Caesarean section

A Caesarean section is used to deliver the baby through an opening made surgically in the abdomen, rather than through the vagina

A Caesarean section can be planned in advance if there’s a medical reason for it (see below). Or sometimes it’s necessary to have an emergency Caesarean if problems develop

If you've already had a baby by Caesarean section and are now pregnant again, you may have some options for this pregnancy. See More information below

Reasons for having a Caesarean section*

A Caesarean section may be offered to you if

  • Your baby is positioned bottom first
  • The placenta is low (placenta praevia)
  • You are HIV positive, or have hepatitis or herpes
  • You are expecting twins
  • Your baby is small
  • Your baby is premature

You may need an unplanned Caesarean section if

  • There is concern about your health or your baby's health
  • Your labour is not moving along, or progressing, as expected
  • You have vaginal bleeding during pregnancy or labour
  • You go into labour before the date of your planned Caesarean section

*Taken from NICE guidance (see end)

If you are advised to have a Caesarean section, you might want to ask

  • Why it’s being recommended for you
  • What will happen
  • How long you will stay in hospital
  • What will happen after you leave hospital
  • How it may affect a future pregnancy
More information

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance on having a Caesarean section in the NHS

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has information on having a planned Caesarean section and the options for birth for women who have already had a Caesarean section