Cesarean Section - Why It Is Done
cesarean deliveries are planned ahead of time. Others
are done when a quick delivery is needed to ensure the mother's and infant's
Some cesarean sections are
planned when a known medical problem would make labor dangerous for the mother
or baby. Medical reasons for a planned cesarean may include:
- A fetus in any position that is not head-down
breech position). For more information, see the topic
Breech Position and Breech Birth.
- Decreased blood supply to the
placenta before birth, which may lead to a small
- Estimated fetal size of over
9 lb (4.1 kg) to
10 lb (4.5 kg) or more.
- A maternal disease or condition that may be made worse by the stress
of labor. One example is heart disease.
- A known health problem with the baby, such as spina bifida.
- A placenta that is blocking the
cervix (placenta previa). For more information,
see the topic
- Open sores from active
genital herpes near the due date, which can be passed
to the fetus during vaginal delivery.
- Infection with
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which can be
passed to the fetus during vaginal delivery.2
- Multiple pregnancy. The direction and size of the incision
depends on the position of the fetuses. In particular, cesarean delivery may be
needed for multiple births involving:
- Twins that share one amniotic sac
(monoamniotic twins), because of the risk that the cords will get
- Three fetuses or more.
- Twins that are joined by any part of the body (conjoined).
- An overstretched uterus that cannot contract adequately
during labor (uterine inertia), making labor prolonged and
- Poorly positioned or large fetuses.
Many cesarean deliveries are planned ahead of time for
women who have had a cesarean in the past. Medical reasons for a planned repeat
cesarean may include:
- A current problem that has led to difficult
labor and cesarean before, such as a narrow pelvis and a large fetus
- Factors that increase the
risk of uterine rupture during labor, such as having a vertical scar, triplets or more, or a very large fetus thought to
weigh 9 lb (4.1 kg) to
10 lb (4.5 kg) or more. For
more information, see the topic
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
access to constant medical supervision by a cesarean-trained doctor during
active labor, or no available facilities for an emergency cesarean.
- Pregnancy: Should I Try Vaginal Birth After a Past C-Section (VBAC)?
Some women request to have a C-section even though there is no medical need for it. Experts don't agree on whether C-sections should be done when there is no medical reason. Most mothers and babies do well after C-section. But it's major surgery, and major surgery has some risks.