Vaginal Birth After Cesarean 101

One of the most beautiful things about childbirth is no two experiences are the same. 

With that also comes it's fair share of challenges and uncertainties to navigate while you anxiously await the arrival of your second baby. 

If your first birth was a cesarean, or even the first two, a little additional planning and preparation can put you at ease if you're planning for a vaginal birth this time around. 


Preparing for any birth can be intimidating and putting yourself at ease is a great first step. Gather together a good support system and birth team will keep you feeling confident about the process ahead and informed as you move forward. 

Your labor doula can help you with the resources and education you need to prepare and craft your birth plan. Pursuing a vaginal birth after one or a series of cesarean deliveries can be a really emotional decision. Your labor doula will be there every step of the way offering you and your partner both physical and emotional support.  

During labor you should plan comfort strategies with your doula to help you stay as comfortable as possible. Writing your birth plan will be an important part of the process and your team can help you identify what steps will work best for you if you are avoiding medical intervention or cesarean for your next child's birth.

Choosing a Care Provider

As with any birth experience, choosing the right care provider and birth location is important. If you've taken the time to familiarize with your birth center's staff and your team, you'll feel a lot more comfortable. Communication is key and discussing your birth plan with your midwife or physician ahead of time gets everyone on the same page with your expectations and what medical interventions, pain management and delivery strategies you have in mind. From here, your birth team can give you more details about potential tests to avoid or other labor styles that could complicate your vaginal delivery or increase risks. 

Some hospitals don't support VBAC and others have a strict candidacy process to identify whether or not your body can safely deliver your baby vaginally. Choosing the right provider will mean some conversations about your birth goals, your last birth and your current state of health. Safety should be your common ground and different elements on your plan will fall into place. 

The Time Line

How long should you really wait between your cesarean birth, getting pregnant and choosing a vaginal birth (VBAC)? 

Your postpartum doula can help you establish a recovery routine after your cesarean birth and give you some insight about what to expect postpartum. Most care providers would recommend waiting six months to a year of recovery. Remember that a cesarean is a surgical procedure with incisions and muscle trauma that takes some time to completely heal. The more time you allow your body to heal, the stronger you'll be for your next birth. While recovering, pelvic floor strengthening exercises can help your next vaginal birth be more comfortable and even shorter in duration.

With a little preparation and a great support system, your vaginal birth after cesarean can be a successful experience.