Objective: This study was undertaken to assess the safety of trial of labor after previous cesarean delivery.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study of 308,755 Canadian women with previous cesarean delivery between 1988 and 2000. Occurrences of in-hospital maternal death, uterine rupture, and other severe maternal morbidity were compared between women with a trial of labor and those with an elective cesarean section.
Results: Rates of uterine rupture (0.65%), transfusion (0.19%), and hysterectomy (0.10%) were significantly higher in the trial-of-labor group. Maternal in-hospital death rate, however, was lower in the trial-of-labor group (1.6 per 100,000) than in the elective cesarean section group (5.6 per 100,000). The association between trial of labor and uterine rupture was stronger in low volume (<500) than in high volume (> or =500 births per year) obstetric units.
Conclusion: Trial of labor is associated with increased risk of uterine rupture, but elective cesarean section may increase the risk of maternal death.