NWA Hospitals Adopt New VBAC Policies
Press Release: NWA Hospitals Adopt New VBAC Policies
Once a cesarean—next time a normal delivery
Northwest Arkansas—Following new guidelines released by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in July 2010, the Northwest Medical system has begun supporting the option of vaginal delivery for women who have had a previous cesarean section (known as vaginal birth after cesarean, or VBAC).
The ACOG recommendations state that VBAC is a safe and reasonable option for most women, including some women with multiple previous cesareans, twins, and unknown uterine scars. ACOG also states that respect for patient autonomy requires that even if an institution does not offer trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC), a cesarean cannot be forced, nor can care be denied if a woman declines a repeat cesarean during labor.
Northwest’s specific policies state that a woman is eligible for TOLAC if she has had one or two prior cesareans with low-transverse or low-vertical uterine incisions; that women expecting twins can be eligible; and that eligibility is not affected by whether a woman is scheduled for induction or prefers to wait for labor to begin on its own.
Mercy hospital administration has also stated that they will begin following the new VBAC guidelines, with specific criteria being formalized this month “in order for us to offer TOLAC safely at Mercy. We encourage women to discuss this with their physician.” Washington Regional Medical Center has not yet officially responded to the new guidelines, although Angela Watson, a coleader with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) of NWA, is hopeful that WRMC will also institute a policy change.
According to Watson, “In other VBAC-supportive hospitals in the U.S., at least 75% of women with one or two prior cesareans who attempt VBAC are successful. This high success rate shows that repeat cesareans are unnecessary for the majority of women. Based on this and other best-practice research evidence from all over the world, we have been working for several years to encourage local hospitals to lift their restrictions against VBAC. We are thrilled to see NWA women being offered the option of avoiding the risks and difficult recovery of a repeat cesarean.” Watson herself traveled to Fort Smith in December of 2009 in order to deliver her second baby via VBAC.
Says Genet Jones, a coleader with BirthNetwork of NWA, “This is a very positive and mother-friendly policy change, and we hope it leads more women and their providers into open discussions not only about VBAC, but about the many other evidence-based maternity and newborn care practices recommended by organizations such as Lamaze International, BirthNetwork National, La Leche League International, and the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services.”
For more information about the benefits of VBAC for mothers, babies, and future pregnancies, as well as about maternity care practices that women can request to increase the likelihood of successful vaginal delivery, contact ICAN of NWA or BirthNetwork NWA.