‘Once a cesarean, always a cesarean’ is a common misconception. Many women are unaware that vaginal birth after caesarean or a VBAC may be an option for them.
According to American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a VBAC can be understood as vaginal delivery after a woman has had a previous cesarean delivery.
Dr. Rinku Sengupta, consultant obstetrician-gynecologist at Sitaram Bhartia Institute in Delhi highlights, “Attempting a vaginal birth is safe and appropriate for most women with favourable VBAC indications. At our hospital, we counsel women about the benefits and risks of VBAC.”
Read on to learn why you should try for a VBAC.
- VBAC may be better for baby and the mother
As a baby moves down the birth canal, it picks up healthy bacteria and yeast that are found in the mother’s body. This microflora may reduce the baby’s chances of developing obesity, allergies and diabetes in later life.
Mothers with a VBAC have less pain after delivery. They are back on their feet the same day and are able to promptly begin breastfeeding and take care of the newborn and their elder child.
A normal delivery after a cesarean may also help women avoid potential risks associated with having multiple cesareans, such as hysterectomy or bowel injuries.
- Most women can try for VBAC
According to the ACOG, about 3 out of 4 women can try for a VBAC. There are few VBAC criteria that women must fulfill for a trial of labour. For women trying for a VBAC:
- they should have had no more than 1 previous cesarean,
- the reason for the first cesarean should not be expected to recur,
- there should be no other major medical complication
Before preparing for a VBAC, it is essential to find a gynecologist who supports and motivates you to try for a normal delivery after cesarean.
- VBAC is safe
Sometimes women and their families don’t readily accept the idea of a VBAC. The fear is that the uterine scar from the previous cesarean will rupture and cause serious complications for the baby and the mother.
At times women are discouraged from trying for a VBAC because of a thin scar; this should not be the case as scar thickness is not related to risk of rupture.
“Many women ask us, “what happens if my uterus ruptures during a VBAC?”
“Uterus or scar rupture occurs in less than 1% of women. This can be usually managed with an immediate cesarean, which is why it’s important that VBAC is attempted in a well-equipped hospital with a 24-hour operating theatre.”
“In our hospital, more than 4 out of 5 women attempting a VBAC have a vaginal delivery without any complications.”
FAQs about Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
Is VBAC more painful?
Some second-time mothers attempting a VBAC may not have experienced labour pain before, which is why it may seem daunting to face it.
With the right kind of preparation through antenatal classes and the support of highly trained nurses, you should be able to tolerate labour.
Also read: How to Reduce Labour Pain – 3 Effective Tips
How to increase chances of VBAC?
You can follow these tips to increase chances of a VBAC :
- Choose a team of gynecologists who encourages normal delivery after a cesarean
- Choose a birthing partner (your mother or husband) who will support you during labour
- Stay motivated by reading VBAC success stories, watching video testimonials and talking to women to understand how they prepared
- Incorporate 30-40 minutes of light exercise like regular walks or yoga into your daily routine
- Avoid excessive weight gain by adopting a healthy and balanced diet
VBAC Success Stories at Sitaram Bhartia
Read a few success stories for women who searched for a pro-VBAC maternity team, consulted us and then gave birth the way they imagined.
Like these women, Deepti Menon, former HR professional in the US, had a cesarean 4 years ago for the birth of her twins. When Deepti and her husband started consulting with us for their second pregnancy and learned about the possibility of a VBAC, they weren’t sure whether it was safe.
After the delivery they had a completely different opinion about it.
“That was the best decision we could take, along with the advice of the doctors!” says Abhinandan, Deepti’s husband.
Watch: Deepti’s VBAC story
Ankita Singh, PhD, came to us from Pune where she delivered her first child. Initially sceptical about a VBAC, she read up as much as she could and attended antenatal classes to clear all her doubts.
It was in those classes that she finally gained the confidence to go ahead with a normal delivery. And she’s very happy she did.
“मुझे इतना प्यार, इतना सपोर्ट मिला यहाँ पर…अब तो मैं और भी प्रेगनेंसी के लिए कोशिश कर सकती हूँ !” she concludes, laughing.
This article was written with editorial inputs by Dr Rinku Sengupta, consultant obstetrician-gynecologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital in South Delhi. Dr Rinku has over 15 years of experience and has spearheaded efforts to reduce cesarean section rates at the hospital so that every low-risk expecting woman can try for a normal delivery.