Clinical interventions that increase the uptake and success of vaginal birth after caesarean section: a systematic review

J Adv Nurs. 2011 Aug;67(8):1646-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05635.x. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Aim: The aim of this study was to review clinical interventions that increase the uptake and/or the success rates of vaginal birth after caesarean section.

Background: Repeat caesarean section is the main reason for the increase in surgical births. The risk of uterine rupture in women who have prior caesarean sections prevents many clinicians from recommending vaginal birth after caesarean. Despite this, support for vaginal birth after caesarean continues.

Data sources: A search of five databases and a number of relevant professional websites was undertaken up to December 2008.

Review methods: A systematic review of quantitative studies that involved a comparison group and examined a clinical intervention for increasing the uptake and/or the success of vaginal birth after caesarean section was undertaken. An assessment of quality was made using the Critical Skills Appraisal Programme.

Results: Induction of labour using artificial rupture of membranes, prostaglandins, oxytocin infusion or a combination, was associated with lower vaginal birth rates. Cervical ripening agents such as prostaglandins and transcervical catheters may result in lower vaginal birth rates compared with spontaneous labour. The impact of epidural anaesthesia in labour on vaginal birth after caesarean success is inconclusive. X-ray pelvimetry is associated with reduced uptake of vaginal birth after caesarean and higher caesarean section rates. Scoring systems to predict likelihood of vaginal birth are largely unhelpful. There is insufficient data in relation to vaginal birth after caesarean section between different closure methods for the primary caesarean section.

Conclusion: Clinical factors can affect vaginal birth after caesarean uptake and success.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia, Epidural
  • Cesarean Section / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cesarean Section, Repeat / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Labor, Induced / methods
  • Labor, Induced / statistics & numerical data
  • Oxytocin / therapeutic use
  • Pelvimetry / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prostaglandins / therapeutic use
  • Suture Techniques
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trial of Labor
  • Uterine Rupture / epidemiology
  • Vaginal Birth after Cesarean / methods*
  • Vaginal Birth after Cesarean / statistics & numerical data


  • Prostaglandins
  • Oxytocin