A caesarean section, or C-section, is an operation to deliver your baby through a cut made in your tummy and womb.
Reasons for recommending a caesarean
For a proportion of women, birth by elective (planned) caesarean may be recommended. This could be due to you having a pre-existing medical problem, because of your previous pregnancy history or because an obstetric complication develops during your pregnancy. The reasons for recommending an elective caesarean and the benefits and risks will be discussed as well as exploring whether there are any other options for your birth.
If you have previously had a caesarean you will be referred to the Birth Options Clinic to discuss your options for vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) or an elective caesarean.
Asking for a caesarean
If you are considering requesting a caesarean for non-medical reasons, it’s helpful to tell your midwife early on in pregnancy. We will refer you to our Birth Options Clinic where you can discuss your request and access information to inform your choice.
Having a caesarean
Elective caesareans are usually carried out at 39 weeks of pregnancy. This is the optimal time as the likelihood of your baby needing to go to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) is very small. Some elective caesareans are carried out earlier than 39 weeks in which case the reasons will be discussed with you and you will be given two doses of steroid injections in order to prepare your baby or babies for an earlier birth.
There are usually two to three elective caesareans each day at both RSCH and PRH. Sometimes your operation may be delayed until later in the day due to emergencies on the labour ward. Sometimes women are offered the option of going to the other site if one site is busier than usual, and very occasionally elective caesareans are delayed until the next day.
We will endeavour to ensure that your elective caesarean is as individualised and special as possible. You can have one birth partner with you during the operation. You can bring your own music to listen to during the procedure. We promote skin to skin after your baby is born, if this is something you would like to do. Please let the team know if you have any additional requests and we will aim to facilitate your wishes as far as possible.
Information for women having an elective (planned) caesarean, produced by BSUH
Choosing to have a caesarean section, produced by the Royal College of Gynaecologists