A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus. If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical complications, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. However, sometimes your health care provider may suggest that you have a c-section for medical reasons. In these cases, a c-section can help to keep you and your baby safe.
You and your provider may schedule a c-section because of known pregnancy complications, such as:
- You’ve had a c-section in a previous pregnancy or other surgeries on your uterus.
- There are problems with the placenta. Placental problems can cause dangerous bleeding during vaginal birth.
- You have an infection, like HIV or genital herpes.
- You’re having multiples (twins, triplets or more).
- You have a chronic health condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, that requires treatment.
There are also situations that come up during labor and childbirth that may require you to have an unplanned (emergency) c-section. Here are some possible reasons you may need to have an unplanned c-section:
- Your baby is too big to pass safely through the vagina.
- Your baby is in a breech position (his bottom or feet are facing down) or a transverse position (his shoulder is facing down). The best position for your baby at birth is head down.
- Labor is too slow or stops.
- Your baby’s umbilical cord slips into the vagina where it could be squeezed or flattened during vaginal birth. This is called umbilical cord prolapse.
- Your baby has problems during labor, like a slow heart rate. This is also called fetal distress.
- Your baby has a certain type of birth defect.
Remember, if you’re scheduling your c-section for medical reasons,make sure to talk to your provider about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy, if possible. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before birth.
If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t have any medical reasons to have a c-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth. But for some women and their babies, a c-section is safer than a vaginal birth. If you have questions or concerns about whether a c-section may be right for you, talk to your health care provider.
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