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VBAC: Participation During Birth

Topic Overview

You and your birth partner can participate more fully in a vaginal birth than you can in a cesarean delivery.

During a cesarean delivery, the mother receives either a regional anesthetic or a general anesthetic and cannot fully participate in her baby's birth.

  • Some mothers feel very strongly about being able to bond with the baby immediately after birth. Unless there is some complication, a mother can usually hold her baby within the first few minutes after a vaginal birth. After a cesarean, the mother's time with her baby may be briefly delayed as her surgery is completed. This delay can be extended if she remains in the recovery room for a time afterward.
  • When a general anesthetic is used, usually during an emergency cesarean, the mother is unconscious through her baby's birth.
  • If regional anesthetic is used during a cesarean, the mother remains awake but may not be as actively involved in the birth as during a natural birth or a birth without using medicines. If sedatives are given, she may be groggy, fall asleep, or not remember much about the birth.

Whether you plan a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) or a repeat cesarean delivery, discuss anesthesia options with your doctor before your delivery.

If you have a routine cesarean delivery, your birth partner can hold the baby while your medical needs are taken care of.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised March 29, 2013

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