Trial of labor after cesarean delivery (TOLAC) refers to a planned attempt to deliver a baby vaginally by a woman who has previously undergone a cesarean delivery. It’s a procedure carefully considered by clinicians to determine if it’s a suitable option for the mother and baby. If successful, the process is called a vaginal birth after cesarean delivery (VBAC).

Key Takeaways

  1. Trial of Labor After Cesarean (TOLAC) is a process wherein a woman, who has had a previous cesarean delivery, chooses to attempt a vaginal birth in a subsequent pregnancy. It offers a chance for a woman to give birth vaginally after having one or more cesarean sections.
  2. TOLAC is not suitable for every woman as it carries its own risks and benefits. Some risks include uterine rupture, maternal morbidity, and neonatal morbidity. The likelihood of a successful vaginal delivery through TOLAC largely depends on the reasons for the previous cesarean section, the woman’s overall health, and her obstetric history.
  3. It’s important to have a supportive healthcare team while attempting TOLAC, as close monitoring is necessary to ensure the health and safety of both mother and baby. The decision to attempt TOLAC should be an informed and shared decision between the woman and her healthcare provider.


The term “Trial of Labor After Cesarean Delivery” (TOLAC) is significant in the context of motherhood because it refers to a planned attempt to deliver vaginally by a woman who has previously had a cesarean delivery. This process is vital because it provides eligible women a chance to experience natural childbirth even after a cesarean section.

It reduces the potential risks associated with repeat cesarean deliveries, including hemorrhage, infection, and complications from anesthesia. However, TOLAC is not without risks and may not be suitable for everyone.

Therefore, careful evaluation and consideration of the mother’s health and birth history are necessary. Overall, TOLAC represents an important aspect of patient-centered obstetric care.


The purpose of Trial of Labor After Cesarean delivery (TOLAC) centers around providing women who have had a previous cesarean delivery an opportunity to achieve a vaginal birth in subsequent pregnancies. This approach is typically offered as an alternative to a repeat cesarean delivery, which might be warranted in certain cases depending on various factors like the type of prior surgical incision.

Though many women can successfully attain a vaginal birth following a cesarean delivery (VBAC), it is important to weigh the benefits and risks associated with TOLAC in order to ensure the safety and health of both the mother and the newborn. TOLAC is primarily used to potentially decrease the complications that can arise from multiple cesarean deliveries, such as infections, blood loss, or injury to other organs.

Furthermore, some women may prioritize a vaginal birth for personal or cultural reasons, or to avoid surgical recovery. Depending on medical and obstetric history, women with a prior cesarean delivery often can try labor with close monitoring for possible complications.

If the trial of labor is successful, women may experience fewer complications and a shorter recovery period compared to a repeat cesarean delivery. It’s important, though, that this trial of labor take place in a healthcare facility equipped to perform an emergency cesarean, if need be.

Examples of Trial of labor after cesarean delivery (TOLAC)

Mary’s First Experience: Mary had delivered her first child through a cesarean section due to complications in her pregnancy. However, when she was pregnant with her second child, her doctor suggested that she could try for a vaginal delivery, a process referred to as Trial of Labor after Cesarean delivery (TOLAC). Mary decided to take this route and with proper medical supervision and preparation, she was able to deliver her second child vaginally without any complications.

Sarah’s Labor Journey: Sarah had a cesarean delivery with her first child due to her baby being in breech position. When she was expecting her second child, her doctor gave her the option to attempt a TOLAC. Sarah carefully evaluated her options, considering factors like her health, the size and position of the baby, and her previous delivery history. Ultimately, she decided to proceed with the TOLAC under close medical supervision and was successful in delivering her second child vaginally.

Emma’s Decision: Emma had her first daughter via an emergency cesarean section due to fetal distress during labor. When she became pregnant with her second child, she was initially apprehensive about going through labor again. Nevertheless, her obstetrician assured her that she was a suitable candidate for a TOLAC, explaining the risks and benefits involved. Emma decided to give it a try and after a closely monitored labor, she was able to deliver her second daughter without the need for another cesarean section.

FAQs about Trial of Labor after Cesarean Delivery (TOLAC)

What is a Trial of Labor after Cesarean Delivery (TOLAC)?

A Trial of Labor after Cesarean Delivery (TOLAC) is the process of attempting a vaginal birth after one or more cesarean deliveries. This is done to avoid the risks associated with repeated cesarean sections.

Who is eligible for a TOLAC?

The eligibility for a TOLAC depends on several factors including the type of uterine incision and the number of prior cesarean deliveries. It’s best to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if TOLAC is appropriate for you.

What are the success rates of TOLAC?

The success rate of TOLAC can range from 60-80%. Factors that can influence this include the reason for previous C-section(s), the mother’s age, and if the mother has had a prior vaginal birth.

What are the risks associated with TOLAC?

While TOLAC can have numerous benefits, there are also risks involved such as uterine rupture, infection, and potential need for an emergency C-section.

Can you have a TOLAC in a hospital setting?

Yes, TOLAC is typically performed in a hospital setting where emergency C-sections can be quickly carried out if needed.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
  • Cesarean Section (C-Section)
  • Uterine Rupture
  • Maternal Morbidity
  • Birth Plan

Sources for More Information

  • The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG): This is a professional association of physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology in the United States. TOLAC is a subject on which they provide in-depth resources.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): This is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. They provide a variety of resources and recommendations regarding TOLAC.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC is a national public health agency in the United States. They collect a great deal of data related to childbirth, including statistics about TOLAC.
  • Mayo Clinic: This is a nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research. They offer patient education materials on a wide range of topics, including TOLAC.