Our goal is for every woman to have a healthy vaginal birth. A vaginal birth is when a baby is born by coming through the mother's vagina or "birth canal." Giving birth is a natural, normal, and healthy process. The vast majority of women can have safe, normal vaginal births. Your birth hormones guide you and your baby on the path to a healthy birth. A natural childbirth results in many benefits including enhanced bonding between mother and newborn. When labor progresses spontaneously, there is also a reduced possibility of complications or need for instrumental/surgical intervention. Read more about a normal physiologic labor and birth here.
There are health conditions where a cesarean birth is necessary for the wellbeing of the mother and/or the baby. A cesarean birth is when a baby is born by coming through surgical incision (cut) in her belly – through her skin, muscle and uterus. It is important for you to learn as much as you can before labor so that you are fully prepared in the case you have to make a decision quickly. It is important for you to weigh possible risks, complications and benefits.
If you have previously had a cesarean section and become pregnant again, you may consider a Trial-of-Labor-After-Cesarean Section (TOLAC) for your next birth. This is a personal decision and there are many factors to consider, but 90% of women with a past cesarean are candidates for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). VBAC does have some potential risks, but fewer risks than repeat cesarean sections. All of the OBs at Stanford Health Care - ValleyCare perform VBACs and are supported by our labor and delivery nurses. Your OB can help you explore this birth option during your prenatal visits. Learn more about VBAC and repeat cesarean sections here.
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