Make a Donation
     Connect with UsFacebookTwitterYouTube
    Google Custom Search

    Questions? Ask Henci!

    Find out what other moms-to-be are asking. Join in the discussion with Henci Goer, whose expertise is determining what the research tells us best promotes safe, healthy birth. If you would like to contact Henci outside of the Ask Henci forum, send an email to

    You must establish a username and password to participate in the Ask Henci forum, click here to submit your request.

    Jul 14

    VBAC after "Failure to Progress"

    Archived User

    Hi there,

    I was so glad to see on Twitter that you are taking VBAC questions - thank you for your time!


    I had a planned-the-day-before C-section at 41.5 weeks due to "large" baby who had not dropped/engaged while I had not dilated. If I had to do it over, I would likely not have made this decision, but I was led to believe at the time that this was the best choice for my baby.


    Fast forward 3 years, and I am obviously with a different practice. Finally met with the OB who has privileges at the hospital that allows VBACs yesterday. He mentioned among the other risks that if I didn't engage last time, I am even less likely to this time due to being 3 years older (I am 36). Is there any truth to this? It's something I'm having a hard time finding stats on.


    Right now I'm taking a wait and see approach, but I would love your insight - it's been hard to find information that doesn't lean one way or the other.



    Henci Goer

    I am not a clinician, and the question you pose isn't one on which I'm aware of any research. That being said, I don't think engagement before labor means much one way or the other. Even lack of engagement well into active labor, while not what you want to see, doesn't mean vaginal birth is unlikely. Case in point: my daughter-in-law, just yesterday, gave birth to her first child, my beautiful 8 lb 15 oz grandson. When labor began, he was at -1 station, i.e. 1 cm above the ischial spines ("engaged" is 0 station, i.e. at the level of the ischial spines). At one point in the labor, he had retreated to -2 station. I won't say her labor wasn't long and difficult, but, nonetheless, he was a spontaneous vaginal birth. If she had had your doctor, she would probably now be recovering from her cesarean.

    I find it concerning that this ob seems to be discouraging VBAC. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for obs to agree early in pregnancy to VBAC, but then, as the pregnancy progresses to become more and more negative on the idea in hopes of persuading the woman out of it, and eventually to come up with some reason to refuse if she doesn't cave in. Your best chance for a VBAC is having a practitioner who is enthusiastic and encouraging and who believes you can do it until proven otherwise. The questions I would have for your doctor are: "What percentage of your patients with prior cesareans choose VBAC?" and "What percentage of women who opt for VBAC have vaginal births?" Ideally, the answer to the first question should be "most of them" and, based on VBAC rates in the research, the answer to the second question should be "3/4 of them." Beyond that, I would inquire about any restrictions or limitations your ob has. You want to find out if your ob practices what I call "the Cinderella VBAC": "You can have a VBAC if the baby isn't too big, and if you go into labor by your due date, and if you make at least 1 cm progress and hour, and if . . ." You get the picture. If it turns out this ob isn't what you hoped, I would check out the other practitioners.

    -- Henci  

    Archived User

    Thank you for your reply, and congrats on your grandbaby!

    All Times America/New_York

    Forum Disclaimer

    Please note that this Forum is intended to help women make informed decisions about their care. The content is not a substitute for medical advice.

    Copyright 2015 Lamaze International. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement | Terms of Use