Risks of Cesarean Birth

A cesarean delivery can be a life-saving procedure for the mother and her child. However, it is also major abdominal surgery that puts the mother and her infant at increased medical risks. These include infections, hemorrhage, transfusions, and injury to other organs, anesthesia complications, and a maternal mortality two to four times greater than that for a vaginal birth.

Long term complications in subsequent pregnancies and labors include risk for uterine rupture, and placental problems such as placenta previaplacenta accreta, and placental abruption. Studies also show that a cesarean delivery, particularly when it was unexpected, may put some women at increased psychological risk for depression and post-traumatic stress. Taking a closer look at these risks may help women to make an informed decision.


The Truth About Cesarean Section,  a video interview with Eugene DeClercq, Ph.D., Boston University School of Public Health

Prevent Cesarean Surgery, a video

California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative,  Cesarean Deliveries, Outcomes, and Opportunities for Change in California

Coalition For Improving Maternity Services (CIMS), Risks of Cesarean for Mother and Baby

Childbirth Connection,  Best Evidence: C-Section

Childbirth Connection, What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean

NICE, U.K., Cesarean Section, Information For The Public

March of Dimes, What you need to Know About Cesarean Birth

American College of Nurse- Midwives, Preventing Cesarean Birth


Updated  January 3, 2014