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Can You Have a Vaginal Birth after a C-Section and Just How Many C-sections are Safe Anyway?

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Many women (believe it or not) want to have their baby naturally and without drugs. This would be called a vaginal delivery. But some wonder if it is possible to have their baby vaginally when they’ve already had a C-section.

Some years ago, as the Mayo Clinic indicates, this would have been impossible, but with changes in surgical techniques, VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) is very possible. Your doctor will have to assess your medical history and status in order for this type of procedure to be authorized. Due to having complications, some women are not good candidates for this type of delivery.

But if you are found to be a good candidate, you will find that you have fewer complications (such as infections) shorter recovery time, more interactions in the birth process and an easier delivery each time following a VBAC. The Mayo Clinic lists what may increase your success:

• You have only one prior low transverse uterine scar — the most
common uterine incision for a C-section — and no other uterine scars
• You and your baby are healthy and your pregnancy is progressing normally
• The reason you had your prior C-section isn't a factor this time
• Your labor begins naturally on or before your due date
• You've had a previous successful vaginal delivery

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic lists what may decrease your chances at a successful VBAC:

• Your pregnancy continues beyond your due date
• You have an unusually large baby
• You've had two or more C-sections and no vaginal deliveries
• You're obese

As with any medical procedure, there are risks. A failed attempt at labor is one. Statistics indicate that for 20-40 percent of women who attempt VBAC, this is the case. The main reason is found to be that the baby cannot tolerate labor and becomes distressed. If you cannot deliver naturally and have to undergo an emergency C-section, your chances for an uterine infection increase. Even sometimes during an attempted VBAC, the uterus may tear at the previous scar line. At this point, an emergency C-section is needed.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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