24 answers

Planned C-section After an Unplanned C-section

Hey moms,
Well, I have a very important decision to make: VBAC or Planned C-section? My questions today are about having a planned c-section. If you were in this situation, what was your recovery like the second time around, compared to your first unplanned c-section. Are you happy that you made this decision? My doctor is giving me the options, letting me know pros and cons of both. There is a one percent chance of uterine rupture, however it is not always fatal. I just cannot decide what to do. Luckily I still have about 19 weeks until my due date, but please any advice/experience in this area of a planned c-s are appreciated! Thank you!

What can I do next?

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I did the VBAC and it was a piece of cake.. with an epidural frosting. I preferred the VBAC because I felt like more of an active part of the birthing than with the C-section. Whatever you decide, the outcome will be the same.. another wonderful blessing in your life! Congratulations on your family expansion. :)

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One way to think about it is that a 1% chance of uterine rupture is a 99% chance of it not rupturing - which is a pretty great statistic! I had to have a C-section with my DD because she was breech and unfortunately will probably have to have another due to a uterine anomaly (the reason she was breech). I WISH I could have a VBAC and I think it's great that you're exploring your options. Make sure you look up stats on complications from C-sections when you do your research (staph infections etc). Having major surgery always involves risk. Just because Cesareans are performed all the time doesn't mean they're "safe" - or any safer than a VBAC. Part of why we are led to believe they are safer is doctor mentality. Doctors are trained to deal with problems, to see everything that could go wrong and often a normal vaginal birth is the last thing they expect. (Not knocking doctors here - we NEED them to know how to deal with all the complications).

Check out this website: ican-online.net - the International Cesarean Awareness Network. I think it could be really helpful in your decision making process. Good luck - enjoy your pregnancy and however you choose to give birth.

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Hi B.

My first born was an emergancy c-sec. 12 years later I became pregnant again. Alot older this time and because of my age they wanted to do a procedure that would give me a 1% chance of miscarrage. They gave me the option of having the procedure or not. I based my decision on this someone has to be in that 1% and I didn't want it to be me. I did not have the procedure I was lucky and have a beautiful 3 year old daughter.

just a thought I don't mean to scare you.


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My "kids" are 26,23 and 20 so they aren't really kids any longer.
My 1st, James, was an unplanned c-section. Breach presntation w/ "water" leaking. We planned a VBAC, I labored long and hard but Niki just didn't come. They broke my water and I progressed to 5+ but no further. There was an internal and external fetal monitor in place. Her fetal heart beat dropped each time I had a hard contraction. When they broke my water there was muconium(sp? fetal poo) in it, meaning fetal distress. As soon as a c-section was suggested I couldn't wait for the saddle block; end of lots of hrs of severe pain. Ries,("Reese") was by c-section also. The Dr on duty felt that w/ my history and that I've got narrow bone girth in the hips, I shouldn't labor.
I've been told by moms who have had both types of deliveries that c-section is "easier."
Why did you have the unplanned c-section?
Best wishes, which ever way you decide.

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Hi B.,

I had an emergency c-section with my first baby & everything went fine. With my second baby, I really wanted the v-bac & my good friend had a successful v-bac with her second baby. I went into labor on my own & went into the hospital to labor, but after 12 hours or so, I was very slow to progress & the babies heart rate was dropping with each contraction- which was the reason for the first c-section. My Dr. said that we were not in an emergency situation yet, but that if I continued to progress at that rate & the baby's heart rate continued to drop, I would need another c-section. I talked it over with my husband & decided to just go for the c-section at that point instead of worrying for another few hours. The recovery after the second c-section was much quicker than the first because I knew what to expect & what to do to help myself recover. With the first birth, I stayed in the hospital for 3 or 4 days, with the second I left after 48 hours exactly. I just wanted to get out of that hospital & be with my family at home & I was feeling fine. Now, I'm having my 3rd baby in 3 weeks, & I have a c-section scheduled because my hospital will not do a v-bac after 2 c-sections & I'm fine with that. I'm a little worried because with a planned c-section you get a spinal block instead of an epidural & I don't know what that's going to feel like (you can apparently get terrible headaches from leaking spinal fluid) or how it might effect my ability to nurse right after birth, but I'm thrilled to be skipping the labor this time around! I am glad that I tried for the v-bac, because I really wanted it, but if you go for it, just be prepared that it might not work out as you hoped & be open to any changes you might have to make during labor.

