A woman holds her infant in her arms.

3 Reasons Women in Labor May Need a C-Section

Many expectant mothers create a birth plan, which details things such as the items of clothing you’ll wear during labor, how you will manage pain, and how you would like to deliver. However, birth can be unpredictable, and a medically necessary cesarean section can alter your plans. Here are some of the possible situations that may call for a C-section.  

1. Complications With the Mother’s Health

Some circumstances can make a vaginal delivery dangerous to your health. Your doctor may suggest scheduling a C-section if you experience any of the following: 

  • Pre-Existing Conditions. Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, HIV, and genital herpes, can make vaginal labor dangerous for you and your baby. 
  • Cephalopelvic Disproportion (CPD). If you have a small pelvis or your baby has a large head, your child might not be able to fit into or move through the birth canal. 
  • Previous C-Section. If you delivered a baby by C-section before, your scar from the procedure might make a vaginal birth dangerous. Vertical or T-shaped scars have the potential to lead to a uterine rupture or perineal tear. Speak with your doctor about whether vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is a safe option for you. 

2. Complications With the Child’s Health

A child may have a condition that makes a vaginal delivery risky. Your doctor may recommend scheduling a C-section to improve potential outcomes if your child experiences any of the following:

  • Birth Defects. Disorders present at birth, such as fluid in the brain or congenital heart diseases, can make labor dangerous for your child. A C-section might be a safer option. 
  • Improper Positioning. When delivering a baby, the safest way is for the child to come out headfirst. However, as your due date approaches, your child might be breech (feetfirst) or transverse (side first), which can increase the risk of complications. If you’re carrying multiples, the chance of at least one child being in the wrong position increases. 

3. Labor Complications 

Some issues that arise during labor and delivery can put you or your baby’s safety at risk. Your doctor may recommend a C-section if you experience any of the following:

  • Cord Prolapse. While rare, the umbilical cord can exit the birth canal before the baby, which can stop the flow of oxygen to your child. 
  • Extended Labor. A long period of labor, about 20 hours for a first-time mother or 14 hours for a mother who has given birth previously, can be exhausting and cause health problems. A C-section may be necessary after this point. 

Do you have a little one on the way? Schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group OB/GYN to get a better understanding of both your and your baby’s health. You can also schedule a tour at one of the CHI St. Luke’s Health Family Birthing Centers to see how you can have a VIP—Very Important Pregnancy—experience. 

Sources: 
Healthline | Reasons for a C-Section: Medical, Personal, or Other
What to Expect | Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)