Can I have a vaginal birth after a caesarean section?

Pregnant individual in prenatal appointment with midwife

In my prenatal programs, I commonly hear “I already had a C-section and hope this time I can have a vaginal birth”. Depending on your previous birth experience(s) and your own health history, you do have a high chance of giving birth vaginally.

Having a vaginal birth after a caesarean (VBAC) may be a safe option to gain the benefits of having a normal vaginal birth. If you’ve had a caesarean section (C-section) before, your health care provider will discuss your options for your current pregnancy.

Being aware of your choices; the benefits, risks and alternative methods that can be used in labour and birth are vital to making an informed decision.

 What can help improve your chances for a VBAC?

  1. Having a reproductive life plan.

Planning ahead allows you to space your pregnancies to the recommended 18 months to 24 months between pregnancies. This spacing can decrease the risk of a tear in your uterus after a previous C-section.

  1. Choosing a health care provider who will support your wish for a vaginal birth.

When considering a vaginal birth, your health care provider will check for increased risks including:

  • Health history: if you had a previous C-section due to a medical condition; problems during labour;  or a classic or inverted “T” scar
  • Age: risk is higher if you are older than 35
  • Spacing: if you had caesarean section less than 18 months ago
  • If your body mass index is over 25
  • If you had any medical intervention used to start and/or speed up your labour

One option is to use a midwife. Midwives are health care professionals that can help deliver a low risk pregnancy with the least amount of intervention in a safe way.

  1. Being open

Even if you want to try for a vaginal birth, there are many different reasons that you may have another C-section.  Because of this, home births may not be recommended if you have had a previous C-section.

  1. Staying informed

Ask questions if you are not sure of something.  Studies show that for every 100 VBACs planned, only 25 percent will end up with a C-section.  Talking to your health care provider can help you know the risks, understand your options, improve your chances of having a positive birth experience and decide whether having a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) is right for you.

Questions about planning a pregnancy or your current pregnancy? Connect with a public health nurse via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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