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 (sometimes called a c-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. 

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

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 NHS has produced clear, easy to understand information about Cesarian sections, when they might be necessary, and what will happen if you need to have one. Information on c-sections can be found here

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