Pregnancy after C-section

Pregnancy after a C-section is generally a lot like pregnancy before a C-section, except for the fact that, if you were a first-time mom the last time, you might be a bit more familiar with everything this time around. However, there are a few things that can be a bit different about pregnancy the next time around after a C-section, and knowing what those differences are early on can help you avoid some worry.

When is it safe to get pregnant after a C-section?

According to the Mayo Clinic and ACOG guidelines, it may be safest to wait until at least 18 months after a C-section to conceive, as women who conceive sooner than that, especially less than 12 months, may run a higher risk of uterine rupture, or tearing along the scar from the C-section, especially when attempting a vaginal birth. Other reasons include having enough time to fully physically recover, replenishing iron and other nutritional stores, and a lower risk of complications like preterm labor or having a baby that is small for its gestational age. It’s worth keeping an especially close eye on these pregnancies, though, just to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

You should talk to your healthcare provider about when it’s safe to conceive after a C-section if this is something that’s on your mind.

How does a previous C-section affect pregnancy?

Women who have had C-sections for previous pregnancies may experience some pain along the incision scar as the scar tissue from the C-section stretches as the uterus and the skin of the abdomen grows.

This pain is often perfectly normal, and generally goes away on its own. But if it’s persistent, worsening, causing concern, or the pain is getting in the way of day-to-day tasks, don’t hesitate to check in with your healthcare provider about safe pain management, or anything else that might be wrong.

How can a previous C-section affect birth?

Women giving birth after a previous C-section generally have two choices – either a trial of labor after C-section (TOLAC) or another C-section. TOLACs are often safe choices for delivery, but successive C-sections are more common, and there are drawbacks to both. Planning on a vaginal birth can lead to disappointment because, like with all births, even women who look like very good candidates for TOLACs sometimes face unexpected complications during delivery and end up undergoing C-sections anyway.

On the other hand, the risks associated with C-sections grow with each successive surgery. And each C-section leaves more scar tissue that makes a vaginal birth later less likely. So women who think they might want to have several more children are often encouraged to try for a vaginal delivery if they can.

You should always talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about getting pregnant after a C-section.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Family planning: Get the facts about pregnancy spacing.” MayoClinic. Mayo Clinic. April 15 2014. Web.
  • NIH Consensus Development Conference on Vaginal Birth After Cesarian: Final Panel Statement. “Vaginal Birth After Cesarian: New Insights.” Obstetrics & Gynecology. Vol. 115, No. 6, June 2010, pp. 1279-1295. Web. March 8-10 2010.
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