I’ve had a C-section before. Can I give birth naturally this time?

If you have had a C-section previously, whether it was elective or for medical reasons, the chance of having a successful vaginal birth is lower – but still possible.

First labours are often longer and more complicated, but they also serve as ‘training’ for subsequent labours. Your uterus retains the ‘memory’ of what to do and, as a result, your second and third labours are characterised by more synchronised contractions, making them quicker. Vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) is harder because your uterus lacks this memory, compounded by the weakening effects of scarring on your uterus.

Most women who have C-sections do so for medical reasons. For example, your baby may be positioned feet first (breech) or your cervix may be blocked by the placenta (placenta praevia). It is thought that the chance of a successful VBAC is higher if your C-section was done for a non-recurring cause, such as the baby being in the breech position. However, if you had a C-section for a recurring cause (which are genetic, such as the baby being big), the chance of successful vaginal delivery is lower.

Posted in: Common queries about obstetrics and pregnancy