Questions to Ask About Before You Have a C-Section

Pregnant woman sitting on pregnancy bed in hospital

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Questions about any medical test or procedure are important for you to get the best care possible for you and your baby. It shows your doctor or midwife that you are interested in being a partner in your health and helps you gain the knowledge you need to make a decision.

This is often called informed consent. It should be automatic, but oftentimes women say yes to something and they aren't sure of why it's being done or any other information. When the discussion involves surgery, like a cesarean section (c-section), you need to pay particularly close attention because it will impact your baby's health, future fertility, and your health.

If You're in Labor

You've been in labor a few hours. A cesarean is suggested:

You need to ask:

  • Are you or your baby in immediate distress?
  • Are there signs of fetal distress? If yes, what are they? (Heart rate changes, meconium, etc.)
  • Is there an option other than a cesarean?
  • Can you delay the decision about a cesarean?

If Your Doctor Wants to Schedule a C-Section

Your baby is thought to weigh a lot. Your doctor suggests a cesarean:

You need to ask:

  • Why do they believe your baby to be large?
  • How accurate is this measurement?
  • Why would a cesarean be better for your baby than vaginal birth?
  • Are there other alternatives?
  • What are the benefits of waiting until labor begins?

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.