Cesarean delivery, also called c-section, is surgery to deliver a baby. The baby is taken out through the mother’s abdomen. Most cesarean births result in healthy babies and mothers. But c-section is major surgery and carries risks. Healing also takes longer than with vaginal birth.
Most healthy pregnant women with no risk factors for problems during labor or delivery have their babies vaginally. Still, the cesarean birth rate in the United States has risen greatly in recent decades. Today, nearly 1 in 3 women have babies by c-section in this country. The rate was 1 in 5 in 1995.
Public heath experts think that many c-sections are unnecessary. So it is important for pregnant women to get the facts about c-sections before they deliver. Women should find out what c-sections are, why they are performed, and the pros and cons of this surgery.
Your doctor might recommend a c-section if it’s deemed safer for you or your baby than vaginal birth. Some c-sections are planned. But most c-sections are done when unexpected problems happen during delivery. Even so, there are risks of delivering by c-section. Limited studies show that the benefits of having a c-section may outweigh the risks when:
- The mother is carrying more than one baby
- The mother has health problems including HIV infection, herpes infection, and heart disease
- The mother has dangerously high blood pressure
- The mother has problems with the shape of her pelvis
- There are problems with the placenta
- There are problems with the umbilical cord
- There are problems with the position of the baby, such as breech
- The baby shows signs of distress, such as a slowed heart rate
- The mother has had a previous c-section
To learn more, visit the Family Health Manager, and always raise questions and concerns with your FirstLight provider.