Once A C-Section, Always A C-Section

c-sectionSo far, the common wisdom in c-section deliveries has usually been that once you commit to that major abdominal surgery, you’ll be delivering all subsequent babies that way (with exceptions, of course). Some women may be all about the elective c-section. But for those mothers who are hoping for a vaginal delivery, the quick decision by a doctor in a non-medically necessary scenario, which accounts for most American c-sections, can revoke her chances of ever having the kind of labor that she wants.

Risks are reportedly low for women who attempt vaginal delivery after a c-section. However, a very real risk has been documented, particularly a rupturing of the uterus during labor. In a first ever national look at uterine ruptures in the UK, researchers found small — yet consistent — hazards:

In women who had a previous C-section, the risk of the womb rupturing during labour was seven times higher if they tried for a natural labour, compared with a planned C-section. The risk of the baby dying was three times higher.

However, the overall risk was low – 2 in 10,000 of every UK pregnancies.

Australia has some similar findings, as the Australian Research Centre for Health of Women and Babies determined that planned repeat c-sections resulted in less severe bleeding than those women who opted for natural labor. There was also less of chance of the baby dying in the uterus when c-sections were on the agenda.

These findings, which have revisited the complications of c-sections, further evidence the need for women to discuss all their options with their doctors before delivery day. Simple going on autopilot or consenting to your doctor without further questioning could very well impact how you plan to expand your family.

(photo: Shutterstock)

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  • Renee J

    I had two VBACs with both of my sons after a c section with my daughter. With my first son, I had to sign so many documents that stated I understood the risk. With my second son, my doctor told me my risks were actually higher having a c section than a second VBAC. (Since, my first VBAC was successful.) I do know that the recovery after a vaginal birth was much better.

  • Lainey

    This article and the studies it cites leave out one every important bit of information – what are the risks associated with having more than 2 c-sections? The very slight increase in risk (7 times a super tiny number is…a super tiny number) seen between a second c-section and a VBAC completely disappears when a third pregnancy is introduced. So yes, you are infinitesimally safer having that second c-section as long as you have no plans for another pregnancy.

    My experience (c-section with 1st pregnancy and a successful VBAC with 2nd) is that while all the medical professionals were so frantic to dissuade me from attempting a VBAC because of the ‘risks’, not one told me that a second c-section would limit my choices in having more children!

    • LoveyDovey

      That’s why I’ve been discussing this with my doctors- my first was a scheduled Cesarean because my daughter was breech and the cord was around her neck twice. WAY too risky to even attempt. I’m going for a VBAC this time, lucky for me I’m in Germany and since my c-section was planned it’s a horizontal incision, which is less likely to tear. So far the docs have agreed to a TOL and I’ll be at the hospital in case anything goes wrong.

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  • Moe

    “the quick decision by a doctor in a non-medically necessary scenario, which accounts for most American c-sections”

    This is a criminally ignorant statement. Shame on you.