Reasons for a C-Section

Here are some of the reasons that you may be offered the option of a c-section.  Please note that not all of these will be known about until they happen so you could be in labour before they become apparant, and also this list does not contain all of the reasons – just the more common ones!

Foetal distress

This can sometimes happen when the baby is not coping with the stress of labour very well.  It can be spotted by a change in the baby’s heart beat which is detected with a foetal heart monitor and/or meconium (babys first poo) in the amniotic fluid.

Failure of the labour to progress

This means that the labour is progressing slowly and there is a risk to either the mother or the baby.  It can be caused by the cervix not dilating quickly or at a steady rate or that the baby is taking too long to be pushed out. 

Cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)

This means that your baby is too large to pass through your pelvis. This is a very common reason given to women as to why they should have a c-section.  Bear in mind this is rare occurring in 1 in 250 pregnancies.  Of those women diagnosed 65% have had subsequent successful vaginal deliveries.

Breech position

This is when your baby is laying buttocks or feet down.  It is possible to deliver vaginally but there may be concerns for the safety of the baby.

Complicated multiple births (twins or triplets)

Where one or more babies is lying in a breech position.

Vaginal bleeding

This could mean that there is a problem with the placenta.  Bleeding can happen when the placenta is below the baby; lies over part of the cervix (placenta previa); or if the placenta begins to separate from the wall of the uterus before birth.

Active herpes/Diabetes/Pregnancy induced hypertension/Eclampsia/HIV

Virus infections can be passed through the vagina so the baby can become infected as it passes through. Any of the other conditions mentioned can cause problems for the mother if the labour is not controlled.

Foetal malpresentation

If the baby is laying in a transverse or sideways position then a c-section will be necessary as vaginal birth will not be possible.

Cord prolapse

This is where the cord get caught between the baby and your pelvis.  If this happens then the baby could have diminished blood supply as each contraction will compress the cord.

Uterine malformation

It could be that you have an unusual shaped uterus which makes vaginal birth difficult. The difficulties can be that the entrance to the cervix is sealed so there is nowhere for the baby to come out or there is a division with the womb which makes it difficult for the baby to engage.

Helen – double uterus this is a blog post I wrote last year about a friend who was diagnosed with uterine didelphus.


Maternal obesity

As we get heavier than the rate of maternal obesity is rising.  A c-section may be indicated if the mother is overweight as there is a higher risk of complications happening whilst in labour.