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Caesarean birth

A caesarean section is an operation to deliver the baby by making a horizontal cut in the lower part of a woman’s abdomen (along the bikini line) and in the front wall of the womb.

This procedure can be performed as:

  • a planned operation – where a need for the operation is identified during pregnancy or before labour starts
  • an emergency operation – when problems arise before the start of or during labour that requires the imminent birth of the baby.

The following reasons are common indications for being offered a planned caesarean section:

  • Placenta praevia
  • Two or more previous caesarean sections
  • Some cases of twins (where the first twin is not head down)
  • Breech presentation (if external cephalic version ECV is unsuccessful)
  • Transverse lie
  • Some cases of severe high blood pressure
  • Fetal conditions
  • Failed induction of labour
  • Maternal infection (for example HIV)

We understand that decisions around mode of birth are personal and multifactorial.  As such, we always aim to provide women with choice regarding their mode of birth. Decisions regarding birth should take both medical and psychological needs into consideration and women will be offered support throughout pregnancy to reach a decision that meets their needs in line with the most current evidence available.

If you wish to have further information, a booklet is available in our antenatal clinics.