Vaginal Delivery Presents Risks after a C-Section

A recent Australian study shows that there is a significant increase in risk for those who choose to have a vaginal delivery after having already had a C-section for a previous baby. Each of the 2,300+ women studied had delivered their first baby via C-section. Roughly half opted to have another C-section for their second baby. The remainder opted to try vaginal delivery.

The study showed that those who chose vaginal birth after C-section (called VBAC) faced significantly higher risks, both to themselves and to their babies. In all cases, the rate of complications was 2.4% or less. Still, the rate of complications for women opting for a second C-section were considerably lower.

For women who chose to have a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC), the rates of complications were:

  • 2.4% experienced serious complications to or death of the baby.
  • 2.3% experienced serious complications or death of the mother.

The most common complication experienced by mothers who chose to have VBAC was major hemorrhaging. Even those without major complications had no guarantee that they would be able to successfully deliver their second baby vaginally. A full 43% of women opting for VBAC ended up having to deliver their baby via C-section, often due to minor complications.

Women who chose to have a second C-section had much lower instances of complications. The rate of complications for second C-sections were:

  • 0.9% experienced serious complications or death of the baby.
  • 0.8% experienced serious complications or death of the mother.

The study only considered women who were given the option of having a second C-section or attempting VBAC. In many cases, women who have had a prior C-section don’t have the option of vaginal birth for subsequent children.

While no one can tell an expectant mother which option she should choose, it is important that mothers who have previously had C-sections consider the potential risks involved with VBAC. Many health professionals believe the release of this information will lead to more mothers choosing to deliver their babies via C-section, especially if they’ve already delivered one child that way.

Would you attempt a VBAC despite the increased risks? Why or why not?



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