C. : )

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B. I'll tell you what was ultimately on my mind when I went through this. I wanted to experience a VBAC more than anything as I felt I was missing out on something when I found myself faced with a c-section the first time around. But when I started thinking about it more I realized that even if the chance of a rupture was really low, it would end up being at the top of my mind during labor. Meaning, all I would be thinking about was "is it going to rupture with this contraction?" Also, there is a chance that you'll be forced into a C-section regardless of how hard you attempt that VBAC anyway. So for peace of mind and of course safety reasons, I chose a planned c-section. Now everyone recovers differently, but I feel my recovery was slightly better, faster the second time around. I was pleased with my decision afterwards. Even though I never got a chance to experience labor and delivery the natural way, my baby was out and in my arms in 30 minutes. She was healthy, we were safe and everyone was happy. I hope this helps a little. Good luck to you in making this difficult decision.

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Well, my first c-section was not planned, but my next two were. I decided to have my other two children by c-section, b/c I did not want to go through the labor again, and end up having to have a c-section. I was also worried about rupturing, even though the chances were slim. I have to say that I really liked the planned c-sections. I went in early in the morning, went through the prep, and then not long after I had the baby. Recovery was much better the second and third time around. It wasn't easy =), but it was better. I hope all goes well with your birth, how ever you choose to do it. Congratulations on your new addition to your family!


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I think it's incredibly sad and depressing to see so many responses leaning towards a repeat cesarean. You have a 4x greater risk of dying in a cesarean than you do in a vaginal birth. Your baby has a 10 fold greater risk of respiratory distress from a cesarean, than he/she does in a vaginal birth. Let's not forget the MRSA infections that have been going on in the hospitals. Our maternal death rate is the highest it's been in *decades*, and so is our c-section rate. It's NOT a coincidence.

You have a less than 1% chance of a rupture, no matter how close in age your babies are. That means a 99.3-99.7% chance of NOT rupturing. On the other hand, you have a very high chance of having problems after the cesarean, especially because it's your second. Your risks go up dramatically for things like placenta previa, accreta, and scar tissue and adhesion build up if you plan on more babies after this one.

I am a VBAC mama. I actually had my VBAC baby at home with a very skilled midwife. And I'm SO glad I did. I was up the next day, feeling amazing. I wasn't hobbling around trying to recover from an incision in my belly. And my baby was almost 11 lbs and posterior. So I had a very hard labor. It was only 19 months after my cesarean. I'd do it all over again if it means not having ***major abdominal surgery***.

If you go the VBAC route, I'd highly recommend finding a midwife. OBs are surgeons first and foremost. They handle pregnancy and birth as an illness, something that has to be "managed", rather than what it is....a normal, physiological process.

Do your baby a favor and give him/her a safer birth. Give yourself a safer birth.

<b>Recently, ACOG stated that VBAC is safer than repeat cesarean and VBAC with more than one previous cesarean does not pose any increased risk.2
2. ACOG, Midwifery Today, Winter No 36, page 47</b>






Do some thorough research hon...don't go off of other people's experiences. Often women who have had repeat cesareans try to justify it and make themselves feel better by saying it was no big deal. They don't call it major abdominal surgery for nothing.

Depending on where you are as well, we have ICAN meetings in Fullerton ( CA ) every first Wed. of the month. ( Except January due to people's schedules ). If you're interested, message me. Good luck in your search!

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Hi. i have been in your shoes not 1 time not 2 times but 3 times. i am a mom of 4 beautiful children. My first child was an unplanned c section. when i became pregnant with my second we had to make the same decision. i chose the planned c section. There are some complications with v bac. for one whatever the reason was you had your first child by c section could repeat itself the second time around. In my case i did not dialate past 4 1/2 cm. second doctors say you can tear and blled in the uterus more easily. that can lead to an emergency hysterectomy. ask your doctor about the other complications with it. there is a whole list of them. honestly, I had 4 c's and the recovery was just fine for all of them. yes you are a little sore from the stitches but how sore would you be aftter giving birth with an episiotomy? that seems worse to me. As you know you stay in the hospital for 4 days with a c which is truly a blessing especially the second time around. Caring for a young child while taking care of a newborn can be challenging. My advice is go for the c section. Less complications, you choose the due date so you can prepare child care for your other child and I think less pain all around. Good luck!


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I have had two c-sections. One thing to consider is... your first baby wasnt that long ago which increses your risk of a uturine rupture. Mine were 20 months apart and because my twins were so young I enjoyed having it planned. I knew that they were being taken care of and my family was able to plan time around the date to come help me out. I went for the second c-section for the convinence. With toddelers around, they were packed and ready to go, they got to come to the hospital and they were at my house with Grandma before I evne got home. I was also given the choice and through A LOT of rescreach found out that most ruptures are when there is less then 3 years between c-sections. The healing from the second i thought was easier, b/c I knew what to expect and I knew I had to be a mommy to 3 kids. I did have family with me for the firat week to help with everything. Hope this helps and good luck

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I had a planned C-section twice my First just was too big for me to do naturally. I had my secong because I was afraid to be honest. The uterine rupture scared me. I also got a tubaligation at the same time . My healing process with my second was so hard.I did not have another child to chase and pick up all the time with my first C-section. I was also told that the Tubal itself is very painful so that added to my veryhard to manage pain. Not sure how true this is but Well there ya have mine I hope it helps.

