Objective To determine the outcome of subsequent labour in primiparous women after a caesarean section for delay in descent in the second stage of labour in cephalic presentations with or without trial of instrumental vaginal delivery.
Design Retrospective follow up study.
Setting Medical Centre Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
Participants All primiparous parturients who delivered after prior caesarean section during the second stage of labour in the period 1986–1998.
Methods Data concerning the outcome of the first subsequent delivery were gathered from delivery notes and patients charts. The group of women was subdivided into those with or without trial of instrumental vaginal delivery during the previous labour.
Results Of 132 women, 29 (22%) underwent a planned repeat caesarean section. Of the 103 women who were allowed a trial of labour, 82 (80%) were successful in having a vaginal delivery, and 21 (20%) had a second caesarean section. Of the 74 women with a failed trial of instrumental delivery during the previous labour, 19 had a planned repeat caesarean section and 41 of the remaining 55 (75%) had a successful trial of labour.
Conclusions In women with a cephalic presentation who had an arrest of descent in the second stage of labour during their first delivery, the chances of vaginal delivery in their next pregnancy are high, even after a failed instrumented vaginal delivery, and a trial of labour can usually be pursued.