Our goal in every pregnancy is to provide a safe passage for your baby to come into this world. In most cases this can be done via a vaginal delivery. However, there are some cases where a C-section is necessary to safely deliver your baby. The idea of having a C-section can sometimes be intimidating and scary, but, when needed, a C-section can be a very safe and effective way for your baby to enter the world. Let’s discuss a few reasons why C-sections may be recommended or chosen.

A scheduled C-section is a planned method of delivery that is done for a number of reasons. C-sections may be considered if:

  • The baby is expected to be large in size.
  • You’re carrying multiples (e.g. twins or triplets).
  • You have a health concern (e.g. uncontrolled diabetes or a heart condition) – certain medical conditions can increase the risk of complications during labor. Doctors may recommend that some women consider undergoing an elective C-section.
  • You have an active genital herpes infection.
  • Fibroids – you might need a C-section if you have a large fibroid obstructing the birth canal.
  • Your baby is in the breech or transverse position making it more dangerous for the baby to deliver vaginally.
  • You have a history of a previous C-sections.
  • You have a placental issue such as placenta previa.

In some cases, the need for a C-section does not become obvious until labor is underway. In these fast-moving situations your doctor might recommend a C-section if:

  • Your labor is not progressing.
  • The baby is found to be in distress or in an abnormal position.
  • You develop an infection in labor.

Most women are able to give birth vaginally. This is the most common method of delivery and we always support and encourage a trial of labor. But there is no reason a C-section, if it becomes necessary, cannot be just as joyful of an experience for mom, dad and baby. Fathers can often hold the baby right after delivery and mom is usually able to hold her baby and breastfeed immediately after the procedure is complete.

What are the risks of having a C-section?

For women who are going to have a C-section (when it has been recommended), it is important to know the full risks of the procedure. Having a discussion with your doctor about your own particular risks and benefits is an important part of the process.

The general risks of C-sections include:

  • Increased bleeding. You are likely to lose more blood with a C-section than with a vaginal birth. You will be typed and screened for blood in the event you lose enough blood to warrant a transfusion; however, this is very rare.
  • Reactions to anesthesia. Adverse reactions to any type of anesthesia are possible.
  • Development of blood clots.
  • After a C-section, you might be at risk of developing an infection of the lining of the uterus (endometritis) or at the site of the incision.
  • Increased risks during future pregnancies for placental disorder called placenta previa or accreta.

If I have a C-section do all my future pregnancies have to be C-sections, too?

The answer is not necessarily. Most non-emergent C-sections make an incision in your uterus that allows you to try for a vaginal birth in your next pregnancy. This type of birth is known as a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Whether your future pregnancy will need to be a C-section or not will depend on

  • The cause of your previous cesarean (i.e. a one-time emergency versus a chronic medical problem).
  • The type of uterine incision that the surgeon used.
  • How your future pregnancies progress.

The decision to have a C-section should always be made in consultation with your doctor. It involves many different factors such as your medical background, pregnancy history and of course your doctor’s advice. Be sure to speak to your own doctor about any questions, concerns or issues around having a C-section. But understand that C-sections can be a safe and beautiful way for your baby to enter the world!