Information for the public
To enable you to make decisions about how to have your baby, your midwife or doctor should discuss with you the benefits and risks of a caesarean section compared with a vaginal birth, taking into account your circumstances, preferences, concerns and plans for future pregnancies (see Risks of caesarean section).
Women who have had both a previous caesarean section and a previous vaginal birth are more likely to have a vaginal birth than those who have had only a previous caesarean section.
If you need a caesarean section (see Medical reasons for considering a caesarean section and Reasons for needing an unplanned caesarean section), your healthcare team should explain to you why they think it is necessary and record their reasons for carrying it out.
Your healthcare team should record the level of urgency of any caesarean section. They will do this using the following standard categories:
When there is an immediate threat to your life or the life of your baby.
When there is concern about your health or the health of your baby, but your lives are not in immediate danger.
When there is no immediate concern about your health or the health of your baby, but you need an early delivery because of an existing condition.
When delivery is timed to suit you or your healthcare team.
Your doctor or midwife should explore and discuss your reasons with you and make a note of this discussion.
If your request is not for medical reasons, your doctor or midwife should explain the overall risks and benefits of caesarean section compared with vaginal birth. You should also be able to talk to other members of your healthcare team, such as the obstetrician or anaesthetist, to make sure you have accurate information.
If you ask for a caesarean section because you have anxiety about giving birth, your midwife or doctor should offer you the chance to discuss your anxiety with a healthcare professional who can offer you support during your pregnancy and labour.
If, after discussion (and the offer of support if you have anxiety), you still feel that you do not want a vaginal birth, you should be offered a caesarean section.
If your obstetrician is unwilling to carry out a caesarean section, they should refer you to another obstetrician who will carry out the caesarean section.