VBAC or Repeat C-Section: What You Need to Know



Why is the decision between VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and repeat c-section important?

Why do I hear conflicting information about VBAC vs repeat c-section?

How can this website help me learn about, decide on and plan for a VBAC or a repeat c-section?



Why is the decision between VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and repeat c-section important?

If you have had one or more cesareans, your decision about whether to plan a VBAC ("vee-back") or a repeat cesarean section section impacts you, your baby, and any future pregnancies. You will want to become well-informed about both VBAC and repeat cesarean, understand the trade-offs, and weigh your own values and concerns so that you can come to a decision that is best for you. Once you make a decision about VBAC or cesarean birth, careful planning can help you reach your goals.

Unfortunately, a growing number of hospitals and doctors do not allow you to weigh the facts, consider your preferences and choose for yourself whether to plan a VBAC or repeat cesarean. They may refuse because they fear lawsuits, because they face restrictions from insurance companies, because they prefer the convenience of scheduled deliveries, or other reasons, but the effect is the same: if you wish to use their services, you must accept surgical delivery. Your best approach is to become informed and clarify your goals well in advance and then seek care that is in line with your preferences and birth plan.

Why do I hear conflicting information about VBAC vs repeat c-section?

During much of the last century, a woman who had a cesarean section almost always had a planned repeat c-section and not a VBAC for any births that followed. Doctors were concerned that the scar from the past cut in the uterus could open during labor (uterine rupture), and cause serious complications for mother or infant.

In the 1980s and '90s, however, many health professionals, advocates, pregnant women, policy makers and researchers encouraged VBAC. These changes happened because:

  • doctors began making the surgical cut in a different part of the uterus which is much less likely to open during a VBAC labor
  • a growing body of research established the high likelihood of safety with VBAC
  • the risks of c-section, especially repeated c-sections, became more clear as c-section rate increased.

Then the pendulum swung back from vaginal birth after cesarean, with new calls for routine repeat c-sections. This reversal has left many women with cesarean scars struggling to make sense of conflicting, incomplete, and sometimes misleading information about the safety of VBAC vs. repeat c-section and about what birth plan to make this time around.

The pendulum may now be swinging back to encouraging VBAC, as research continues to help clarify the benefits and risks of both VBAC and repeat cesareans, and women become vocal advocates for greater choice.

How can this website help me learn about, decide on and plan for a VBAC or a repeat c-section?

This section of the website provides reliable information and support to help you understand the issues surrounding planned VBAC vs. planned repeat cesarean. In it, you will find:


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Options: VBAC or Repeat C-Section

Most recent page update: 11/16/2012


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