Some difficult deliveries call for a cesarean section (C-section), and if you’ve had one, you know the downside — painful surgery and a long recovery at a time when you want to devote all of your energy to your new baby.
If you’re hoping for a different experience during your next delivery, you should know that vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is not only possible; it has clear benefits, including:
Dr. Anju Nayar and our Nova Women’s Health team offer comprehensive prenatal care and obstetrics services to women throughout North Reading, Massachusetts, and we can help you prepare for a smooth VBAC delivery.
Here’s how to determine whether VBAC is right for you and, if so, what you can do to ready your body for a vaginal delivery.
Up to 80% of women who’ve opted for VBAC achieve their goal, but that doesn’t mean all women are eligible to try. Here are a few prerequisites for VBAC.
If your previous C-section used a low transverse incision, sometimes called a “bikini cut,” you may be a good candidate for VBAC. However, if you had a high vertical incision, the trial of labor (TOL) could rupture your uterus.
You need a strong, healthy uterus to get through a TOL, so if you’ve had a ruptured uterus in the past or any prior uterine surgeries to remove fibroids, for example, you may not be a good candidate for VBAC. More than two previous C-sections may disqualify you as well.
Although it’s not a requirement for VBAC, having delivered vaginally at least once increases your chances of a successful vaginal birth after a C-section. The timing also matters. It’s best to wait at least 18 months after a C-section to attempt VBAC.
Technically, a woman’s body knows what to do during delivery, but the first time always comes with a learning curve. Subsequent births generally tend to be shorter and smoother. If you’ve only had a C-section, you can expect VBAC to feel more like a first-timer’s experience; if you’ve had one or more vaginal deliveries, VBAC will feel familiar.
Either way, Dr. Nayar encourages all VBAC moms to take a few precautions to set the stage for a smooth vaginal delivery.
The more you know about your past deliveries and your health, the better equipped you are to participate in the critical decisions surrounding childbirth.
Dr. Nayar discusses these details with you and ensures that you know all of the risks and benefits of VBAC, but much depends on an accurate report of your health, your family’s medical history, and the circumstances surrounding your past C-section.
Bring records of your previous deliveries and any other uterine procedures to your first appointment with Dr. Nayar so she has all of the pertinent details.
And don’t settle for just handing over the reports; read them yourself and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Know why you needed a C-section — if it was failure to progress, fetal distress, an infectious disease, placenta previa, or some other reason, it may affect your eligibility for VBAC.
Our Nova Women’s Health team is here for you every step of the way, but it also helps to have support from other sources. Family and friends who understand your plan and encourage you to eat healthy and get plenty of safe exercise during your pregnancy are positive influences that can make a big difference in your VBAC delivery.
You can also find information and support from knowledgeable groups like the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN). The Massachusetts ICAN chapter offers rich resources and affinity groups that help you learn more about VBAC procedures.
Although most VBAC deliveries go as planned, some don’t. Dr. Nayar monitors you and your baby constantly through labor and delivery to ensure you’re both safe and healthy. If complications arise, it may be necessary to pivot and perform an emergency C-section.
Dr. Nayar understands, respects, and supports your decision to plan VBAC but prioritizes the health and safety of you and your baby. For this reason, she recommends planning on a hospital delivery regardless of how much you prep for VBAC.
To learn more, book an appointment online or call Nova Women’s Health in North Reading, Massachusetts, to discuss VBAC with Dr. Nayar.