Cesarean sections are major operations, and although there is a culture today of people believing the hype of “too posh to push” in reality, women will generally only have a c-section if it is medically necessary.
There can be various reasons for a medically required c-section and this article will look briefly into some of the conditions that will usually result in a woman undergoing this operation.
The BBC reported in 2009 that 15% of all births are emergency cesarean operations. This is compared to 10% being elective cesareans. Clearly therefore emergency cesareans dominate over elective ones. Unfortunately for some women labour does not go as well as can be and complications occur, varying from failure to progress and problems with the baby getting into distress. In these situations it is the safest option for baby and for the mother to proceed with a c-section.
Placenta Previa is a condition where the location of the placenta is over or partially over the cervix. Clearly, with something blocking the birth canal, natural childbirth is impossible, and indeed, to labour naturally with this condition is very dangerous as it can result in a significant amount of blood loss. Women presenting with placenta previa will be routinely offered an elective c-section.
Frequently babies will present in what is known as an ‘abnormal lie’. This can be in a posterior position (back to back), transverse, oblique or breach. Some positions such as oblique or posterior will make a labour more difficult and painful, but natural childbirth can still be achieved if desired. However, for positions such as a transverse lie or breach presentations, natural labour is very difficult and often dangerous and in these situations a c-section will usually be recommended.
it used to be the case that once a woman had a cesarean, all future births had to be elective cesareans. This is actually outdated, and many women successfully go on to give birth naturally following a cesarean section. However, a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) does pose more risks than your average natural labour and it is for this reason that many mothers who have previously had c-sections choose to have further births by the same method.
The National Institute for Health and Clinic Excellence has recommended that a caesarean should be available to every woman by choice, although they should receive counseling advising them of the risks of such an invasive procedure.