Healthy living

Next birth after a caesarean

Next birth after a caesarean

If you have had a baby by caesarean section there are two main options to consider for your next birth:

  • Vaginal Birth After caesarean (VBAC)
  • repeat caesarean
How you decide to give birth is your choice and this is not a decision you need to make on your own. 

You can discuss your options with your health care team to make sure the best decision is made for you and your baby.

What is a Vaginal Birth After caesarean (VBAC)?

Most women can consider having a vaginal birth after a caesarean. A vaginal birth is often referred to as a natural birth where your baby is born through the opening of your vagina. 

Benefits of vaginal birth 

  • Less blood loss.
  • No complications from surgery.
  • Reduced chance of infection.
  • Quicker recovery time.
  • Fewer complications for future pregnancies.
  • Less risk of the baby having breathing problems immediately after birth.

Risks of VBAC

As with any pregnancy there is always some risk involved. The most serious and most rare risk for VBAC is tearing along the caesarean scar. 

If a tear does occur there may be some internal bleeding. Some women may require a blood transfusion and/or hysterectomy. In very rare circumstances the baby may be harmed or die (this is extremely rare).  

To lessen the risk of a tear, spontaneous natural labour is preferred instead of induced labour (when labour is started artificially).

What is a repeat caesarean?

Although most women who have had a previous caesarean are eligible for a VBAC, some will need to have another caesarean for reasons related to the health and wellbeing of the mother or baby. Some women choose to have a repeat caesarean for personal reasons.

Benefits of caesarean

  • Some women may have medical conditions which make vaginal births dangerous or not possible. If this applies to you, a caesarean may be a safer option.
  • For women who are so highly fearful of childbirth that their mental health is affected, a caesarean may be the best option to ensure their anxiety is reduced.

Risks of caesarean

  • Increased likelihood of blood loss. Depending on the degree of bleeding, some women may require a blood transfusion and/or hysterectomy (although this is very rare).
  • Risk of complications associated with surgery, such as blood clots, scalpel cuts to the bladder or bowel.
  • Chance of wound infection.
  • Slower recovery time.
  • Increased likelihood of complications for future pregnancies, for example the placenta growing into the scar on the uterus which can lead to severe bleeding.
  • Increased risk of the baby having breathing problems and requiring admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
  • Increased likelihood of the baby having feeding problems.
  • Risk of scalpel cuts to the baby.


  • How you decide to give birth is your choice.
  • Talk to your health care team to make sure the best decision is made for you and your baby.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Ring healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
  • Ring Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) on 1300 726 306.
  • Ring the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby helpline on 1800 882 436.


Women and Newborn Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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