For many couples, cesarean section is the greatest birth fear. With the c-section rate hovering around 30% in most US hospitals, this fear is well founded. When a cesarean is necessary, it can be a lifesaving procedure for both mother and baby. We are fortunate to have this resource available to us. However, experts theorize that the rate of Cesarean section should be one-third of what it is now, roughly 10%. CIMS recommends a rate of no more than 15%. Psychological outcomes such as negative feelings, fear, guilt, feelings of failure, anger and postpartum depression are common consequences of both emergent and elective cesarean sections. Bonding with the baby is more difficult and recovery from birth is complicated. An elective cesarean is rarely medically necessary. Some situations really do require a cesarean section. These include the following:
  • Complete placenta previa at term
  • Placental abruption
  • Transverse lie at complete dilation
  • Prolapsed cord
  • Eclampsia or HELLP syndrome after a failed induction
  • Uterine fibroid which blocks the cervix at complete dilation
  • True fetal distress confirmed by fetal scalp blood sampling
  • True cephalopelvic disproportion-- this is very rare and usually due to a broken pelvis
  • Active herpes outbreak or HIV with a high viral load at time of delivery
  • Uterine rupture
Please read the CIMS fact sheet The Risks of Cesarean Delivery to Mother and Baby for more information.   For a step by step representation of cesarean section birth, click here.  These are actual photos of the  surgical procedure.