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Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery

  • Practice Bulletin PB
  • Number 205
  • February 2019

ABSTRACT: Trial of labor after cesarean delivery (TOLAC) refers to a planned attempt to deliver vaginally by a woman who has had a previous cesarean delivery, regardless of the outcome. This method provides women who desire a vaginal delivery the possibility of achieving that goal—a vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC). In addition to fulfilling a patient’s preference for vaginal delivery, at an individual level, VBAC is associated with decreased maternal morbidity and a decreased risk of complications in future pregnancies as well as a decrease in the overall cesarean delivery rate at the population level 1 2 3. However, although TOLAC is appropriate for many women, several factors increase the likelihood of a failed trial of labor, which in turn is associated with increased maternal and perinatal morbidity when compared with a successful trial of labor (ie, VBAC) and elective repeat cesarean delivery 4 5 6. Therefore, assessing the likelihood of VBAC as well as the individual risks is important when determining who is an appropriate candidate for TOLAC. Thus, the purpose of this document is to review the risks and benefits of TOLAC in various clinical situations and to provide practical guidelines for counseling and management of patients who will attempt to give birth vaginally after a previous cesarean delivery.

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