When is Cesarean Delivery Necessary?

happy pregnant woman

Cesarean delivery, commonly known as a C-section, is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through an incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. While vaginal birth is the preferred method in most cases, certain situations may necessitate a C-section for the health and well-being of the mother, baby or both. Here are some circumstances in which a Cesarean delivery may be necessary and recommended by an obstetrician.

Fetal Distress

When signs indicate that the baby is not tolerating labor well, such as abnormal heart rate patterns (fetal distress), a C-section may be performed to expedite delivery and prevent potential complications related to inadequate oxygen supply or other issues affecting the baby’s health.

Failure to Progress in Labor

Prolonged or stalled labor, where the cervix fails to dilate or the baby doesn’t descend through the birth canal despite a reasonable amount of time, might necessitate a C-section. This could occur due to various factors, such as an unfavorable fetal position, maternal pelvic structure or inefficient uterine contractions.

Breech Presentation or Abnormal Positioning

When the baby is not positioned head-down (breech) or in a position suitable for a safe vaginal delivery (such as transverse or oblique lie), a C-section might be recommended to reduce risks associated with potential complications during birth.

Placenta Previa or Placental Issues

Placenta previa, where the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix, or placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the uterine wall prematurely, can lead to significant bleeding and pose risks during vaginal delivery, necessitating a C-section.

Multiple Gestation (Twins or More)

In pregnancies with multiple babies, the position of the babies or other complications may increase the likelihood of a C-section for a safe delivery.

Maternal Health Conditions

Certain maternal health conditions, such as active genital herpes, severe heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure or infections like HIV, might pose risks during vaginal delivery, making a C-section a safer option.

Previous Cesarean Delivery

Women who have had a previous C-section might opt for a repeat Cesarean delivery for subsequent pregnancies due to concerns over uterine rupture during a trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) or vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).

Emergency Situations

Unforeseen emergencies during labor, such as umbilical cord prolapse, uterine rupture or sudden maternal complications like seizures (eclampsia), might necessitate an immediate C-section to ensure the safety of the mother and baby.

The decision to perform a C-section is typically made by obstetricians after careful evaluation of various factors, considering both the maternal and fetal conditions. While a Cesarean delivery is a common and safe procedure, it is still a major surgery and involves certain risks, including infection, bleeding and longer recovery times compared to vaginal birth.

It is essential for expectant mothers to discuss their birth preferences and concerns with their obstetrician early in pregnancy, allowing for informed decision-making and appropriate planning for labor and delivery. Understanding the circumstances that may lead to a C-section helps expecting parents prepare for various possible outcomes, ensuring the best possible care for both mother and baby. At Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A., we have highly qualified obstetricians who are experienced in performing safe C-sections at our state-of-the-art birthing center. Call our clinic in East Cobb or Marietta, GA, to schedule an appointment to discuss your birthing plan and determine if a Cesarean delivery may be best for your situation.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Carlos Alarcon, Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.