Ceasearans, or C-Sections, represent about 30% of births in the U.S. The C-Section rate is high enough that it is the most common surgery performed in the country, with thousands performed nationwide every day. Despite its commonality, it is still a major surgery that can require significant recovery time. Significant recovery time postpartum can mean that mom has less energy or available attention for her newborn. For this reason, many expectant mothers try to avoid having C-Sections.

Sometimes C-Sections are planned. Sometimes C-Sections are inevitable, and must be performed for the safety of mom, baby, or both. If the decision to perform a C-Section is made during labor, it’s known as an emergency C-Section. Here are some of the factors that can increase the risk of having an unplanned C-Section.

These days, thanks to modern medicine, women are safely having babies later and later in life. However, by most definitions 35 (sometimes 40) is considered “advanced maternal age.” Quite unfairly, this can also known as a “geriatric pregnancy.” Once you approach 35-40, your risk of having a C-Section increases. This is most likely due to the fact that the older you are, the more likely you are to have other, assorted complications with your pregnancy like pre-eclampsia. Some of these complications can be avoided by staying as healthy as possible before and after conception, but many are unfortunately unavoidable.

With the exception of midwives, very few providers will deliver a breech baby vaginally. Typically if your baby is breech–either feet-down or butt-down–you’ll need a C-Section. If you find out in an ultrasound that your baby is breech, there are ways that you can change baby’s position and potentially avoid a C-Section. Spinning Babies (www.spinningbabies.com) may sound a bit kooky, but the site actually contains a wealth of tutorials and tips to help get your baby in the proper birthing position. If you can effectively “spin” your baby, you may be able to avoid a C-Section.

If you deliver pre-term, at less than 37 weeks, or post-term, at more than 42 weeks, you are at greater risk of a C-Section. Some studies say that even a late-term pregnancy of more than 40 weeks can increase your risk . Most risk factors of delivering early are out of your hands, so there isn’t much you can do to prevent a pre-term C-Section.

On the other hand, plenty of people think they know just the thing to prevent a late or post-term delivery. Ask any seasoned mother, and she’ll probably list a multitude of tricks to help coax your baby out on or around his due date. Know that there is no guaranteed method to naturally induce labor. Many of these “tricks” are simply old wives tales, but many expectant mothers agree that it doesn’t hurt to try them. Some of the most popular methods are walking or light exercise; sex (“what got baby in will get baby out”); eating certain foods, particularly spicy ones; and drinking red raspberry leaf tea. If you can induce your labor to occur around, but not past 40 weeks, you may decrease your risk of having a C-Section.


Simply put, if you’ve had a C-Section once, you’re more likely to have one again. In the past, having one C-Section meant you were guaranteed to have them in the future and that vaginal delivery was completely off the table. Today, though, more women are trying for VBACs, Vaginal Births After Ceasareans. VBACs are becoming more successful, but they are still not guaranteed. Women who have had C-Sections in the past are still more likely to have them in subsequent births.

There are a multitude of factors that can increase your risk of having a C-Section: age, the position of your baby, the length of your pregnancy, the delivery type of any previous births, and an assortment of other pregnancy-related complications. Some of these risks can be mitigated, but many are out of mama’s hands. Certainly try to lessen your risk of a C-Section if that is in your birth plan, but preparing for all delivery options is always the safest bet.

These tips should not substitute for professional medical advice. If you have any questions about C-Sections or your own personal risk factors, please consult with your healthcare provider.