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VBAC

Q. I would like to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After a Caesarean). What is my local unit's policy?

This varies from unit to unit with some units stating that it's encouraged and others stating that it's decided on an individual basis. Rates of up to 72% successful VBAC were mentioned but these appeared to be calculated on a different basis than those units that reported rates of between 30% and 50%. (The first calculation only gives the percentage of VBACs out of women who were in labour whereas the other way of calculating the rate is the percentage of VBACs out of all women who had one prior Caesarean birth.)

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Q. I would like to have a VBAC2 (Vaginal Birth After 2 Caesareans). What is my local unit's policy?

The policy in the vast majority of units is to have a planned caesarean birth. Only a couple of units stated that a tiny percentage of women have VBAC2. One unit informed us that they are carrying out a review of the research and evidence to ensure their policy is up-to-date.

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Q. How many women have VBACs in my local maternity unit?

We asked the hospitals to tell us how many pregnant mothers in 2009 had one prior caesarean birth and out of those, how many opted to labour and out of those, how many gave birth vaginally. Confused? Hope not!

Not all were able to give us all those figures and some couldn’t give us any at all. The table below gives the breakdown.

The first column gives an idea of how common VBAC is in the unit ranging from 2.1% of all mothers giving birth there to 5.1%

The second column gives an idea of what proportion of women (who have had one prior caesarean birth) opt to labour –that could be with labour starting naturally or being induced. These figures range from 51% to 75%.

The third column is how many mothers gave birth vaginally (out of all those who had one prior caesarean birth) and this varies from 25% to 43%. This is the most important figure as it gives the best indication of the unit’s VBAC rate.

The final column is the rate the maternity units often quote and it is the percentage of successful VBACs out of the mothers who laboured. Most of these figures are over 65% showing that more than half of the mothers who laboured gave birth vaginally.

Popup table.