Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

While Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) are not uncommon today, their numbers are shrinking. The medical practice until the late 1970s was "once a caesarean, always a caesarean" but a consumer-driven movement supporting VBAC changed the medical practice. Rates of VBAC in the 80s and early 90s soared, but more recently the rates of VBAC have dramatically dropped owing to medico-legal restrictions.

In the past, caesarean sections used a vertical incision which cut the uterine muscle fibres in an up and down direction (a classical caesarean). Modern caesareans typically involve a horizontal incision along the muscle fibres in the lower portion of the uterus (hence the term lower uterine segment caesarean section, LUSCS/LSCS). The uterus then better maintains its integrity and can tolerate the strong contractions of future childbirth. Cosmetically the scar for modern caesareans is below the "bikini line."

Obstetricians and other caregivers differ on the relative merits of vaginal and caesarean section following a caesarean delivery; some still recommend a caesarean routinely, others do not. What should be emphasized in modern obstetric care is that the decision should be a mutual decision between the obstetrician and the mother/birth partner after assessing the risks and benefits of each type of delivery. As is the case for all surgical procedures a patient signed form relating to informed consent must be obtained prior to surgery attesting the completeness of patient information because of reasonable and viable alternatives to maternal choice CS.

In the United States of America, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) modified the guidelines on vaginal birth after previous caesarean delivery in 1999 and again in 2004. This modification to the guideline including the addition of following recommendation:

Because uterine rupture may be catastrophic, VBAC should be attempted in institutions equipped to respond to emergencies with physicians immediately available to provide emergency care.

This recommendation has, in some cases, had a major impact on the availability of VBACs to birthing mothers in the United States. For example, a study of the change in frequency of VBAC deliveries in California after the change in guidelines, published in 2006, found that the VBAC rate fell to 13.5% after the change, compared with 24% VBAC rate before the change. The new recommendation has been interpreted by many hospitals as indicating that a full surgical team must be standing by to perform a caesarean section for the full duration of a VBAC woman's labor. Hospitals that prohibit VBACs entirely are said to have a 'VBAC ban'. In these situations, birthing mothers are forced to choose between having a repeat caesarean section, finding an alternate hospital in which to deliver their baby or attempting delivery outside the hospital setting.

Recovery Period

Typically the recovery time depends on the patient and their pain/ inflammation levels. Doctors do recommend no strenuous work i.e. lifting objects over 10 lbs., running, walking up stairs, or athletics for up to two weeks.

Further Reading


This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article on "Caesarean section" All material adapted used from Wikipedia is available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Wikipedia® itself is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

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