When a C-Section is Necessary

In the United States, about 30 percent of all babies are delivered by cesarean. For a while during the late 1990s and early 2000s, cesarean births were on the rise – thanks in part to Hollywood’s endorsement of “tummy tucks” with a C-section. But today, cesarean births are performed out of necessity instead of preference.

A cesarean delivery is a major surgical procedure in which incisions are made through a mother’s abdomen and uterus to deliver one or more babies. A C-section may be planned ahead of time if the mother or baby develops complications that would put the health of one or both in jeopardy.

There are common reasons mothers know beforehand that they will deliver via cesarean. Babies who are in the breech or transverse position can be severely injured during a vaginal delivery; therefore babies in an abnormal position are typically delivered by C-section. Mothers who are carrying multiples are commonly delivered via C-section due to the babies who are still in the uterus changing positions as siblings are delivered before them. A problem with the umbilical cord is also a common predetermining factor for cesarean birth.

However, many times women do not go into labor expecting to deliver via cesarean. If a woman’s labor is not progressing after 24 hours of labor, she may be taken in for a C-section. Two common factors for unprogressive labor are that the cervix doesn’t open enough with contractions or the baby’s head is too large for the birth canal. A baby’s heartbeat is monitored throughout labor, and if the baby becomes distressed in any way an emergency C-section will typically be performed to ensure a safe delivery.

While some C-sections are requested by mothers for convenience or to avoid possible complications of a vaginal birth – regulations have been set to discourage unnecessary cesarean births. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best decision for you and your baby.

Posted on behalf of Sean Lambert M.D., North Pointe OB/GYN Associates

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