There are many reasons for cesareans and they vary with the individual woman, as well as the individual pregnancy. The chance of needing a cesarean depends on how your pregnancy is progressing and what complications may arise as your due date draws near. Sometimes cesareans aren’t the only option and the reasoning is questionable, while other times there are legitimate medical reasons making a cesarean unavoidable. In some situations, cesareans can be life-saving for mothers and babies.
Occasionally, an emergency arises when your baby may need to be delivered within a matter of minutes. An emergency cesarean may be caused from such things as: a prolapsed cord (when the umbilical cord comes through the cervix before the baby’s head, preventing blood flow and oxygen from reaching the baby), which occurs in close to 4% of births, placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before birth), placenta previa (when the placenta is low and covers the cervix either partially or completely) and uterine rupture (when the uterine tissue tears).
Fetal distress is another cause for the need of a quick delivery leading to a cesarean. This happens when there are concerns about the baby’s health during labor. Changes in the baby’s heart rate (when it’s very fast, very slow or irregular) may signal a problem such as he or she is not responding ideally to contractions or is not getting enough oxygen, either because the umbilical cord is being compressed (pinched or wrapped around something) or the placenta isn’t functioning properly.
If the baby is mal-positioned (not in a good position for vaginal birth), a cesarean may be recommended, although sometimes babies can be turned or can be delivered vaginally anyway. Some common positions include: transverse (lying sideways) and breech (feet or bottom first). Breech positions account for between 12- 15% of all cesareans.