VBACs Are Safer Than You Thought, Study Finds

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ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Jan 2017
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For most moms, one c-section means more c-sections to follow. While a vaginal birth after a c-section ( VBAC ) does still come with a risk of complications, a new study found that those complications are rarer than you’d think.

The study, published in the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report, found that just 20 percent of women who had a baby via c-section attempted vaginal birth later. Of these, 70 percent were successful (the other 30 percent, like Kristen Bell, ended up needing a c-section).

The study also found that successful VBAC deliveries were linked to lower rates of complications than c-sections, including the need for blood transfusions, ICU admissions and unplanned hysterectomies.

But a major risk is still uterine rupture. Among women who attempted a VBAC but ended up needing to switch to a c-section, the rate of uterine rupture was seven times higher than those with a scheduled c-section.

Granted, the low risk rate may be due to the selectivity of VBAC candidates.

“The reason that the VBAC success rate is relatively high is related to choosing the best possible candidates,” ob-gyn Eva Pressman, MD, tells Fox Health. "If everyone who had a previous C-section tried to have a VBAC, “probably less than half of them would be successful.”

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