If you’ve had a Cesarean section once, you don’t necessarily want to go through a C-section again the next time you’re having a baby. Trying to have a baby the “natural” way after a previous Cesarean is called Vaginal Birth After Cesarean: VBAC for short. VBAC can be fine for both mother and baby — but it does pose a risk that families need to know about so they can go in with wide-open eyes to the labor and delivery unit at the hospital.
That risk is rupture of the uterus, with consequent castrophic injury to the baby. If the risks are not appreciated, that can be medical malpractice.
That means that if rupture happens, the baby must be delivered immediately. There is no time to call in a surgical team from outside the hospital.
Parents must ask this critical question if they’re thinking about VBAC:Does your hospital have 24-hour staffing with obstetricians, anesthetists and the rest of the surgical team?
Because if not, it’s not safe to try VBAC at that hospital.
Recent news articles about changes in the guidelines for VBAC featured doctors and hospital executives trying to blame parents for the decline in the popularity of VBAC. And they said if hospitals don’t have the staff to have 24-hour coverage, parents should just “accept the risk.” But the news articles didn’t spell out that risk. That prompted Patrick Malone to write a letter to the editor, which the New York Times printed as its lead letter. Mr. Malone described the consequences to families from failed VBAC’s and said it wasn’t fair to blame the families for the medical industry’s staffing failures. Read his letter here.