Women must often choose between a vaginal birth after previous cesarean and elective repeat cesarean delivery. Short-term risks of vaginal birth after cesarean can be potentially catastrophic in the setting of uterine rupture. Although randomized controlled trials comparing these 2 modes of delivery are lacking, observational studies suggest an increased risk of perinatal mortality and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in infants whose mothers undergo a trial of labor. These rare risks compete with more common, albeit less severe, short-term risks associated with elective repeat cesarean delivery, with a particular emphasis on increased respiratory morbidities. Further studies are needed to identify potential strategies to improve perinatal outcomes and help guide physicians and patients in choosing optimal methods of delivery.
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