Women's preference for vaginal birth after a first delivery by cesarean

Laura B. Attanasio, Katy B. Kozhimannil, Kristen H. Kjerulff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Nearly 90% of United States pregnant women with a prior cesarean give birth by repeat cesarean. Public health goals encourage greater use of vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), but there is little prospective data on predictors of women's preference for VBAC. We characterized predictors of women's preferred mode of delivery after a first cesarean and thematically categorized reasons for their preference. Methods: Data were from a cohort of 3006 women whose first childbirth was in Pennsylvania in 2009-2011. The analytic sample included women who had their first birth by cesarean and reported mode of delivery preference for their next delivery at 12 months postpartum (n = 616). Associations with future birth mode preference were assessed using multivariate logistic regression, and reasons for preference were categorized using content analysis. Results: At 12 months postpartum, 45% of women who delivered by cesarean in their first birth wanted to have their next delivery vaginally. Independent predictors of VBAC preference were Black race/ethnicity, nonrecurrent indication for the first cesarean, planning three or more additional children, and difficulty recovering from the first cesarean. The most common reason for preferring a vaginal birth was wanting the experience of vaginal birth; the most common reason for preferring cesarean birth was that the first birth was by cesarean. Conclusion: Nearly half of respondents preferred VBAC in future births, but national estimates indicate that only about 12% of women with prior cesareans have a VBAC. This suggests a need to ensure greater access to VBAC for women who want it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The First Baby Study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH (R01 HD052990).


  • mode of delivery preference
  • trial of labor
  • vaginal birth after cesarean


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