After previous Caesarean, natural birth can be considered. Here’s how
Caesarean rates are increasing globally with almost half of decisions on whether to deliver by Caesarean based on previous Caesarean delivery.
In over 90 per cent of women who have previously had a caesarian, a natural birth may be possible, suggests new research.
The study was published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
When given detailed information on the risks and benefits associated with the different delivery options, expectant mothers were more likely to choose vaginal birth following a previous Caesarean rather than repeat Caesarean delivery.
Dr Kaname Uno, author of the study based at Toyota Memorial Hospital, Japan said: “Cesarean rates are increasing globally with almost half of decisions on whether to deliver by Caesarean based on previous Caesarean delivery. A trial of labour after Caesarean (TOLAC) is considered a safe option, but most eligible women instead undergo repeat Caesarean. This may be due to a lack of sufficient education on the risks and benefits of both types of delivery.”
The authors analysed data from April 2005 to August 2017 of 1,086 pregnant women with at least one previous Caesarean delivery. Of these, 735 expectant mothers were eligible for TOLAC. They were provided with detailed explanations of the risks and benefits of TOLAC and repeat Caesarean delivery. Each of the women was asked to consider both modes of delivery and make an informed decision at 34 weeks’ gestation.
Dr Uno said: “A potential risk for a vaginal birth after previous Caesarean is uterine rupture, which can occur along healed incisions from previous Caesarean deliveries. However, Caesarean births themselves carry a risk of bleeding, infection and other complications. The benefits of successful TOLAC include a reduced risk of bleeding, infection and an improved outcome for future pregnancies.”
Of the 735 expectant mothers, 471 (64.1%) opted for TOLAC and 264 (35.9%) opted for repeat Caesarean. Among the 471 women who chose TOLAC, 430 (91.3%) women had a successful vaginal birth, while 41 (8.7%) were classified as ‘failed TOLAC’ and delivered via Caesarean after they were unable to deliver vaginally due to complications. Of this group, three women (0.6%) experienced uterine rupture but no maternal or neonatal deaths occurred. Premature rupture of membranes, prior to contractions starting, and gestation over 40 weeks were significant risk factors for failed TOLAC. In the study, 96.4% of women with a history of vaginal delivery had successful TOLAC. The results confirm previous studies indicating that labour after Caesarean can be a safe alternative to repeat Caesarean deliveries.
Dr Uno said: “Opting for vaginal birth following the previous Caesarean may increase the length of gestation, with an associated decrease in the risk of potential health complications for the child. The results suggest that health professionals should be encouraged to have ongoing discussions with expectant mothers about the risks and benefits associated with each mode of delivery, allowing them to make their own informed choices.”
The authors caution that as the group sizes evaluated in the study were directly dependent on the choice of each expectant mother, results may be affected by individual bias, previous experiences and regionality and therefore may not be widely generalisable. As only three women experienced uterine rupture, further investigation is needed to evaluate this as a potential complication.
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