Washington Too many pregnant women who want to avoid a repeat cesarean delivery are being denied the chance, concludes a government panel that urged doctors to rethink litigation-spurred policies that have swung the pendulum back toward the days of “once a C-section, always a C-section.”
Fifteen years ago, nearly 3 in 10 women who had a first C-section were able to deliver their next baby vaginally, a trend called VBAC for “vaginal birth after cesarean.”
Now that rate has dropped to 1 in 10, in part because a third of hospitals and half of physicians ban women from attempting VBAC, a panel of specialists convened by the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday.
But VBAC remains a safe alternative for the right candidates, and when those women try labor, between 60 percent and 80 percent of the time they do give birth vaginally, the NIH panel concluded. It urged that doctors offer mothers-to-be an unbiased look at the pros and cons, so they can decide for themselves.
Nearly a third of U.S. births are by cesarean, an all-time high.