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Emergency Caesarean Delivery

While very pregnant woman wants their baby delivered safely and the majority of women plan to have their babies via vaginal birth, there are times things do not go as planned and the safest option is to deliver by caesarean section.


What it is

An emergency caesarean section is a C-section that is unplanned. It may occur in the context of a planned vaginal birth where concerns about the mother’s or baby’s wellbeing lead to the need for caesarean delivery, or in the context of a planned caesarean delivery where baby decides to arrive before the planned delivery date.


About 2 in every 5 caesareans are unplanned, emergency caesareans.


What to expect?

Emergency C-sections differ from elective C-sections mainly in the areas of preparation and timing. Depending on the urgency of the delivery, all the aspects of a caesarean delivery from consent for the procedure through to preparation for theatre and the operation itself may occur much more quickly.


Even in the case of urgent delivery being required, the vast majority of emergency caesarean deliveries are still able to be performed under regional anaesthesia (epidural or spinal block) meaning mothers can stay awake but remain pain-free during the surgery. In the rare cases of general anaesthesia being required, however, mothers are not awake for the delivery.

Usually, a standard horizontal (bikini line) incision is made to deliver your baby. 



An emergency C-section may be needed for several reasons. These include:

  •   Multiple births (you are carrying more than one baby) with complications.
  •   Prolonged labour (labour isn’t progressing as expected). E.g. if the cervix fails to dilate normally.
  •   Prolapsed umbilical cord (the umbilical cord drops into the vaginal canal ahead of the baby).
  •   Placenta abruption (the placenta get detached from the wall of the mother’s uterus).
  •   Severe bleeding/ haemorrhage
  •   Severe pre-eclampsia
  •   Fetal distress
  •   Maternal distress- the mother is too tired or exhausted to push.
  •   Baby’s position (breech)
  •   Uterine rupture (your uterus tears along a scar from a previous C-section).



Recovery can vary depending on the reason for the emergency delivery. Optimising pain relief and encouraging early mobilisation are key to getting back to normal as quickly as possible, being mindful to be careful of activities like lifting heavy objects, climbing stairs, sports, and so on for a while.


Medications such as antibiotics and pain-relievers will be prescribed to you by your doctor. You may also be given specific instructions and require check-ups to follow up with you post-surgery.


You can make an appointment with Dr Kenny on 07 3188 5000.

This article is written to be informative and does not substitute seeking a professional consultation from a medical professional.

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To speak directly with a team member please call 07 3188 5000