This guideline updates and replaces 'Caesarean section' (NICE clinical guideline 13). The recommendations are labelled according to when they were originally published (see about this guideline for details).

This guideline has been developed to help ensure consistent quality care for women who:

  • have had a caesarean section (CS) in the past and are now pregnant again or

  • have a clinical indication for a CS or

  • are considering a CS when there is no other indication.

It provides evidence-based information for healthcare professionals and women about:

  • the risks and benefits of planned CS compared with planned vaginal birth

  • specific indications for CS

  • effective management strategies to avoid CS

  • anaesthetic and surgical aspects of care

  • interventions to reduce morbidity from CS

  • organisational and environmental factors that affect CS rates.

For the update, a number of topics have been addressed where new evidence had a bearing on the original recommendations. These topics are listed in about this guideline.

The guideline has not sought to define acceptable CS rates. Rather the purpose of this guideline is to enable healthcare professionals to give appropriate research-based advice to women and their families. This will enable women to make properly informed decisions.

The guideline will assume that prescribers will use a drug's summary of product characteristics to inform decisions made with individual patients.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)