We hope not! But some women do, of course.

Cesarean delivery is definitely over-used in the United States. There are some good reasons why a woman might need one:

  • If she’s had a prior “Classical” cesarean delivery (where the incision on the uterus is made higher than normal)
  • If she’s had more than two prior regular (“low transverse”) cesareans
  • If she has placenta previa, where the placenta covers (or is very close to) the cervix or vase previa (where placental blood vessels cover the cervix)
  • If her baby is breech or sideways (and the doctor is unable to turn the baby to be head down)
  • If her baby is unable to tolerate labor (this should be unusual)
  • If her baby is too big (which is more than 5,000 grams or about 11 lbs for a nondiabetic mother or more than 4,500 grams or just under 10 lbs for a diabetic mother)
  • If her labor doesn’t progress or she is unable to push the baby out after sufficient time (most doctors don’t given women enough time for these things)
  • If she has triples or quadruplets
  • If she has active genital herpes or uncontrolled HIV

Those are just about all the reasons. We don’t know for sure, but probably half of all cesareans done are unnecessary. Most of the unnecessary cesareans are related to impatience, and new guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians, will result in significantly fewer cesareans if doctors follow them.