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New Study Tests Risks of Vaginal Births After C-Section

Vaginal births after C-sections (VBACs) are a hot topic in the world of childbirth these days. On one hand, the current C-section rates have been rising over the past few decades, reaching a point (between 30-40% of all births) that most agree is far too high. C-section are most expensive and more risky than healthy vaginal births. Performing these unnecessarily is therefore not a good scenario. However, on the other hand there situations where doctors are unsure if it is safe to have a vaginal birth instead of a C-section. Our Illinois birth injury lawyers appreciate that VBACs lie at the heart of that debate. VBACs are births involving women who have had a previous child delivered via C-section. There is disagreement about the increased risks of a birth injury when VBACs are performed.

A new study was recently published at PLOS Journal involving examination of the true risk of VBACs. The overall results are slightly muddled but indicate that women who have a vaginal birth after that have previous had a C-section are at a slightly higher risk of having some complications during their pregnancy and birth. This conclusion was reached by experts from the University of Adelaide in Australia.

The study examined over 2,300 women who had previously given birth via C-section. Of that group, slightly more than half chose to have a vaginal birth, while the remaining mothers had another C-section birth. None of the participating mothers in any group had previously had other complications, such as premature births. Therefore, all of the 2,300 participants were considered reasonable candidates for VBACs. No doubt the results might have been different if other factors were involved, such as mothers who had complications in the earlier birth.
What did they find?

Overall, there were no serious differences between the groups. There were no maternal deaths in any of the groups. However, there were two stillbirths in the vaginal birth group-the causes of those stillbirths are unknown. The researchers admit that overall there was little difference between the groups. The only main finding was that those mothers who had a VBAC were more likely to have a serious hemorrhage during the process which often required a blood transfusion. In addition, while 2.3% of children born vaginally suffered various neonatal problems, only 1% of the C-section group had those problems.

Our Illinois birth injury attorneys appreciate that these findings are difficult to parse out. While small it is undeniable that VBACs come with a bigger risk of infant or fetal death. However, the effect is small. In addition, the hemorrhaging issue is a concern, but that did not lead to maternal death or other seemingly serious complications.

At the end of the day, this research is likely another bit of information that should be incorporated into discussions between mothers and doctors about the best course of action in their specific situation. It is impossible for these sorts of decisions to be made on a blanket-basis, because one size certainly does not fit all. No matter what choice is made, however, medical professionals must ensure that they abide by reasonable standards of care to ensure risks of birth injuries are minimized.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Financial Savings of Curbing C-Sections

Doctor Joins in Call to Limit C-Section Use