Key Tips to Help You Prepare for Your VBAC

What is a VBAC?

VBAC stands for Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. This is when a woman has had a prior cesarean section delivery and achieves a vaginal birth in a subsequent pregnancy. TOLAC (Trial Of Labor After Cesarean) is the labor process in which a woman attempts to achieve a VBAC.

What are the statistics around VBACs?

In 2021, approximately 32% of all live births in the United States were cesarean section deliveries (this includes first-time and repeat cesareans). The rate of first-time cesarean section deliveries for women was 22%. After experiencing a cesarean delivery, 87% of women plan to deliver their next baby via repeat cesarean section while the other 13% plan for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).

Studies have shown a 60-80% success rate for women who attempt VBAC (especially if the reason of your cesarean was non-repetitive and due to your baby’s health or position during pregnancy). VBAC success rates jump up to 93% when a woman has already achieved a prior successful VBAC.

Key tips to consider when preparing for your VBAC:

🗝️ Find a Supportive Provider

There is a difference between providers who are VBAC supportive versus ones who are more VBAC “tolerant”. This difference can be subtle in the beginning but signs that your provider may not be as supportive as initially thought may start popping up in conversations around your birth goals and preferences during the second or third trimester of your pregnancy. Some questions to ask your provider up front are: Do you support VBAC? What criteria must your patients planning VBACs meet? Who are your back-up providers, and do they support VBAC? Do you support your patients laboring and pushing in different positions (given monitoring is trending favorably for both baby and patient)?

🗝️ Balance Your Body

Addressing your body’s healing from your prior cesarean and identifying signs of tension in your body is important during pregnancy, especially for a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC). There are several ways to approach this. See a pelvic floor therapist to address any tension or weakness in your pelvic floor (especially related to post-cesarean healing). Balance your pelvic-sacral area by visiting a Webster-certified chiropractor. Stretch regularly and balance your body using Spinning Babies techniques (like the calf stretch, side lunge, and side-lying release).

🗝️ Process Prior Experience

Aside from the physical preparation, you must also mentally and emotionally prepare for your VBAC. Part of this is by “clearing the room” in your mind and what holds you back in your thoughts. The looping reel of your prior birth experience must be paused and processed. Seeking out maternal mental health support during your pregnancy can help you process your prior experience, while also fully connecting to your current pregnancy and your baby. A great local resource is the maternal mental health specialist team at LATCH in downtown Fayetteville. LATCH offers in-person or telehealth appointments which are covered by insurance and no provider referral required. A national resource with several online support groups is Postpartum Support International.

🗝️ Hire a Doula

When you hire your doula to walk with you in your pregnancy and birth journey, they are there to provide the emotional support you need when attempting a VBAC. Your doula should be well-versed in physiological birth and confident in helping you understand how movement through positional changes work with the anatomy of labor. Your doula helps you formulate and articulate what your goals and preferences are when creating your birth plan. Your doula prepares you and your birth partner on how to effectively communicate with your birth team to ensure you feel supported every step of the way, while still feeling safe during your labor. When you hire a doula with Central Carolina Doulas, this is the consistent experience you will feel with every member of our team. We also offer in-person childbirth education classes to help you and your birth partner prepare together.

Ready to prepare for your VBAC? Contact us for a free consultation on our birth support services or to book your childbirth class today!

Confused by the terms and acronyms?

Here is a list that may be helpful as you research what the best choice is for your next childbirth:

  • CBAC: Cesarean Birth After Cesarean (typically when TOLAC results in cesarean)
  • C-Section: Cesarean Section
  • ERCS: Elective Repeat Cesarean Section
  • TOLAC: Trial of Labor After Cesarean
  • VBAC: Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
  • V2BAC: 2 Vaginal Births After Cesarean
  • VBA2C: Vaginal Birth After 2 Cesareans
  • VBAMC: Vaginal Birth After Multiple Cesareans

Additional Resources:


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About Central Carolina Doulas

There’s a good chance that you found Central Carolina Doulas because you’re seeking an exceptional birth and parenting experience. We invite you to see how our team of doulas can help you confidently prepare to welcome and care for your new baby.