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A C-section is scary. You’re not able to give birth vaginally, and you’ll have a longer recovery time after delivery. The good news is that C-sections, or cesarean sections, are quite common and safely performed.
Vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC) has a lot of unknowns, and being informed before going to your medical professional is a wise choice for any expecting mother.
A few facts that you may not know about VBAC are:
1. VBAC is Safe for Most Women
You’ve had a C-section, and now you want to know if it’s safe to have a normal birth. Yes, for most women it’s possible to have a normal birth. But you may not be like most women, which obviously complicates matters slightly.
A doctor will go through the process with you to explain any risks you may be subjected to when having a normal birth.
2. An Emergency C-Section is Always Possible
Doctors will monitor the mother-to-be through the entire birthing process to ensure that she and the baby are in a healthy state. If there is something amiss during the birthing, the doctor will note signs of distress and may recommend an emergency C-section.
While this isn’t optimal for a mother trying to go through with a normal birth, it is a part of the birthing process every woman will go through.
3. Vaginal Birth Offers Many Benefits
Your body has prepared for a natural birth, but when something goes wrong, doctors intervene and change the course of nature. We’re not saying that a C-section is a bad thing, but it’s not natural and poses higher risks to the mother.
Albeit rather safe after years of perfecting the technique, a VBAC provides a plethora of benefits:
- You’ll spend less time in the hospital and will recover faster in the comfort of your own home.
- There’s a much lower risk of infection when you birth a child naturally.
- Pain after delivery is far less after a natural birth than it is through a Cesarean section.
- There is less risk of additional scarring via a natural birth.
Many women who opt for a C-Section often don’t know the lasting implications it has on the body. Since you’re being cut open, you’ll suffer from scar tissue and scarring on the uterus.
While this may not seem like a dire situation, the more scar tissue that’s present on the uterus, the greater risk the women is at having problems as she enters into the later stages of pregnancy in the future. There may be a lower chance of a natural birth when the scar tissue reaches high severity levels.
4. Scars May Open During Labor
Did you know that they call natural labor after a C-section trial of labor? This phrase seems rather impressive at first glance, and then you realize that it’s actually quite serious. When you’re in labor, there is a risk that your former C-Section scar can reopen during labor.
Imagine a poor mother-to-be dealing with her scar opening when trying to birth at home.
Yes, this is a very rare occurrence, and it’s highly unlikely that it will occur. But for the few women that this will happen to, this is very serious. The mother and child are both at risk if the scar tissue decides to reopen.
This is the main reason that a VBAC is so risky – you may die in the process.
If you plan to have a VBAC and have had a C-section in the past, you must go to the hospital. I am all for being a strong, independent woman going the all-natural birth route, but there is a small chance that you will die if the scar reopens.
It’s very scary and very serious.
It’s not worth the risk.
5. There are Factors to Judge if VBAC is Optimal for You
You need to meet certain requirements if you plan on giving VBAC. This means that you’ll need to be in tip top health, and you’ll also need to meet the following criteria:
- The C-Section incision is horizontal and was low-transverse.
- The pelvis has been measured and is large enough for a baby to pass through.
- Your uterine has never ruptured and you haven’t had uterine surgery.
- A doctor will be onsite and will monitor your birth, performing a C-Section if signs of distress are present.
- You don’t suffer from medical conditions that may hinder a natural birth.
Just like there are factors to decide when a person is a good candidate for VBAC, there are also factors that go against a woman at this time:
- Less than 18 months passed since you last gave birth.
- The baby is a high birth weight, which exceeds 8.8 pounds.
- You’re an older mom.
- You’re overweight.
If you’re older and overweight, your doctor may recommend exercise and nutrition assistance to ensure that you’re able to drop the pounds, regain your health and enhance your chances of a natural, non-complicated VBAC.
Uterine rupture is the biggest risk of VBAC, and this tearing of the scar tissue will require immediate, major surgery. The risks of infections and complications is much higher following any form of major surgery.
A transfusion or hysterectomy may be required in severe cases.
But every year, there are women that enjoy VBAC and go through the process with no harsh side effects.
Vaginal birth after a C-Section is possible, but if you can’t give birth naturally, it’s not the end of the world. The statistics show that 1-in-3 babies are delivered via a C-Section and the rate has risen dramatically in the last few decades.
In 1970, just 5% of babies were born using this technique.
There’s also a higher chance of needing to undergo a C-Section if you live in the United States compared to Finland, which has a lower rate of the procedure being performed. There are also rumors that doctors and hospitals perform this surgery for monetary gain rather than in the best interest of the mother and child.
The CDC states that in the United States in 2014, 2.69 million vaginal births occurred, while 1.28 million Cesarean deliveries were noted.