Cesareans: 10 Reasons Why You May Need a C-Section


One in three babies in the U.S. is born by a cesarean birth (or C-section). A C-section is the delivery of a baby through a surgical cut in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Why you may need a C-section
A C-section is usually done when a vaginal delivery is risky for you or your baby. In some instances, you may know early in your pregnancy that a C-section is likely. But most of the time, you will not know that a C-section may be safer and necessary until after labor has begun.

Reasons for a C-section may include:

1.Pregnant with multiples. It’s often safer for twins, triplets, or higher-order multiples to be delivered by C-section.
2.Birth defects. Babies with certain birth defects have better outcomes when delivered by C-section.
3.Previous C-section. Though many women are able to have a vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC), some should not. Talk to your doctor to see if VBAC is right for you.
4.Labor doesn’t progress as it should.
5.Fetal distress. If the baby isn’t getting enough oxygen or has an abnormal heartbeat, doctors often suggest a C-section so the baby can be born right away.
6.Placenta problems. The placenta can block the baby’s way or could rupture (placenta previa). Or the placenta can separate from the uterine wall (placenta abruption). These conditions can cause heavy vaginal bleeding and can be fatal for you and your baby.
7.Breech presentation. This happens when the baby is not in head-first position, making a vaginal delivery difficult.
8.Prolapsed umbilical cord. A prolapsed cord drops through the vagina before the baby is born, cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby.
9.Medical problems with the mother. It’s sometimes safer for moms who have diabetes, preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), or other health issues to give birth by C-section. For mothers who have an infection, such as HIV or active genital herpes, having a C-section may reduce the chance of passing the illness to the baby.
10.Baby too large for birth canal. Sometimes the birth canal is too narrow or the baby’s head is too large for a vaginal delivery. It may also be safer for a very large baby to be delivered by C-section.
There are other medical reasons for why a C-section may be needed. Talk to your doctor before labor starts and discuss in what other cases you might need to have a C-section.

Elective C-section
An elective C-section is one that is planned ahead of time, well before labor begins, and is scheduled for a time when the baby has grown enough to survive outside the womb. If you’re pregnant with one baby and have no urgent complications, the C-section should be scheduled for a time when the unborn baby is 39 weeks or older. But sometimes a baby’s gestational age can be hard to pinpoint. There’s a chance the baby can be delivered too early and have problems breathing, feeding, or keeping a safe temperature.

A C-section is major abdominal surgery, and like any surgery, it comes with risks to both the mother and baby. It generally takes longer to heal from a C-section than it does from a vaginal birth.

If you’re considering an elective C-section, discuss the risks with your doctor.

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