In 2018 I had an amazing home birth with my daughter Ursula. I’d had a very straightforward and uncomplicated pregnancy, and my home birth was just as simple. Four years later and I’m preparing for another home birth with my son and it got me thinking. Could just about anyone have a wonderful home birth experience like I did if they wanted to? For example, can you have a home birth after c-section?
It is completely possible to have a home birth after c-section (HBAC) in the UK. You are legally entitled to give birth at home if you choose to, no matter your birthing history. However, many midwives and obstetricians will recommend that you choose to birth at hospital if you’ve had a c-section before.
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What are the risks of natural birth after C-section?
Although you have the right to choose a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) including a home birth, like everything in life it’s not without risk. The main problems that can arise in any vaginal or natural birth after a c-section are:
- A 1 in 200 chance that the scar from your c-section will rupture or tear. The chance of this happening increases by 2 to 3 times if your labour is medically induced (which wouldn’t be the case at a home birth, of course). However if it seems as though the scar might rupture, your midwife would probably advise a transfer to hospital for another caesarean.
- Slightly increased chance of needing a blood transfusion.
- Increased chance of delivery via forceps or ventouse (vacuum cup) if you are in hospital.
- A 25% chance of needing an emergency c-section. This is only slightly higher than women giving birth for the first time and you are considerably less likely to need one if you plan your natural birth to happen at home.
- Risk of tearing to the anus.
- A higher chance of a stillbirth or brain injury to your baby than if you chose another c-section. However, the risk is very low and the same as it is for women having their first baby.
It’s important to remember that all births carry a risk with them and that “risk” is another word for “chance”. If you have had a straightforward pregnancy, you stand a very good chance of having a straightforward, natural birth.
Can you push a baby after a c-section?
Yes, your body is still capable of pushing and birthing your baby naturally (vaginally) after a c-section. In fact, if you prepare well and use hypnobirthing techniques you will probably be able to breathe your baby out with more ease.
Find out below how Ella of Deliciously Ella fame used KG Hypnobirthing techniques for a positive natural birth experience. You can also check out my hypnobirthing article if you’d like to learn more about this powerful natural childbirth technique.
Can I have a natural birth after two C-sections?
Yes, you can try for a natural birth and home birth after two c-sections after consulting with your healthcare team. However it is not recommended to try for a VBAC after three or more caesarean deliveries.
What is the VBAC success rate in the UK?
The success rate for a planned VBAC in the UK is between 72-75%. This rises to an impressive 85-90% if you’ve had a previous natural vaginal birth. Those are both pretty good odds and definitely worth you feeling confident about.
Are VBACs worth the risk?
Only you can truly weigh up the risks of having a home birth after c section, as you know your previous medical history. But to help you decide if your own VBAC or HBAC is worth the risks, here are the many benefits:
- A successful VBAC or HBAC means less likelihood of complications than having an elective repeat caesarean section (ERCS).
- Your baby is less likely to have breathing difficulties in the days after birth.
- A vaginal birth gives baby positive immune system benefits. The good bacteria in the vagina helps them develop a strong microbiome and overall health.
- Your recovery will be easier and shorter.
- If you give birth in a hospital, you are likely to be sent home earlier.
- Any future babies will be more likely to be born vaginally.
- You avoid all the risks associated with major surgery.
Can you have a water birth with a VBAC?
Yes, you can have a water birth with a VBAC and home birth after c-section. It’s best to discuss this with your healthcare provider as, depending on your circumstances, they may recommend continuous monitoring of your baby. This is not always possible with a water birth.
How do I prepare my uterus for a VBAC?
One of the most common traditional ways of preparing the uterus for natural childbirth is drinking red raspberry leaf tea. It is reputed to strengthen the uterine walls and get them ready for contractions. Drinking is only considered safe after week 32 of your pregnancy and for no more than two weeks at a time. Breastfeeding may be affected with longer term use.
For more tips on preparing your body for a natural birth, check out my article on doing exactly that.
Are home births safe?
Yes, home births are completely safe. In fact, for women who have already given birth, they are safer than a hospital birth for a first time mum.
If you’d like to find out more about the safety and benefits of a home birth, check out my essential guide to giving birth at home.
I hope you’ve found my guide to home birth after c-section useful. I’d love to hear from you if you go on to have a positive home birth experience. Please do get in touch and let me know how it went! Meanwhile, wishing you all the best on your birthing journey.