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Newborn babyNewborn baby

Vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC)

Vaginal birth after c-section is having your baby vaginally when you’ve had at least 1 baby by caesarean section (c-section).

After one c-section, about 3 out of 4 women with a straightforward pregnancy who go into labour naturally give birth vaginally.

You're more likely to have a successful vaginal birth for a number of reasons including:

  • previous vaginal birth
  • previous successful VBAC
  • your labour starting naturally
  • your body mass index (BMI) at booking being less than 30

If you would like a vaginal birth after c-section you should discuss this with your midwife.

Advantages of a successful VBAC

If you have a successful vaginal birth:

  • you will have a greater chance of a vaginal birth in future pregnancies
  • your recovery is likely to be quicker
  • your stay in hospital may be shorter
  • you are more likely to be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after birth and to be able to breastfeed successfully
  • you will avoid the risks of an operation
  • your baby will have less chance of initial breathing problems

Disadvantages of VBAC

There are some disadvantages including:

  • you have a slightly higher chance of needing a blood transfusion
  • the scar on your uterus may separate and / or tear (rupture)
  • you may need an assisted vaginal birth using ventouse or forceps
  • you may experience a tear involving the muscle that controls the anus or rectum
  • you may need to have an emergency caesarean section during labour

VBAC is normally an option for most women but it is not advisable if:

  • you have had three or more previous caesarean deliveries
  • your uterus has ruptured during a previous labour
  • your previous caesarean section was ‘classical’ for example where the incision involved the upper part of the uterus
  • you have other pregnancy complications that require a planned caesarean section

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