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VBAC Risks and Benefits

Make an informed decison after reviewing VBAC risks and benefits.

Benefits of VBAC

A vaginal birth has many advantages over a planned repeat cesarean surgery. In general, a VBAC

  1. avoids major abdominal surgery
  2. is usually safer for both the baby and the mother
  3. Newborn breastfeeding

  4. reduces the risks of infection and other surgery-related complications, such as hemorrhage, transfusion, to the mother.
  5. reduces the chances of damage to organs like the bladder, intestines and bowel
  6. reduces the chances of a need for an emergency hysterectomy
  7. reduces the post partum recovery time for the mother
  8. reduces the possible future risks of having multiple cesareans such as abnormal placenta conditions (placenta previa and placenta accreta).
  9. reduces the length of hospital stay
  10. costs less than a cesarean birth
  11. facilitates bonding and breastfeeding
  12. lowers the risk of respiratory problems in newborn babies
  13. vaginal birth has at least 10 other benefits to babies

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VBAC Risks

1. One study reports that the VBAC risk of uterine rupture is 4% if labor is permitted to begin naturally after after one prior low transverse (bikini cut) cesarean.(Landon, 2004) According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the risk of uterine rupture in a vaginal delivery is 0.5 - 0.9%.
Studies show that the risk increases if induction is used to augment labor.

2. There is a higher risk of uterine infection for mothers who have a trial of labor and then undergo a cesarean.

3. There is a small risk of an emergency cesarean rather than a planned repeat cesarean, which is likely to have been less traumatic.

4. There is a small chance that the VBAC will not succeed and a woman may repeat a prior negative experience if a cesarean becomes necessary.

Risks of Cesarean

According to ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) elective cesarean section poses the following risks to babies:
  1. 2-6% chance of baby being lacerated accidentally during surgery
  2. 9% chance of baby being born prematurely
  3. 0.4% risk of respiratory distress syndrome in the baby, which is potentially fatal
  4. low birth weight
Potential risks to women include:
  1. hemorrhage,
  2. infection,
  3. hysterectomy,
  4. surgical mistakes,
  5. re-hospitalization,
  6. dangerous, life-threatening placental abnormalities in future pregnancies,
  7. unexplained stillbirth in future pregnancies
  8. increased percentage of maternal death.
  9. increased risks to both mother and baby in subsequent pregnancies

ICAN concludes that when all short- and long-term consequences are considered, vaginal birth after cesarean has been shown to be less risky for both mother and baby than elective repeat cesarean section.

More Pages Related to VBAC Risks and Benefits

VBAC & Safety

Benefits of Vaginal Birth

Vaginal Birth Video Clips - in a hospital setting

Caesarean Section

Birth Video Slideshows - Twins and Multiples

Child Birth Videos of VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)

VBACs after CPD (Cephalo-pelvic Disproportion)


American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010, July 21). Ob-Gyns Issue Less Restrictive VBAC Guidelines. Retrieved 29 August 2010, from ACOG:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2010). ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 115: Vaginal Birth After Previous Cesarean Delivery. Washington DC.

Landon, M. B., Hauth, J. C., & Leveno, K. J. (2004). Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes Associated with a Trial of Labor after Prior Cesarean Delivery. The New England Journal of Medicine, 351, 2581-2589.



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