Women's experiences of planning a vaginal birth after caesarean in different models of maternity care in Australia

Hazel Keedle, Lilian Peters, Virginia Schmied, Elaine Burns, Warren Keedle, Hannah Grace Dahlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) is a safe mode of birth for most women but internationally VBAC rates remain low. In Australia women planning a VBAC may experience different models of care including continuity of care (CoC). There are a limited number of studies exploring the impact and influence of CoC on women's experiences of planning a VBAC. Continuity of care (CoC) with a midwife has been found to increase spontaneous vaginal birth and decrease some interventions. Women planning a VBAC prefer and benefit from CoC with a known care provider. This study aimed to explore the influence, and impact, of continuity of care on women's experiences when planning a VBAC in Australia. Methods: The Australian VBAC survey was designed and distributed via social media. Outcomes and experiences of women who had planned a VBAC in the past 5 years were compared by model of care. Standard fragmented maternity care was compared to continuity of care with a midwife or doctor. Results: In total, 490 women completed the survey and respondents came from every State and Territory in Australia. Women who had CoC with a midwife were more likely to feel in control of their decision making and feel their health care provider positively supported their decision to have a VBAC. Women who had CoC with a midwife were more likely to have been active in labour, experience water immersion and have an upright birthing position. Women who received fragmented care experienced lower autonomy and lower respect compared to CoC. Conclusion: This study recruited a non-probability based, self-selected, sample of women using social media. Women found having a VBAC less traumatic than their previous caesarean and women planning a VBAC benefited from CoC models, particularly midwifery continuity of care. Women seeking VBAC are often excluded from these models as they are considered to have risk factors. There needs to be a focus on increasing shared belief and confidence in VBAC across professions and an expansion of midwifery led continuity of care models for women seeking a VBAC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number381
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • Active birth
  • Continuity of care
  • Midwifery
  • Vaginal birth after caesarean
  • VBAC
  • Waterbirth

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