VBAC safer for elective repeat caesarean

For further information on VBAC or natural birth, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Ref: Obstet Gynecol. 2009;113:1231-1238.

Babies born after elective subsequent cesarean delivery have significantly higher rates of respiratory morbidity and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) admission and longer length of hospital stay vs those with vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) ...

"Controversy remains on whether a trial of labor or an elective repeat cesarean delivery is preferable for a woman with a history of cesarean delivery," write Beena D. Kamath, MD, MPH ...

... concerns regarding the increased risk of uterine rupture and perinatal asphyxia in trial of labor after cesarean compared with planned repeat cesarean have swayed obstetricians away from recommending a trial of labor after cesarean delivery; however, the absolute risk of perinatal asphyxia remains small."

The goals of this study were to compare the outcomes of neonates born by elective subsequent cesarean delivery vs VBAC in women with 1 previous cesarean delivery and to compare the cost differences between these procedures. The study cohort consisted of 672 women with 1 previous cesarean delivery and a singleton pregnancy at or after 37 weeks of gestation. Participants were categorized based on their intention to have an elective subsequent cesarean delivery or a VBAC, whether successful or failed. The main endpoints of the study were NICU admission and measures of respiratory morbidity.

Compared with the VBAC group, neonates born by cesarean delivery had higher NICU admission rates (9.3% vs 4.9%; P = .025). Rates of oxygen supplementation were also higher in the subsequent cesarean group for delivery room resuscitation (41.5% vs 23.2%; P < .01) and after NICU admission (5.8% vs 2.4%; P < .028). The rates of delivery room resuscitation with oxygen were lowest in neonates born by VBAC and highest in neonates delivered after failed VBAC.

Although the costs of elective subsequent cesarean delivery were significantly higher vs VBAC, the highest costs for the total birth experience were for failed VBAC, considering both delivery and NICU use.

"In comparison with vaginal birth after cesarean, neonates born after elective repeat cesarean delivery have significantly higher rates of respiratory morbidity and NICU-admission and longer length of hospital stay," the study authors write.

... this argues for greater selectivity in performing a cesarean delivery in the first place, and certainly a greater need for counseling before a primary elective cesarean delivery.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448