As your pregnancy nears your due date, you’ll likely have a conversation with your doctor about your birth plan and discuss how the delivery is likely to happen. Some pregnant women or their babies have risk factors that may necessitate a cesarean section delivery, commonly known as a C-section.
A C-section is a surgical procedure that is used to deliver a baby when there is a high risk of complications from a vaginal delivery. The CDC reports that nearly one-third of babies born in the U.S. in 2020 were delivered by C-section.
While elective C-sections have become more prevalent in recent years, most C-sections occur either because labor fails to progress or because medical issues with the mother or baby put them at an increased risk with a vaginal birth.
Many times your doctor is aware of these risk factors in advance of your delivery date, so they can discuss and schedule the procedure with you well before you go into labor.
Depending on the situation, some women with certain risk factors may opt to attempt a vaginal delivery with the knowledge that a C-section may be required if their baby experiences distress during delivery or their labor stalls.
While many factors can necessitate a C-section delivery, pregnant women are more likely to undergo a C-section if they:
While we hear about potential risks associated with C-sections, they may be necessary under certain circumstances in order to save the life of the mother, baby or both. Depending on your situation, a C-section delivery may be a safer option for you and your baby than a vaginal birth.
Some of the most common reasons your doctor may need to perform a C-section include:
A C-section, like any surgical procedure, comes with potential risks and a longer recovery period than a vaginal birth.
Some risks associated with C-sections deliveries include:
Babies born by C-section are at a greater risk of developing breathing issues immediately after birth. Although rare, they’re also at risk of an accidental surgical injury, such as a nick to their skin.
While many women have multiple C-sections throughout their lives that allow them to safely deliver healthy babies, there are potential risks associated with repeat C-sections. Your doctor can discuss these risks and help determine if a repeat C-section or a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is right for you and your baby.
Some of the complications that could arise from repeat C-sections include:
If you have any concerns about a potential repeat C-section, make sure you talk to your doctor. They will explain the procedure and discuss any potential complications and risks to you and your baby associated with a repeat C-section.
Additionally, it’s important to understand that just because you’ve had a previous C-section, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a vaginal birth in subsequent pregnancies. In fact, many women go on to successfully have a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), so talk to your doctor if you want to find out if this is an option for you.