I’m worried about labour and want to ask for a planned Caesarean?

Q: Can I get a C-section on demand?


Consultant obstetrician Leonie Penna replies:

A Caesarean where there is no medical need is often called a ‘maternal request’ Caesarean. It can be granted as a privilege but it can’t be demanded as a right.


A Caesarean section is a safe operation and when performed on a healthy woman for the first time, many doctors believe it’s as safe as a normal birth. However, there are risks that differ from a normal birth, and these increase with repeat Caesareans or in women with a history of medical problems.

There’s also evidence that women who deliver by Caesarean are more likely to have only one child, although the reasons for this aren’t absolutely clear.

National guidelines recommend that your obstetrician considers your request, but in an uncomplicated pregnancy, they don’t have to agree to it. Your obstetrician will want to discuss your reasons in detail. They may refer you to a counsellor to explore your fears about normal delivery.


If they decide to refuse your request, they should offer you a second opinion with another obstetrician. In my experience, many doctors will agree, but they will make it clear it’s your choice rather than their recommendation.

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