Virginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) literally refers to the vaginal birth of a baby, following a previous caesarean birth.
While many women have a successful VBAC, there is a small risk that the scar on the uterus from the previous caesarean may rupture or tear. This is known at uterine rupture and is an extremely serious medical complication.
For this reason, women who wish to attempt VBAC will be much more closely monitored during pregnancy and labour, primarily to ensure that the scar on the uterus is coping with the pressures placed upon it. In some cases the scar may be scanned during the later stages of pregnancy.
Additionally, women who opt for a VBAC will also be offered continuous fetal heart monitoring during labour to ensure that the uterus, its contractions and the baby are progressing steadily.
Although it carries some risk to the mother, VBAC is still a safe way of giving birth, and many women want to attempt VBAC due to the benefits it brings. For example, women who have a successful vaginal birth will have less pain after giving birth, will be much more mobile and will have a shorter stay in hospital.
Additionally, for women who have experienced disappointment over the need for a previous c-section, a successful VBAC can provide a great sense of personal achievement and fulfilment, and a much better memory of the birth experience.