Cesarean Delivery - Risks & Advantages


Getting a C-section is inevitable when there are certain factors that hinder a normal vaginal delivery, but a C-section is not always chosen due to medical necessity; you can have an elective Cesarean if you prefer. 

Many women these days are opting for elective Cesareans due to various reasons discussed below. If you’re thinking of following suit, make sure you’re aware of both the advantages and the risks of C-sections before making your final decision. Your doctor will be able to help you decide whether you’re eligible for an elective Cesarean.

The Advantages

  • It tends to be more convenient, as the mother will know when the baby will be born and can arrange for family help, work leave, furniture delivery and so on. 
  • It reduces the risk of birth trauma to the baby, which is sometimes sustained from passing through the birth canal or due to assisted delivery. 
  • There is a reduced risk of oxygen deprivation to the baby during delivery.
  • There is less risk of sexual dysfunction during the first three months postpartum.
  • It reduces the mother’s risk of incontinence, which is the inability to control urinary or fecal excretions. 
  • It can help reduce the stress of anticipating labor.
  • It forgoes labor pains which result from contractions during delivery.

The Risks

  • Recovery from a C-section takes longer than a recovery from a vaginal birth. 
  • Elective C-sections performed without proof of the baby's lung maturity can increase the risk the baby developing breathing problems.
  • The membrane lining the uterus might become inflamed and infected.
  • There is a risk of developing a urinary tract infection in the bladder or kidneys.
  • Abdominal surgery can lead to decreased bowel function, as it slows down the movement of waste through the intestines. 
  • There is a greater risk of developing a blood clot inside a vein after a C-section, such as in the legs or pelvic organs, than there is after a vaginal delivery. This can be life-threatening if the clot travels to the lungs. 
  • It is possible that a wound infection might develop around the incision area.
  • The needs for further operations may arise if nearby organs are injured during a C-section. 
  • There might be an increased risk of the development of serious complications in future pregnancies, such as bleeding, placenta previa, abnormal fetal positions and uterine rupture.

Your Decision

Before deciding whether to opt for an elective C-section, you should probably think carefully about the following issues:

  • The reasons why you’re considering having a C-section and whether these reasons are solvable. For example, if you’re afraid of labor pain, talk to your doctor about getting an epidural. 
  • Your doctor’s opinion on the matter and whether they are supportive of your decision to get a C-section.
  • If your doctor recommended a C-section due to medical reasons, ask for a second opinion to determine whether you really need one. 
  • Understand the full process involved in a vaginal delivery and how discomfort can be alleviated if you’re simply afraid of being in pain.
  • Get a realistic picture of the risks involved in both vaginal and C-section deliveries and don’t allow birth “horror stories” to misguide you.