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British Study Explores VBAC Risks

vbac risksFor a woman who wishes to experience natural childbirth but is worried about VBAC risks, the recent release of a British study will come as some good news. The study, based on 143,970 women between 2004 and 2011 who had their first baby by C-section, was published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

It found that almost two-thirds (63%) of women in the study who attempted a natural delivery after having a Cesarean section for their first birth (VBAC– vaginal birth after cesarean) had a successful natural birth experience for their second child.

Perceived VBAC risks still influence choice

The study, conducted by the Office for Research and Clinical Audit at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that over half (52%) of the women studied attempted a VBAC for their second baby. Young women, 24 or less, were more likely to attempt a VBAC than women older than 34 years. The 34 year-old or older group had a lower success rate (59%) than the younger group (69% success rate).

Black women and Asian women also had a higher percentage of VBAC attempts than white women. The researchers found that 62% of black women and 69% of Asian women attempted a VBAC while only 49% of white women attempted a VBAC.

The head of the research team, Hannah Knight, said, “ The majority of women with an uncomplicated first cesarean section are candidates for attempting VBAC, but our data found that only half of those women chose this option…”

Despite statistics in study, birth injury news not all positive

Although the British study’s 63% VBAC success rate was positive, it also illustrated that not all VBAC’s are successful. Though complications are rare, VBAC still poses serious risks.

The greatest risk, a uterine rupture, occurs when the internal scar from the first C-section opens during labor or delivery and pushes the baby through the uterine wall into the mother’s abdomen. This can result in severe blood loss for the mother and possible fetal brain damage for the infant. Less than one in a hundred VBAC’s will result in a uterine rupture while one in 20 of these infants will die. However, the risk of a uterine rupture occurring is twice as high in VBAC as it is in cesarean births.

The risk of post-operative infection doubles if VBAC is attempted but results in a second C-section. Since this type of repeat cesarean is likely an emergency delivery, it will likely result in more serious issues.

The birth doctor, the anesthesiologist, and the delivery team are responsible for monitoring the mother and the fetus. If they fail to respond adequately in the event of a problem, they may be liable for any harm they cause.