Hi Brook,

Here's my story. 1st preg (4 years ago) was high risk. I had holes in my placenta, pre-eclaympsia that turned to hellp syndrome after my daughter was born. She was breech so c-section it was. I had a rough recovery not because of the c/s but because of the HELLP Syndrome and high blood pressure 8 weeks PP. My 2nd pg (18 months ago) I decided just to focus on myself and my family. I did prenatal yoga and walked the hills everyday. We decided that I would shoot for a VBAC if I went into to labor on my own and things were smooth. I kept an open mind but still scheduled a c/s date. I told my doc not to tell me the date until the end of my preg. My pregnancy was easy and healthy but by the time my date rolled around at 39 1/2 weeks nothing was happening to me. No dilation, baby wasn't coming down at all and her head was cocked to one side (remember the first was breech). My doc reminded me that thier could be a reason why the first was breech and this baby is cocked to one side. The day before my c/s my doc gave me a choice of going in and having the c/s or waiting it out and taking a chance that the baby would come out naturally. We chose the c/s. My c/s was so EASY! I was up and walking in no time. I was out of the hospital in two days. I actually pooped within 24 hours! The first time it took me 4 days to go to the bathroom. WOW! I am so glad I made the choice of having the c/s. It is up to you but just keep an open mind. I have never regretted not pushing the baby out. I still feel like I gave birth to my babies and they are healthy little buttons. Good Luck!

I had a VBAC, so I can't really answer your question. But if you do want to know about my VBAC, just PM me! =-)

ETA: I take serious offense when women say they picked repeat c-section over VBAC because "they would have loved to have given birth vaginally, but didn't want it bad enough to risk their baby's life!" As if women who choose VBAC are doing it because they just really want to pop a baby out of their vagina, and don't care at all about the well being of their child. I researched for months before even considering becoming pregnant, and I continued to read and research until the day I gave birth (with my vagina, no less!) to my beautiful, healthy, 8lb 14oz baby boy. Women who say that they chose cesarean because “they didn’t want to risk their baby” are clearly misinformed, because they are insinuating that there are no risks involved with a cesarean. There are risks to the baby with a VBAC, and there are also risks to the baby with a cesarean. In fact, there is no way to give birth that is 100% risk free. I would never think a mom is being careless with her baby's safety because she is choosing repeat cesarean, and I'll thank women who do choose cesarean not to suggest that I, who chose a VBAC, just wanted to give birth vaginally and didn't base my decision on what I felt was safest for my baby.

Please don't think this is directed at anyone who replied here. It's just something I hear and read a lot and it (obviously) gets me riled.

I had an emergecy c-section with my first (who is 21 months) and then a planned c section with my 2nd (who is 9 months old). They were born 12 months apart. The healing was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH QUICKER the second time!!! I highly recommend it! Of course, if you go into labor or your water breaks (like mine did) - you will have to just go in and have a c-section on an unplanned day... but it was a WONDERFUL experience for me!

I have had two previous c/s and am expecting baby #3 the end of Feb. With my first i had an unplanned c/s after 3 1/2 days of labor, only making it to 8 cm. I planned a c/s with my second (5 yrs after the first) because I didnt know there was any other option. My recovery from the second one was far worse then the first even though I knew what pain level to expect. I had issues with the spinal and still have to this day (3 1/2 yrs later) permanent numbness down my left leg. With this pregnancy, I really did a lot of research before becoming pregnant and have decided for my situation to do a home VBAC with a very experienced midwife who has a back up emergency plan and will avoid all the interventions the hospital will use that INCREASE labor pain and chances for rupture and emergency c/s. Obviously in the minority from reading the other posts. This has been met with lots of resistance from the medical field and even those in our family. With my prior experience with my c/s i really feel like there are greater risks from a scheduled c/s then to attempt to do a vaginal birth. I know that i may still end up with a c/s but at least i have done what i can to avoid all the complications that many doctors wont even talk about that come along with a c/s. If you do plan to do a repeat c/s I would at least allow your body to go into labor first. I know that sounds crazy, but there has been lots of research that shows that babies benefit greatly from the labor process (respiratory issues mainly with the lungs having the most time to mature) and then you also know that a baby will not be born prematurely from wrong dates and picking a c/s date that is 2 weeks prior to the due date.

It is obviously a personal decision, but I would make sure you do lots of research on not only the risks associated with VBACs that all the doctors seem to emphasis, but would also do research on the risks and complications that could arise from a c/s. Best of luck, I know personally it was not a decision that I came to lightly and had to do lots of soul searching before I became comfortable with my decision. Happy pregnancy. :)


My recovery after my second unplanned C-section was harder than my first, but it wasnt the end of the world. There was more pain during the recovery but it wasn't unmanageble (and was nothing compared to labor) and I think the pain lasted maybe 4 or 5 days longer.

