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Vaginal Birth After Caesarean Section

If you had you previous child by caesarean section and have fallen pregnant once again, you will be wondering whether to have another C-section or whether to try for a vaginal delivery. Your decision should be discussed in detail with your medical practitioners, and a suitable and safe birth plan devised.

Can you have a vaginal delivery after a C-Section?

If you have had a caesarean section and are looking forward to having another child, it will be necessary to decide what mode of delivery to opt for this time round. This is because C-sections can leave a woman with excessive uterine scarring which can rupture during a vaginal delivery. Furthermore, a woman may have a recurrent condition that means a spontaneous vaginal birth simply isn't safe. This could include high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.

It is therefore extremely important that a suitable birth plan is devised. Doctors must assess you at regular intervals during pregnancy, using your medical history and current condition of health to determine whether an elective C-section or a vaginal birth is the safest option. The conclusion will be based entirely upon your individual circumstances, and so it is not possible to say here whether you can have a vaginal delivery after a caesarean section. However, it is generally accepted that if you have previously undergone a caesarean section for a non-recurrent reason (for example, your baby's head was in the wrong position or labour did not progress properly) then it is entirely reasonable for you to attempt a vaginal birth after caesarean known as VBAC for short.

If a VBAC is planned, doctors will usually advise that it can only go ahead if labour is spontaneous. If a pregnancy goes beyond term, it is normal to induce labour. Nevertheless, this can be dangerous in vaginal births after a caesarean; so if you progress two weeks past your due date, it would be in-keeping with obstetric practice to perform an elective C-section.

What if complications arise during a vaginal birth?

If you do proceed to have a vaginal birth, it is of course possible that complications will arise. If this has happened to you, you need to consider why these complications occurred. Was it for a non-current, unavoidable reason? Indeed, perhaps your labour did not progress and you were exhausted. Or was it because medical professionals did not act in accordance with accepted obstetric practice? This might include if:

  • You were induced, rather than have an elective C-section;
  • Your uterus was badly scarred and consequently ruptured;
  • You had a known medical condition that made a VBAC dangerous, such as heart problems;
  • Your unborn baby weighed 5kg or more.

If there are indeed contraindications to a vaginal delivery (such as the ones described above) but medical professionals advise that you should go ahead with a VBAC, this will amount to a substandard level of medical care. If this results in an injury to either you or your baby, you will be considered the victim of medical negligence. This means you will be legally entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering you wrongfully endured.

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