Richmond Practice - Should I have a Caesarean section or a vaginal birth?

Should I have a Caesarean section or a vaginal birth?

By Dr Elisabeth Peregrine, Consultant Obstetrician

Published in Baby Surrey, May 2015

One in four pregnant women in the UK has a Caesarean section (CS). If you have no complications in your pregnancy we would usually recommend planning to have a vaginal birth as this carries the lowest risk for you and your baby. However, there are some situations where we may recommend a planned (elective) CS such as if your baby is breech (bottom down) and we have been unable to turn them, if the placenta is low, certain infections such as HIV, or if your baby is small or needs to be born early. Some women will require an emergency CS after the onset of labour e.g. if there are concerns about the health of the baby or if your labour is not progressing.

If you feel you would like a planned CS your doctor or midwife should explain the risks and benefits of CS compared with vaginal birth.

Planned CS may increase the risk of the following in women and babies:
  • babies admitted to the neonatal unit
  • longer hospital stay
  • bleeding after the birth that needs a hysterectomy (removal of the womb)
  • a heart attack

But vaginal delivery may increase the risk of:

  • pain in the area between the vagina and anus (perineum) and abdomen (tummy)
  • injury to the vagina
  • heavy bleeding soon after birth
  • shock caused by loss of blood.

Consult your doctor if you have anxiety about giving birth. Discuss it with a healthcare professional, who can offer you support during your pregnancy and labour. If, after discussion, your obstetrician is unwilling to carry out a CS, they should refer you to another obstetrician who would carry out the CS.

Elsbeth's Doctors provides private pregnancy care and baby scan services by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, tailored to your needs. Our consultant gynaecologists and obstetricians offer continuity of care and our patients are assisted in a comfortable and caring environment.

To book an appointment call 030 0303 5009 or visit