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Pregnancy: Will you need a cesarean?

In some cases, a C-section is safer for both mom and baby.

Nothing compares to the excitement of a baby's entrance into the world.

Usually, this takes place after a baby travels through the birth canal. But some babies enter the world via cesarean section. During this operation, the baby is carefully removed directly from the mother's uterus.

You may need a C-section if:

Your labor stops. You may still be having contractions. But they may not open the cervix enough for the baby to be born. Sometimes medication can help speed up labor. But if that doesn't help, a C-section may be needed.

The baby is too large. In that case, the baby may not be able to safely pass through the vagina and pelvic bones.

You are carrying two or more babies. It is possible to have a vaginal birth with twins. But the risks increase with the number of babies, notes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The baby is in trouble during labor. The heartbeat might slow down or be irregular. Or the umbilical cord may be pinched or compressed. In that case, the baby might not get enough oxygen-rich blood.

There are problems with the placenta. The placenta might be below the baby. That means it may cover part or all of the cervix. And that blocks the baby's exit.

Or the placenta might separate before the baby is born. That cuts off the baby's supply of oxygen.

You have had a C-section before. It is possible to have a vaginal birth after a C-section. But there is a risk that the uterus will tear or rupture because the uterus is scarred where the initial incision was made.

It only happens less than 1% of the time. But some women and some doctors don't want to take that risk, says the Office on Women's Health.

You have certain medical conditions. Some problems could affect the safety of a vaginal birth, such as:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • An active genital herpes or HIV infection.

If you have more questions about C-sections, talk to your healthcare provider.

Reviewed 12/1/2022

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