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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

‘Groping through the fog’: a metasynthesis of women's experiences on VBAC (Vaginal birth after Caesarean section)

Ingela Lundgren1*, Cecily Begley2, Mechthild M Gross3 and Terese Bondas4

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Health and Care Sciences at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 457, S-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden

2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland

3 Midwifery Research and Education Unit, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

4 Faculty of Professional Studies, University of Nordland, Bodo, Norway

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Citation and License

BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012, 12:85  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-85

Published: 21 August 2012



Vaginal birth after Caesarean section (VBAC) is a relevant question for a large number of women due to the internationally rising Caesarean section (CS) rate. There is a great deal of research based on quantitative studies but few qualitative studies about women's experiences.


A metasynthesis based on the interpretative meta ethnography method was conducted. The inclusion criterion was peer-review qualitative articles from different disciplines about women's experiences of VBAC. Eleven articles were checked for quality, and eight articles were included in the synthesis.


The included studies were from Australia (four), UK (three), and US (one), and studied women's experience in relation to different aspects of VBAC; decision-making whether to give birth vaginally, the influence of health professionals on decision-making, reason for trying a vaginal birth, experiences when choosing VBAC, experiences of giving birth vaginally, and giving birth with CS when preferring VBAC. The main results are presented with the metaphor groping through the fog; for the women the issue of VBAC is like being in a fog, where decision-making and information from the health care system and professionals, both during pregnancy and the birth, is unclear and contrasting. The results are further presented with four themes: ‘to be involved in decision about mode of delivery is difficult but important,’ ‘vaginal birth has several positive aspects mainly described by women,’ ‘vaginal birth after CS is a risky project,’ and ‘own strong responsibility for giving birth vaginally'.


In order to promote VBAC, more studies are needed from different maternity settings and countries about women's experiences. Women need evidence-based information not only about the risks involved but also positive aspects of VBAC.

Metasynthesis; Qualitative studies; VBAC; Women's experiences