How Do Mothers Make Choices About VBAC or Repeat Cesarean?

7 Jun

Yasmine L. Konheim-Kalkstein, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Mount Saint Mary College, in Newburgh, New York. As a mother who had a prior cesarean, she is one of the very few women in the United States who are given a choice to plan a VBAC or schedule a routine repeat cesarean. Less than 10 percent of U.S. women with a prior cesarean have a VBAC.

Dr. Konheim-Kalkstein is conducting a research study to better understand how women in the U.S. make a decision about planning a VBAC or having a repeat cesarean.

She writes:

I am, probably as a result of my own experience, conducting research on psychological factors that influence women’s decisions to try for a VBAC or choose a repeat c-section.

I have researched decision-making in the past, but it was during my second pregnancy, while being faced with the decision to plan a VBAC or choose a repeat operation, and hearing other women’s choices (often very different) that I became interested in the question of what influences women’s decision-making in childbirth. 

As a pilot study, I’m gathering data from women who had to make this decision. It’s an online anonymous survey that takes less than 10 minutes. I hope this study will help maternity care professionals learn how best to support women in their decisions. Women who take the survey have the opportunity to be drawn to win a $25. gift card.

Specifically, our project examines the psychological influences that lead women to plan a VBAC or schedule a repeat cesarean section. When we make any decision, we are often influenced by the knowledge available to us, the way risks are presented to us, our prior experiences, stories we may have heard, and of course, our own personality. This project broadly explores these influences, in order to better understand the components that influence the decision-making. 

Of course, there is no right or wrong choice in the case of a VBAC vs. a scheduled c-section. Our survey seeks only to collect data, not to influence decisions. We are not medically trained; we are interested in the psychology of decision-making. We hope our study will contribute to research that will ultimately benefit women, as well as those involved in supporting women in their healthcare decisions.

I am happy to share my own personal story, but only after women take the survey as I don’t want to bias them one way or another. 

To take the survey, go to .

For additional information about this project, you can contact Dr. Konheim-Kalkstein


Childbirth Connection, VBAC or Repeat Cesarean

American College of Nurse-Midwives, What You Need to Know About VBAC and Repeat Cesarean

Northern New England Perinatal Quality Improvement Network, Birth Choices After Cesarean (Patient Education)

American Academy of Family Physicians: Trial of Labor After Cesarean, Shared Patient-Physician Decision-Making Tool

Power To Push Campaign, British Columbia, Vaginal Birth After Cesarean

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