Is it possible for me to have a vaginal delivery after a previous C-section? Labor & Birth

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Woman at the hospital giving birth and holding doctor's hand.
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It's not impossible to give birth vaginally if you've had a C-section. See what these moms and experts have to say about the benefits and risks of vaginal birth after cesarean section (aka VBAC).

Keep in Mind the Big Picture

"Yes, it is possible, but you have to keep in mind that it's not a vaginal delivery after cesarean you want, but a healthy baby that delivers vaginally. If you have to choose a C-section to get a healthy baby, I would recommend that over an unhealthy baby born vaginally. Many women are candidates for a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), [an attempt at] a VBAC. I have had many women successfully have a VBAC but I have also had a few women and their babies have complications that came with...

"Yes, it is possible, but you have to keep in mind that it's not a vaginal delivery after cesarean you want, but a healthy baby that delivers vaginally. If you have to choose a C-section to get a healthy baby, I would recommend that over an unhealthy baby born vaginally. Many women are candidates for a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), [an attempt at] a VBAC. I have had many women successfully have a VBAC but I have also had a few women and their babies have complications that came with trying, so you have to understand your risks fully." -- Sarah Yamaguchi, MD, OB/GYN at Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, CA

A VBAC Is Likely Possible

"In some rare cases, you may be advised not to attempt a VBAC, but most women can attempt a VBAC if they go into spontaneous labor. Depending on the indication of your first C-section, your prognosis to have a successful VBAC can vary. For example, if you had a primary C-section for breech, that gives you a better chance of success for a VBAC than a primary C-section for other complications such as 'arrest of labor,' 'failure to progress,' or 'failure to push.'" -- Sheeva Talebian, MD, member of the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), New York, NY

You'll Need the Right Team

"If you have had only one cesarean and the doctor or provider who is delivering you has a hospital equipped for it, then you can likely try for a VBAC. This requires an anesthesiologist, neonatology team, and obstetrician in the hospital 24 hours a day." -- Yvonne Bohn, MD, OB/GYN at Providence Saint John's Health Center, Santa Monica, CA

It Depends on Your History

"It depends on the type of C-section you had. What direction does your scar on your uterus go? Find out -- if it's vertical, most doctors won't do a VBAC. If it's horizontal, you may be a candidate for one. Do some online searching for doctors in your area that accept VBAC patients. They have been trained for them and are equipped for them."

Sometimes It's Too Risky

"I have had two C-sections and it has been eight years since my last pregnancy, and my doctor says 'absolutely no' to a VBAC. She will not risk it after two prior ones."

Severe Complications Are Rare

"Out of all the risks of VBACs, the one to worry about is uterine rupture, and I've learned that's rare. I did a lot of reading before I chose what we were going to do, and VBAC is safer because every major surgery has its risks."

Be Aware of All the Risks & Benefits

"My doctor said that generally, a VBAC is safer than a repeat C-section, especially if you plan on having more kids. The risk of surgery grows with each surgery and the risk from the scar tissue that can cause issue with placement and health of the placenta."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.