of factors.”

The best candidates for VBAC are women who have had a prior vaginal delivery, have spontaneous (non-induced) labor, and don’t have prior conditions that are likely to recur, such as labor that fails to progress or delivery of a large baby. Induced labor doesn’t mean that VBAC is impossible, but it is associated with a slightly lower success rate. Also, some medications used to induce labor cannot be used during VBAC.

VBAC is not an option for women who have had vertical incision with prior cesarean delivery or have had prior uterine surgery. VBAC also carries a small risk of rupture, where there is separation along the scar from a prior cesarean. In these cases, emergency cesarean delivery is performed.

“It is very important when considering VBAC to deliver your baby in a hospital with vast experience in emergency cesarean deliveries,” explains Dr. Economy. “These are typically hospitals that perform many deliveries each year and have specialists in high-risk pregnancy and delivery.

For more information on VBAC, talk with your doctor and visit our webpage on VBAC.

– Jessica F.

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