When a lot of women think about Vaginal Birth After Cesarean, also known as VBAC, they think about old, outdated information that has been passed around in the last decade as the rate of vaginal births after previous cesarean deliveries has dropped drastically.
This trend has been very concerning for most in the childbirth field, from medical professionals to those of us like myself who work as support or as childbirth educators. For myself, as a mother who has had two previous cesarean sections, one being a long labor trying to have a successful VBAC, this has become a passion of mine.
Education is the key to making safe choices in your medical care and childbirth, especially after having a previous cesarean delivery.
Myth: Once a Cesarean, Always a Cesarean.
While this used to be a common myth, the tables have turned with more research being done. The safest option for the majority of women with a previous cesarean delivery is labor and a vaginal delivery when possible. After one surgical delivery, there are risks in any future pregnancy, but learning and weighing the risks is most important.
Risks of VBAC: Uterine rupture (0.6 percent), and failed VBAC leading to another cesarean section (VBAC is estimated to be between 60-80 percent successful depending on the birth setting).
Risks of a Repeat Cesarean: Infection, increased blood loss, decreased bowel function, respiratory complications, longer hospital stay, longer recovery time, reactions to anesthesia, the risk of additional surgeries, adhesions, future infertility, increased risk for placenta problems in future pregnancies, complications to the baby, and maternal death.
Myth: VBAC is illegal.
This is 100 percent incorrect. VBAC is legal throughout the United States, even in areas where hospitals have “banned” the procedure. Unfortunately, with all the incorrect information out there flying around through rumor and word of mouth, there are a lot of women who think it is not legal.
Myth: VBAC is not an option if you have had more than one previous C-section delivery.
As most have already learned through my journey seeking a VBA2C, also known as Vaginal Birth After Two Cesarean sections, there is a lot of information out there that shows a trial of labor after two previous C-sections is a safe and viable option for low-risk women. In fact, in light of recent studies published by The American College (Congress) of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the organization, better known as ACOG, has changed their recommendations for VBAC and VBA2C to say both are reasonable options for informed women.
Myth: You cannot VBAC twins.
Another common myth, since so many women who carry twins today are often having cesarean deliveries. In the ACOG guideline changes I talked about above, the Physician Trade Group also changed the recommendations for women pregnant with twins with a previous cesarean section delivery. The International Cesarean Awareness Network has a lot of great information and resources on VBAC with twins.
Myth: Labor induction for VBAC is 100 percent safe.
While sometimes labor induction is medically necessary, it should be avoided at all costs in women with previous uterine surgery, including a cesarean section. The stronger contractions produced by the drug can greatly increase a mother’s risk for a uterine rupture. This is also the case in women that do not have any previous cesarean births.
If you have a provider who suggests induction in VBAC, seek a second opinion and make sure you research and feel comfortable with this decision, as it certainly is risky.