Cesarean sections are increasingly common. The c-section rate in the United States has consistently on the rise for decades now, and is at an all-time high of 32 percent. With a third of all new mothers now giving birth surgically, larger numbers of mothers are also wondering if you can give birth vaginally to a subsequent baby after you had a previous c-section. The answer to this question depends on many factors, but for the overwhelming majority of women, it is a definite YES!
Vaginal birth after cesarean section is commonly known as VBAC. While many hospitals and many doctors across the US have "banned" VBACs and practically forced women who had previous cesarean to have a repeat c-section with later babies, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not agree, and takes the viewpoint that the majority of women are perfectly able to have safe vaginal births after cesarean sections. They recently published new guidelines and made a statement that will, hopefully, boost the VBAC rates in the United States.
If you are pregnant again after a c-section, and are hoping for a vaginal birth, remember that your risk of uterine rupture does increase slightly. The ACOG holds that the risk of a repeat c-section is still higher than that of a VBAC, if you have had a low horizontal incision. Women who had classical incisions or t-shaped incisions may be at increased risk, and should discuss their birth options with a trusted healthcare provider. If you are having trouble finding an obstetrician supportive of VBAC, the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) can help. Ask all the questions that you have, and make sure that the risks and benefits of both a repeat c-section and a vaginal birth are fully explained to you. Informing yourself through sources other than your doctor can give you a more balanced view of the situation. For more information about cesarean sections, see recovery after a c-section and choose midwifery, avoid a c-section.