VBAC: What is it?

There are many reasons why mothers-to-be wish to have a VBAC. But what is a VBAC, who can have one and is there the support needed for mothers? We spoke to a San Diego practitioner and the co-leader of ICAN San Diego to find out more.


What is a VBAC?

A VBAC is a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean or major abdominal surgery. A Cesarean is often preformed in emergency situations and has become more of a scheduled event for some mothers and doctors over time.

Can mothers who have had a previous Cesarean have a vaginal birth with subsequent children? Alisa Okamoto, a doula and co-leader of ICAN San Diego, says, “There’s a myth surrounding childbirth: ‘once a cesarean, always a cesarean,’ and fortunately, that’s not always true.”

A VBAC not only avoids major surgery that in some cases proves to be unnecessary, it can provide mothers with a shorter recovery period and lessens the chance of hemorrhage and infection.


Doctors and VBACs

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement in July of 2010 in support of VBACs. The ACOG statement says, “Attempting a vaginal birth after Cesarean is a safe and appropriate choice for most women who have had prior Cesarean delivery.”

Richard N. Waldman, M.D., of the ACOG explained that one of the reasons why the organization is loosening a previously restrictive stance on VBACs is because the Cesarean rate in the U.S. is “undeniably high.” That high Cesarean rate is currently hovering around 30 percent of all U.S. births.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists currently recommends VBACs as a viable option for women who have had one or two Cesareans in the past and for women carrying twins.

Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC): Choosing your caregiver >>

Dr. Nikolas Capetanakis, D.O., an OBGYN in Encinitas, California, is a strong supporter of ACOG’s recommendations. With an 80 percent VBAC success rate, Dr. Capetanakis believes that the key to a successful VBAC is a full understanding of what a VBAC is and proper knowledge of how to form a strong support system. “It’s important for women take it upon themselves to find a supportive practitioner and to form a solid support team — which usually includes a doula.”

What can you do to prepare for a VBAC?

In addition to Dr. Capetanakis’ suggestions, Alisa of ICAN San Diego gave us some helpful tips about what pregnant women can do to increase their chances of a successful VBAC.

  • Educate and understand the process
  • Have a supportive partner
  • Choose a supportive practitioner
  • Hire a doula
  • Avoid induction
  • Avoid unnecessary interventions
  • Stay active and change positions during labor
  • Eat, drink and relax during labor
  • Trust your body

How to increase your chances of a successful VBAC >>

More on birth choices

Breaking up with your OBGYN
Essential pregnancy, birth and parenting books
Home sweet home birth


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