We are so thankful that our partner, Dr. Jeremiah McNamara has shared this information about the benefits and possibility of VBAC with our community!
While some C-sections are planned for various medical reasons and others are unexpected and occur during what began as a normally progressing labor, the cesarean section rate in the United States remains around 30 percent.
One reason many women are so saddened by the fact that they had to have a C-section is the common misconception that once you deliver by cesarean, you must then have C-sections with all subsequent children. As I always tell my patients, each woman’s case is unique, and it is important to educate yourself on your options.
Can You Give Birth Vaginally After Having a C-section?
If you’ve had a C-section before, you may be wondering if you will be able to deliver your next baby vaginally. The good news is, vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) is very much an option and one that many OB/GYNs, including myself, encourage our patients to consider.
The decision to have a VBAC is a complex one and one that we often discuss with our patients over many visits, carefully balancing risks and benefits so that both mom and baby stay healthy and safe.
What Are the Benefits to VBAC?
With VBAC, Mom – you get to avoid another surgery and the risks that go along with any major operation. Vaginal deliveries often have a quicker and easier recovery after child-birth, so you will likely be able to comfortably return to normal activities at a much quicker rate.
If you are hoping for a large family, you can still certainly go on to have more vaginal deliveries. In fact, if you don’t attempt vaginal delivery and want to deliver all babies via C-section, surgical risks increase with each subsequent procedure because the potential build-up of scar tissue.
For your baby, the benefits of VBAC center largely around data that suggests babies born vaginally may benefit from the squeeze that they get when passing through the birth canal, as it may help remove additional fluid from the lungs so your child has less trouble breathing once doing so on his or her own.
Other data also suggests there may be an immunologic benefit to babies born vaginally because they are exposed to a unique variety of bacteria in the vagina that begins to train their young immune system. Many believe that the intimate experience of a vaginal delivery also facilitates early bonding of mom and baby, early initiation of breast feeding and other important bonding experiences.
Find the Solution That Fits for You
As with any birthing decision, it’s also important to take the risks into consideration. The scar on the uterus from your first C-section may weaken and even open up with the contractions and pushing that go along with attempting vaginal delivery. This occurs very rarely; but it’s an important consideration, because when it does happen it can be very dangerous for both mother and baby and require an emergency C-section.
Some women are better candidates for VBAC than others. If the reason you had to have a C-section with your first pregnancy is likely to repeat itself (for example, a normal-sized baby had trouble fitting through the pelvis), then the chances of ultimately needing a C-section again are high. On the other hand, if you had to have your first C-section because your baby was breech and this child is not, then you have essentially the same good chance of a successful vaginal delivery as everyone else.
This can feel like a challenging decision for some moms, and I always stress that either decision is perfectly fine in this situation as long as you and your doctor have weighed your options. What is most important is that your birth experience is one with which you feel most comfortable.
Dr. Jeremiah McNamara is an OB/GYN provider at the OB/GYN Center, and specializes in obstetrics and minimally invasive surgery. He has a passion for delivering personalized, quality care for women across the many phases of their reproductive lives. An avid cyclist and yogi, Dr. McNamara feels most at home in the Colorado mountains.