February 10, 2017

Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) – How to Determine If It’s Right for You

shutterstock-pregnant-baby-shoesIf your last childbirth experience was a cesarean birth, you may already be thinking about your birth plan for your next child. Here’s how to determine if a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is a good option.

While having a vaginal birth after a C-section can be a safe option, it is not for all patients. “It is important to talk with your OB provider about your pregnancy history in detail,” explained Elizabeth England, MD, an OB-GYN at Mission Women’s Care in Sylva. Your physician will consider all the circumstances surrounding your prior cesarean section as they consider the risks and benefits of a VBAC for your delivery, she explained.

Additionally, patients should consider how many children they desire. “In general, we recommend no more than three cesarean sections in a lifetime,” said Dr. England. So if you are planning to have a large family, it may be important to consider a VBAC rather than a scheduled repeat cesarean section, she explained.

VBAC Advantages

For the right patient and in the right circumstances, a VBAC is an excellent option. “There is nothing better than a successful VBAC,” said Dr. England. “The patient goes home in a day or two with no surgical incision. They are back to their normal routine faster. As a new mom, having an incision to heal from in addition to all of the sleepless nights with a new baby can be rough. There is also typically less blood loss during delivery and the recovery period is much shorter.”

Know the Risks

VBACs do carry some risk. “The most significant of those risks is a uterine rupture, which is less than 1 percent if you have only had one cesarean in the past,” said Dr. England. While rare, a uterine rupture is a very serious obstetric emergency and can put both the mom and baby’s lives in danger. Some hospitals do not offer VBACs for this reason. If you are considering a VBAC, it is imperative to work with a hospital that has the proper equipment and personnel to handle an obstetric emergency. VBACs are very common at Mission Hospital. “I would estimate that Mission Hospital has close to one a week, if not more,” added Dr. England.

If you’re considering a VBAC, it’s important to review all of your medical history with your medical provider. They can help you determine if you are a good candidate for this type of delivery.


Elizabeth England, MD, is an OB-GYN at Mission Women’s Care – Sylva. (828) 586-6990