It’s very possible that one of the first things you thought about when you found out you were pregnant, or even when you and your partner were simply talking about conceiving, were those awful delivery scenes in movies. You know the ones—the women are screaming obscenities at their husbands and holding their hands so hard that they crush the bones. People start getting in arguments in the waiting room and family secrets come out…! But that may not be in your future (okay, I don’t know about the family secrets part) if your doctor determines you’re best-suited for a cesarean section. Though far more intrusive and actually rather serious procedures, they aren’t nearly as chaotic as vaginal delivery. It’s no wonder many women opt for one, whether or not their doctor recommends one. So, are you a candidate for a c section? Here are some reasons you could be.
An umbilical cord prolapse
If the umbilical cord begins to exit the cervix before the baby does, this could put too much pressure on the cord, making it difficult for the baby to receive enough oxygen during a vaginal birth.
The placenta is the organ that delivers nourishment and oxygen to a baby during pregnancy. There are several complications that can occur with the placenta, and if one does, it’s likely your doctor will call for a cesarean.
If you’re far past your due date—around 41 weeks is quite late—your baby can be too big to leave vaginally and you may need a c-section.
Should you go into labor too early, your doctor may also call for a cesarean. If you’re several weeks before your due date, then the baby isn’t yet positioned correctly for a vaginal birth.
Sometimes, even if you’re right on time, your baby is still not positioned correctly for vaginal birth. He may be positioned with his feet or butt down, which is called a breech birth. In a breech birth, a baby can get wrapped in the umbilical cord on the way out, so a c-section may be necessary.
A constricted cervix
If your cervix doesn’t completely dilate by the third stage of labor, your doctor may call for a cesarean. A cervix that is only partially dilated can put pressure on a baby as she leaves the vaginal canal.
Abnormal heart rate
Your doctor will monitor your baby’s heart rate throughout your pregnancy. If she notices the baby has an abnormal heart rate, that could mean he is not getting enough oxygen, and a c-section may be necessary.
If you have fibroids (small, compact tumors) in your cervix, these can obstruct a vaginal delivery, making it difficult for a baby to pass through the canal.
If the mother is having an active vaginal herpes outbreak when she goes into labor, the doctor may call for a cesarean so as to not expose the baby to the virus.
If your doctor determined during pregnancy that your baby has birth defects, he may recommend a cesarean. Vaginal birth poses a risk of further complications.
Small exit/large object
If you have a small pelvis, a large baby, or worse—both—your doctor will probably state that you need a cesarean.
Triplets and beyond
Should you give birth to triplets, there is a good chance your doctor will call for a cesarean early on in your pregnancy. Trying to pass that many babies through the vaginal canal poses too many risks.
Should you develop gestational diabetes, this can result in a larger than average baby. In this case, a doctor will call for a cesarean.
Sometimes during pregnancy or labor, the uterine lining can rupture, which can cause the mother to hemorrhage or the baby to lose oxygen. This would be grounds for a cesarean.
You’ve already had one
If you have already had a cesarean for a previous child, you may need another. Around 90 percent of women are candidates for vaginal birth after cesarean, but, sometimes, vaginal birth after a cesarean can result in a uterine rupture.