Vaginal birth after cesarean birth: A national survey of U.S. midwifery practice

Catherine A. Carr, Patricia Burkhardt, Melissa Avery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Midwives have been providing care for women choosing vaginal birth after cesarean birth (VBAC) for over 20 years. The 1999 American College of Obstetrician Gynecologist (ACOG) guidelines and recent studies questioning the relative safety of VBAC have raised concerns about continuing to offer this option. As part of an effort to understand VBAC care provided by midwives, this study used a national survey sample to examine practices, scope, and recent changes in the provision of VBAC care. The survey, which included demographic and practice items was mailed in late 2000 to a purposeful sample of 325 midwifery practices. The return rate was 62%. Nearly all (94%) of the responding practices were providing VBAC care, and almost half of them (43%) stated that their ability to do so had changed within the past 2 years secondary to recent studies in the obstetric literature, the 1999 ACOG statement, and concerns from third-party payers. Criteria for offering VBAC are stricter, and consent forms are more extensive. Other changes included the need for additional or more intensive support services, in-house anesthesia, and surgery backup. Midwives continue to provide VBAC care, although with some increased restrictions. This study provides background for future research that will determine how midwifery care affects the rate of successful VBACs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-352
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 10 2002
Externally publishedYes


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