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Birth & More | Birth Options

What is a VBAC?

VBAC stands for vaginal birth after caesarean section. It’s the term used when you give birth vaginally, having had at least one baby born by caesarean section.

If you are expecting again and want to try and go for a VBAC, consult with your doctor. You may be a good candidate for a VBAC. The only way to know for certain, is to speak with your doctor about your options. Your doctor will monitor your pregnancy closely so they will be able to advise what is best for you and your baby. Talk through all of the positive and negative aspects of a VBAC with your doctor when deciding to chose this option.

How does a VBAC differ from a normal vaginal delivery?

The main difference is how often and how closely your labour will be monitored. You’ll be offered continuous electronic fetal monitoring. You will need to measure your baby’s heart rate and your contractions at all times.

Many women have a successful VBAC without any complications at all. But there is a very small risk that the scar from your previous caesarean could tear. This is called uterine rupture.

A uterine rupture is a tear in the wall of the uterus, most often at the site of a previous c-section incision. In a complete rupture, the tear goes through all layers of the uterine wall and the consequences can be dire for mother and baby.

As scary and risky as this all sounds, fortunately these ruptures are relatively uncommon. Although the risk is small, your medical team will want to monitor you for it. During a VBAC you can have an epidural for pain relief if you want one.
What are the risks of VBAC?

The most serious risk of a VBAC is that a C-section scar could come open during labor, although this is very rare. But when it does happen, it can be very serious for both the mother and the baby. VBAC is often only offered by hospitals that can do a rapid emergency C-section.

What’s the alternative to a VBAC?

The other option when you’ve had a caesarean is to have an elective caesarean. This is usually booked one to two weeks before your due date, unless your baby needs to be born sooner for a medical reason.

What are the advantages of a VBAC?

  • The main advantage is that you have a vaginal birth and avoid the risks of caesarean birth.
  • Less pain after delivery.
  • Fewer days in the hospital and a shorter recovery at home.
  • A more active role for you and your birthing partner in the birth of your child.

What are the disadvantages of a VBAC?

The disadvantages of VBAC are generally the same as with any vaginal birth.

  • Pain from bruising
  • Pain from possibly having an episiotomy.
  • In the long term, vaginal birth may slightly increase the risk of your uterus slipping into your vagina (prolapse).
  • Pregnancy itself can weaken your pelvic floor. This can lead to problems such as incontinence in later life.

Take time to decide about the birth. It’s a highly individual decision. Talk to your doctor about your previous birth or births. This will help you come to a decision about how to have your baby this time around.

All the best.

 

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