Alice's blog...

Elective caesarean section safety

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In the year 2009/2010, 8.3% of women giving birth at Royal Cornwall Hospital (Treliske) had an elective caesarean section (NHS Information Centre).

The reasons for choosing a caesarean are varied. For those experiencing a 'low risk' pregnancy and labour, intervention-free, vaginal birth is normally the most advantageous way for a baby to be born (Enkin 2000).

For those who require help - for either physical or unresolved psychological reasons, scheduled caesarean birth from 39 weeks can also be a low risk option, according to Dr Anthony Falconer, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology President:

"Recent advances in medical science have made the procedure much safer and for most women the complications of this operation are low" (press statement 2011).


Pregnant women should be offered evidence-based information and support to enable them to make informed decisions about childbirth.

Recently updated national NICE guidelines state that women who haven't had any problems in their pregnancy, having a first, planned caesarean birth, may be at an increased risk of experiencing the following, compared to if they had a planned vaginal birth:


  - baby admitted to neonatal intensive care: 13.9% vs 6.3%
  - hysterectomy caused by postpartum haemorrhage: 0.03% vs 0.01%
  - cardiac arrest: 0.19% vs 0.03%
  - longer hospital stay: 3.96 days vs 2.56 days


(Nice clinical guideline 132, published November 2011)