Why do I hear conflicting information about VBAC vs. repeat C-section?

For decades, most women who had a C-section went on to plan another C-section for later pregnancies. This is because doctors were mainly concerned that the scar from the past cut in the uterus could open during labor (uterine rupture) and cause serious complications for the mother or baby. Often they did not balance this with possible risks of surgery for women and babies, in the short and longer terms.

In the 1980s and '90s, many health professionals, advocates, pregnant women, policymakers and researchers encouraged VBAC because:

  • Doctors began making the surgical cut in a different part of the uterus, which is much less likely to open during a VBAC labor.
  • More research showed VBAC to be safe.
  • As more women had C-sections, the risks of the surgery became clearer.

Then, opinions turned back toward a preference for repeat C-sections. This back-and-forth has left many women struggling to make sense of conflicting, incomplete and sometimes misleading information about the safety of VBAC vs. repeat C-section and to decide what course to choose if they have had a C-section and are again pregnant.

Today, research continues to make clear the risks and benefits of both VBAC and repeat C-section, and more women are fighting for the chance to make their own choice — so VBAC may become more available and common soon.