Although a cesarean section can save the life of a mother or a baby, this delivery method does have a higher risk of complications, has a longer recovery time, and costs more. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has recommended in the Healthy People 2010 Report that efforts should be made to reduce the rate of first-time cesarean deliveries in the U.S. to the rate recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) which is 15%, or 15 cesarean section deliveries per 100 women giving birth for the first time. However, hospitals that care for more high-risk pregnancies will tend to have higher cesarean section rates.
For some women, it is possible to have a vaginal delivery after having had a previous C-section. This is called vaginal birth after c-section, or VBAC. There are many benefits of VBAC, including lower risk of complications from surgery, faster recovery, and fewer days in the hospital. However, VBAC does increase the risk of a rupture of the mother’s uterus during labor which requires immediate surgery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has guidelines stating that when a woman is trying for a VBAC, the hospital must have staff available during her labor. This staff must be capable of performing an emergency cesarean delivery if the mother’s uterus ruptures. Hospitals should not offer VBACs if they are not able to meet these requirements. Talk to your doctor or certified midwife about which delivery method is best for you and your baby.