Nothing to lose in trying a VBAC. You know what to expect if you need to complete the birth with a c-section. It's great to have choices! I personally am much more at ease having experienced an er c-section. I'll try a VBAC but if I need to do another c, I'll be ready and willing.

Peace and Blessings,
B. Brooks
28 hrs hard labor, dilated to 4cm, meconium pasted, ER c-section

Hi Brook, I was in your situation. My first son was born via unplanned c-section and my recovery time was very slow since I had gone through 33 hours of labor first. I opted for the planned c-section with my second son this past May and honestly, I'm so glad i went with it. My recovery time was incredibly fast. My doctor was right when he told me that since my body was fully rested, I'd heal faster. Yes, it was scary going in to the hospital that day, but the whole operation took about 20 minutes and I had my beautiful baby boy. I was surprised how much more energy I had just days after he was born. I was also more energetic after I got home which was a plus since I also had to take care of my 4 year old!

Whatever you decide, it's your decision and you'll know what's right for you. Good luck!


Well, I had an emergency c-section with my first baby because of fetal distress. When I became pregnant for the second time, I was given the option of normal delivery or repeated c-section. I opted for normal delivery but towards the end of my pregnancy I became scared and changed my mind and decided to have a c-section. After my second c-section the doctor came to see me in the recovery room and said I was very lucky and it was good that I had opted for repeated c-section because they noted that my scar from the first c-section was not healed properly and my uterus on the right side scar was paper thin, If I had gone into labor it could have ruptured, which means alot of danger for me and the baby. SO, with that said, I don't want to scare you, that was just my personal experience and I know that it is rare to have that happen. I recovered well from the c-section, it just seemed harder because this time there was another child in the house besides the one I had just had. Well, I had a third child and of course I had a c-section and they didn't let me go to full term because of my previous history. So I hope you decide what's right for you and put yourself in the Lord's hands. Again, what happened to me is not common.

I am in the process of becomming a childbirth educator so I just want to add the fact that our bodies are made to give birth, and labor serves countless benifits for both you and your baby.( too many to mention here) From the responses I'm reading and what I've researched many women lose faith in their bodies ability to give birth after experiencing a c-section. I would advise you to research and utilize the many resourses on VBAC and check out www.childbirthconnection.org
I am incredibly grateful for the the ability to have a cesarian when needed, but first and foremost I believe childbirth is a sacred event that can be the most empowering of your life. I hope you find the support you are looking for and have a wonderful birthday!!! Have you looked into childbirth classes? Last thing, there is a dvd called It's my body my baby my birth, that I think is great. www.itsmybodymybabymybirth.com

Hi Brook,

My 1st son was a planned c-section because he was breech. My 2nd (4.5 years later), I was open to having a VBAC and tried to find as much info I could. We scheduled a c-section, just in case. As I got closer to the scheduled c/s my Dr. told me that nothing much was happening, so I decided to have the c/s. I felt great after and was up as soon as they told me to walk around. I did have a complication. I had a seroma, which is fluid build up under the incision. My incision opened up ~ 1 inch and I had to wait for that to heal. It wasn't that big of deal for me. I still would have had the planned c/s. My 3rd, I decided early on that I would have a c/s. The c/s was planned 10 days before the due date. But, surprise, my water broke and I went into labor 10 days before the scheduled c/s (3 weeks before the due date). I still had a c-section. The recovery the 3rd time was fine (no incision problems). I had my last one at 39. Now, my kids are 4.5 years apart, so I didn't have a toddler needing to be picked up. I would definately talk to your dr. about what would be best for you. Discuss why you had a c/s the 1st time around. My pelvis is small and that may be why my 1st one was breech, so even if I tried a VBAC I may have ended up with a c-section anyway. I am very happy with my decision to have 3 c-sections and I don't feel like I missed out on pushing a baby out vaginally. I feel blessed to have 3 healthy kids. I was also afraid of uterine rupture, so that helped in making my decision. Good Luck!

I just wanted to say thanks for asking the question. I had an unplanned C/S with my first and am not yet pregnant again. My first is 15 months. This is certainly a concern for me.

Hi - I have had 3 c-sections. My recovery was the same from the 1st to the 2nd c-section. It's really important to get up and walk as soon as you can and that helps your recovery. My 1st one wasn't planned, he was just way too big. My second one was planned, however, I went into labor the day before my c-section, but the doctors decided it was best for the c-section because the 1st baby was big.

Hope that helps.

Any surgery is a harder recuperation than a vaginal birth. You will be much quicker to heal than having your abdomen tore open. What does your doctor think?

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