Mode of delivery for the morbidly obese with prior cesarean delivery: vaginal versus repeat cesarean section

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Aug;185(2):349-54. doi: 10.1067/mob.2001.116729.


Objective: We sought to describe the peripartum outcome of women weighing >300 pounds (135 kg) who were candidates for trial of labor after a prior cesarean delivery.

Study design: All pregnant women who weighed in excess of 300 pounds and had a prior cesarean delivery were included in this prospective investigation. Student t test, chi(2) analysis, or Fisher exact tests were used. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated. P <.05 was considered significant.

Results: During a 2-year period, 69 patients met the inclusion criteria; 39 (57%) underwent an elective repeat cesarean delivery, and 30 (43%) women attempted a vaginal delivery after prior cesarean delivery. The demographics of age, race, gravidity, maternal weight, and preexisting medical conditions were similar for the two groups. Vaginal birth after prior cesarean delivery occurred in 13% (4/30). Reasons for failure included a labor arrest disorder in 46%, fetal distress in 38%, and failed induction in 15%. The rates of endometritis and wound breakdown were higher in the women undergoing trial of labor (30% and 23%, respectively) than in those undergoing repeat elective cesarean delivery (20% and 8%). The combined infectious morbidity rate was significantly higher for women attempting trial of labor (53%) than those undergoing elective repeat cesarean delivery (28%; odds ratio 1.78, 95% confidence intervals 1.05, 3.02).

Conclusion: The success rate for a vaginal delivery in the morbidly obese woman with a prior cesarean delivery is less than 15%, and more than half of the patients undergoing a trial of labor have infectious morbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat*
  • Endometritis / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Distress
  • Heart Rate, Fetal
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections / epidemiology
  • Labor, Induced
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Puerperal Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Trial of Labor
  • Umbilical Arteries
  • Vaginal Birth after Cesarean*