According to recent statistics, over ¼ of infants are now delivered via cesarean section, and this number appears to be continuing to grow. The increase can’t be pinpointed to any one cause, however. In fact, there are a number of reasons an OB/GYN may perform a c-section.
If the infant is in breech position:
In standard births, the child exits the womb head first. In some cases, though, an infant can get turned in the womb. Although sometimes an OB/GYN will opt for vaginal birth in these cases – accomplished by manually repositioning the baby – if there is concern about the status of the umbilical cord or the infant is otherwise in distress, the doctor will recommend a c-section.
When the mother has health issues:
A number of health issues on the part of the mother can complicate vaginal birth. Genital herpes outbreaks, for example, can cause the virus to be passed on from mother to child during delivery. In these cases, a c-section is recommended for the safety of the infant.
A mother who is diabetic, either normally or as a result of gestational diabetes, may also experience complications during the birthing process. In many cases, the OB/GYN will opt to perform a c-section in these situations.
If there is a delivery complication:
Tearing in the uterus during delivery is a somewhat rare but dangerous complication that requires the OB/GYN to perform a c-section in order to avoid further damage. Some mothers also experience cord prolapse, in which the umbilical cord enters the vagina and becomes constricted. In cases of cord prolapse, blood flow to the baby can be restricted, and a c-section is usually indicated.
Other complications include anatomical issues such as the mother’s pelvis being small or the baby’s head being too large for a safe vaginal birth, or problems related to the way labor progresses, such as delays in cervical dilation.
When the baby has health issues:
If the fetus is found to be in any sort of distress, or in situations where there is a known birth defect, the OB/GYN will often recommend c-section in order to protect the already fragile health of the infant.
Is a c-section dangerous?
A cesarean is an invasive surgical procedure, so of course it carries with at all of the same inherent risks. However, it is also one of the oldest procedures on record. The first successful recorded c-section occurred in 1500 A.D.
If you are pregnant and have questions or concerns about the possibility of a cesarean birth, talk to your OB/GYN.