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In the past 40 years, the rate of cesarean (C-section) deliveries has jumped from about 1 out of 20 births to about 1 out of 3 births.footnote 1 This trend has caused experts to worry that C-sections are being done more often than needed.
Because of the risks of C-section, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that planned C-sections generally be done only for medical reasons.
But some women and their partners have personal reasons for wanting to avoid labor and a vaginal birth. When a woman requests to have a C-section even though she has never had one before and there is no medical need for it, this is called an elective primary C-section.
If you're thinking of having an elective primary C-section, it's important to weigh what you want against the risks. You may want to talk to your doctor about reasons for and against a planned C-section.
A C-section is the delivery of a baby through a cut (incision) in the mother's belly and uterus.
Many C-sections are unplanned. They are done because of problems that occur before or during labor. These problems might include:
Some women have personal reasons for wanting a C-section.
It's important to talk openly and honestly with your doctor about your wishes and concerns.
In some cases, your doctor may be able to help you feel more confident about vaginal birth. For example, your doctor could discuss the many ways to control pain during labor. Or he or she may explain how often pelvic floor problems happen and what can be done to prevent them. These discussions may change your mind about planning a C-section.
If a C-section is planned for personal reasons, experts recommend that it should be done at 39 weeks or later in the pregnancy.
Although most mothers and babies do well after C-section, it is major surgery. It has more risks than a vaginal delivery. The risks of C-section include:
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Cesarean delivery and peripartum hysterectomy. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 544–564. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Current as of: May 29, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of: May 29, 2019
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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