Vaginal birth after one previous caesarean section in a tertiary institution in Nigeria

A O Aisien, A U Oronsaye
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: the Journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2004, 24 (8): 886-90
Vaginal birth after one previous lower segment caesarean section represents one of the most significant and challenging issues in obstetric practice. A 5-year retrospective study was carried out at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital between January 1999 and December 2003, to determine the incidence, the maternal and fetal outcome following vaginal delivery after one previous caesarean section with a view to evaluating its safety and efficacy. There were 5234 deliveries, with 395 cases of one previous caesarean section, giving an incidence of 7.5%. The incidences of emergency caesarean section, elective caesarean section and spontaneous vaginal delivery following trial of vaginal delivery were 34.7%, 9.4% and 48.1%, respectively. During the study period there were 1317 cases of caesarean section, giving an incidence of 25.2% caesarean section rate. The incidence of one previous section among all caesarean section births was 30%. The major morbidity following vaginal delivery was uterine rupture with an incidence of 1.5% and hysterectomy of 0.8%. Three of the uterine ruptures occurred before admission because the patients laboured at home. One maternal death occurred as a result of uterine rupture and postpartum haemorrhage, giving a maternal mortality ratio of 19/100,000 and a case fatality rate of 0.3%. The corrected perinatal mortality rate was 15.2/1000, mainly from obstructed labour, abruptio placenta and fetal distress. Both maternal and fetal mortalities from vaginal birth after one previous section were significantly less than the respective overall maternal and fetal mortality from the institution. The 1-minute apgar score of babies delivered by elective section was significantly (P < 0.001) higher than the apgar score of babies delivered by emergency section and vaginally. There was only one patient with wound dehiscence at elective section without associated perinatal death. Vaginal delivery following caesarean section is relatively safe. However, women in developing countries will continue to require counselling to counter the myths of aversion to operative delivery even at the expense of losing their lives. Our hospitals should have adequate monitoring equipment for high-risk pregnancies so that patients and their babies can be assured of survival.

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