I had a C-section with my first child. Now that I'm pregnant with my second, I'd really like to try to have a vaginal delivery. But is that safefor me and my baby?
Danae

Many women who have had a cesarean section (or C-section) with their first pregnancy are interested in a vaginal delivery for their second or later births. For years, women who'd had a C-section were encouraged to skip vaginal deliveries altogether and schedule C-sections for all future births.

But these days, a vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC) is considered a safe option for many women and their babies. And, with a vaginal delivery, you can come home sooner and recover quicker.

The reason for your first C-section, the type of incision made on your uterus, and other factors in your medical history will determine whether or not you can have a VBAC:

  • A transverse incision (also known as a horizontal incision) cuts across the lower, thinner part of the uterus. It is used during most C-sections and makes a VBAC much more likely.
  • A vertical incision cuts up and down through the uterine muscles that strongly contract during labor, and is riskier for a VBAC because it might cause uterine rupture (a tear in the uterine muscle).

The incision on your skin does not necessarily go in the same direction as the incision on your uterus. Also, if you've had more than one C-section, a VBAC might not be an option.

Of course, not all women who try to have a VBAC succeed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that about 60% to 80% of women who try to have a VBAC succeed.

Although a VBAC does come with risks, many women are able to have one with no complications at all. If you're interested in having a VBAC, talk to your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits. And check with your hospital well in advance to make sure they'll allow it — if they don't and you have your heart set on a vaginal birth, you may need to change hospitals.

Back to Articles


Related Articles

Pregnancy & Newborn Center

Advice and information for expectant and new parents.

Read More

Epidurals

Epidurals can make giving birth more calm, controlled, and comfortable. Find out more.

Read More

Natural Childbirth

Some women choose to give birth using no medications at all, relying instead on relaxation techniques and controlled breathing for pain. Get more information on natural childbirth.

Read More

Cesarean Sections (C-Sections)

Many babies are delivered via cesarean sections. Learn why and how C-sections are done.

Read More

Birthing Centers and Hospital Maternity Services

Where you choose to give birth is an important decision. Is a hospital or a birth center right for you? Knowing the facts can help you make your decision.

Read More

Recovering From Delivery

After giving birth, you'll notice you've changed somewhat - both physically and emotionally. Here's what to expect after labor and delivery.

Read More

Can I Request to Have a C-Section?

Find out what the experts have to say.

Read More

Birth Plans

The reality of labor and birth may seem extremely far off - but now's the time to start planning for your baby by creating a birth plan that details your wishes.

Read More

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.

Search our entire site.