VBAC: Participation During Birth

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Topic Overview

You and your birth partner can take part more fully in a vaginal birth than you can in a cesarean delivery.

During a cesarean, the mother gets either a regional anesthetic or a general anesthetic. She can't fully take part in her baby's birth.

  • Some mothers feel very strongly about being able to bond with the baby right after birth. Unless there is some complication, a mother can usually hold her baby within the first few minutes after a vaginal birth. After a cesarean, the mother's time with her baby may be briefly delayed as her surgery is completed. This delay can be longer if she stays in the recovery room for a time after the birth.
  • When a general anesthetic is used, the mother is unconscious through her baby's birth. This most often happens during an emergency cesarean.
  • If regional anesthetic is used during a cesarean, the mother stays awake. But she may not be as actively involved in the birth as during a natural birth or a birth without using medicines. If she gets sedatives, she may be groggy. Or she may fall asleep or not remember much about the birth.

Whether you plan a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or a repeat cesarean, discuss anesthesia options with your doctor before your delivery.

If you have a routine cesarean, your birth partner can hold the baby while your medical needs are taken care of.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014