Labor & Delivery: Unplanned C-Section

Sometimes planned vaginal births can turn into unplanned c-sections. Find out the most common reason why this happens and what to expect.


An unplanned C-Section is not always an emergency C-Section. An emergency C-Section is one that has to happen right away because we're worried about mom, or baby, or both. Some examples would be if mom is suddenly bleeding, or if we're worried the baby is not getting enough oxygen. An unplanned C-Section is one where the baby is not coming, but nobody is in immediate danger. The most common reason for one of these unplanned C-Sections is that the mom is not making progress in labor. You've gotten stuck somewhere. So for example, if you reach 6 centimeters of dilation in labor and then you stop making progress. A couple of hours, we'll check you again. We'll try changing your position. We may try giving you some Pitocin to increase the strength of your contractions, but if you stay stuck at 6 centimeters there's nothing else we can really do to make you fully dilated. And this is what we call cephalopelvic disproportion. This means that with great effort and contractions, we cannot make the baby come through your pelvis and this is a reason to deliver you by C-Section.

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