Can I Have a Vaginal Birth If I Had a Previous C-Section?

Can I Have a Vaginal Birth If I Had a Previous C-Section?

I had a C-section with my first child. Now that I'm pregnant with my second, I'd really like to try to have a vaginal delivery. But is that safefor me and my baby?
- Danae

Many women who have had a cesarean section (or C-section) with their first pregnancy are interested in a vaginal delivery for their second or later births. For years, women who'd had a C-section were encouraged to skip vaginal deliveries altogether and schedule C-sections for all future births.

But these days, a vaginal birth after cesarean (or VBAC) is considered a safe option for many women and their babies. And, with a vaginal delivery, you can come home sooner and recover quicker.

The reason for your first C-section, the type of incision made on your uterus, and other factors in your medical history will determine whether or not you can have a VBAC:

The incision on your skin does not necessarily go in the same direction as the incision on your uterus. Also, if you've had more than one C-section, a VBAC might not be an option.

Of course, not all women who try to have a VBAC succeed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates that about 60% to 80% of women who try to have a VBAC succeed.

Although a VBAC does come with risks, many women are able to have one with no complications at all. If you're interested in having a VBAC, talk to your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits. And check with your hospital well in advance to make sure they'll allow it — if they don't and you have your heart set on a vaginal birth, you may need to change hospitals.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: May 2015





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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Related Resources
OrganizationMaternal and Child Health Bureau This U.S. government agency is charged with promoting and improving the health of mothers and children.
OrganizationAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) This site offers information on numerous health issues. The women's health section includes readings on pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care, breast health, menopause, contraception, and more.
OrganizationNational Association of Childbearing Centers The National Association of Childbearing Centers is an organization that supports the midwifery model of care for expectant parents, birth center professionals, and health policy advocates.
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