Becky recently ask this question on the VBAC Facts Community:”I read somewhere that the risk of uterine rupture is actually higher during pregnancy than during birth. Does anyone have a source for this?”
While these statements are very comforting, as birth myths tend to be, they are false comparisons. We can accurately and fairly compare the risks of a TOLAC to the risks of a repeat cesarean or the risks of a first time time. However, it is a misleading to compare the risks of birth to non-birth events.
Some care providers discourage epidurals in VBAC moms fearing that it will mask the symptoms of uterine rupture (namely abdominal pain) and delay diagnosis resulting in a poor outcome for baby and to a lesser extent, mom Other care providers suggest or even require VBAC moms to have an epidural so that a cesarean can quickly take place if needed.
Spontaneous labor is always preferable to induced or augmented labor but there are medical conditions that can necessitate the immediate birth of a baby. It’s nice for those women for whom vaginal birth is still an option to have a choice: gentle induction/ augmentation or repeat cesarean. Of course, informed consent reviewing the risks and benefits of their options is essential. Some women might be more comfortable scheduling a cesarean whereas others might want to give a gentle Pitocin and/or Foley catheter induction a go.
“There is a major misperception that TOLAC [trial of labor after cesarean] is extremely risky” – Mona Lydon-Rochelle MD, March 2010. “In terms of VBAC, “your risk is really, really quite low” – George Macones MD, March 2010. Both Drs. Macones and Lyndon-Rochelle are obstetricians and researchers who made these statements at the 2010 NIH [National Institutes of Health] VBAC Conference. Now you may think, “Wait a sec. Everything I’ve heard from my family, friends, and medical provider is how risky VBAC is and how cesareans are the conservative, prudent, and safest choice.” Why the discrepancy between the statements of these two doctor researchers and the conventional wisdom prevalent in America?
The statistic “Only 6% of uterine ruptures are catastrophic” is from the Evidence Report (Guise 2010) which was the basis of the 2010 NIH VBAC Conference and it refers to the rate of infant death due to uterine rupture.