Having had a C-section in the past doesn't mean you must have one for each subsequent birth. Many women can safely have a vaginal birth after cesarean. It's important to ask your health care provider if vaginal birth after cesarean is an option for you and to discuss the risks and benefits.
When you go into labor, you and your doctor will prepare for a vaginal birth. You will start with a trial of labor after cesarean section (TOLAC). If all goes well, you can continue through the vaginal birth. However, if you or your baby face any risks, your doctor may decide if a C-section is the safest method of delivering your baby.
Certain factors affect whether you are likely to have a successful vaginal birth. Delivering vaginally will allow you to avoid further scarring on your uterus, and you will have less pain and a shorter recovery time than with a C-section.
Not everyone is a candidate for VBAC, so you'll need to work closely with your health care provider throughout your pregnancy to ensure your circumstances make this a safe option. Many women have the option of a vaginal birth, even if you're pregnant with twins. Here's what you should discuss with your doctor:
To be as prepared as possible, discuss any potential VBAC risks with your doctor:
You may have a lower chance of having a successful vaginal birth if you:
Prepare as you would for a vaginal birth by attending childbirth classes and learning techniques for laboring and relaxation. Communicate throughout your pregnancy with your health care provider to ensure that it is still healthy for you to deliver vaginally. You may want to complete our birth plan guide to help share your expectations with your health care providers and nurses. Because you never know what may happen, it helps to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the possibility of a C-section.
You can have skin-to-skin contact with your baby right away and begin breastfeeding if you choose.
Your recovery is similar to a normal vaginal birth. Most moms stay in the hospital 24 to 48 hours. While in the hospital, your care team will look after you and your baby. Your vaginal area will be sore at first, and you may use ice packs to ease the pain and swelling.
For the first few days or even weeks, you will have some bleeding or spotting. It may take four to six weeks before you start feeling normal again and are able to return to work. Take it easy during this time. Avoid heavy lifting and rest as much as you need to. Your health care provider will give you specific instructions for caring for yourself at home.
Many women who plan on vaginal birth after cesarean are successful. UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has experience guiding women through the process and preparing them for a successful vaginal delivery. We have the latest technology and equipment to respond quickly to any risks or complications.
To find out more about the vaginal birth after cesarean procedure at Magee, call 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433) to speak with one our experts.