A caesarean section is generally a very safe procedure, but like any type of surgery it does carry a risk of complications.

The level of risk will depend on things such as whether the procedure is planned or carried out as an emergency, and your general health.

If there's time to plan your caesarean, your doctor or midwife will talk to you about the potential risks and benefits of the procedure.

Risks to you

Some of the main risks to you of having a caesarean include:

Women are now given antibiotics before having a caesarean, which should mean infections become much less common.

Risks to your baby

A caesarean can sometimes cause the following problems in babies:

If you think your baby is having breathing difficulties after you have left hospital, see a GP or call NHS 111 straight away.

Risks to future pregnancies

Women who have a caesarean usually have no problems with future pregnancies.

Most women who have had a caesarean section can safely have a vaginal delivery for their next baby, known as vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).

But sometimes another caesarean may be necessary.

Although uncommon, having a caesarean can increase the risk of certain problems in future pregnancies, including:

Speak to your doctor or midwife if you have any concerns.

For more information, read the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists leaflet on birth after previous caesarean.

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019