c section at st lukes

The Unplanned C-section

When this procedure may be necessary and what to expect at St. Luke’s

Delivering a baby is as safe as it has ever been thanks to some pretty impressive medical advancements within the last century. One of these advancements is the C-section. While this should bring moms comfort, many are still nervous about the possibility of delivering via C-section. If left unaddressed, these worries can make a delivery date feel like a scary uncertainty instead of the exciting celebration that it should be. That’s the last thing I want for expecting moms.

If you’re struggling through some C-section worries, I want to reassure you that St. Luke’s Birthing Center actually performs this procedure less often than the national average, and it’s only done when medically necessary.

When is a C-section needed?

The need for an unplanned C-section can happen pretty quickly and the redirection from an expected vaginal birth to a surgical intervention can feel overwhelming. At St. Luke’s, your labor and delivery team will keep you informed and as calm as possible should this situation arise. Here are some of the most common reasons a C-section would become medically necessary:

  • Baby is not in a head-down position. Delivery can become problematic if baby is in breach (feet or butt first), transverse (shoulder-first) or any position other than head-down. Unless it is possible to adjust baby’s position, a C-section is the safest option.
  • Baby does not fit through the birth canal. Sometimes a baby is too big, or mom’s pelvis is small.  
  • Baby is in distress. Some babies do not tolerate the stress of labor contractions. In these cases, it’s important that they are delivered as quickly as possible.
  • Serious pregnancy complications. Some moms develop serious pregnancy complications that require rapid delivery for the safety of both mom and baby.

Most importantly, a C-section will not be performed at St. Luke’s unless it is medically necessary. That means you can trust the St. Luke’s team to do what’s best for you and your little one no matter what happens during your labor.

Birth is birth

A C-section is a surgical solution to some of the most common complications during labor and delivery. A hundred years ago, the national maternal mortality rate surrounding childbirth was as high as 1 in every 100 deliveries. Today it’s about 1 out of every 10,000. Part of that improvement has to do with the ability to deliver babies via C-section. That means safe, successful deliveries are now possible when they wouldn’t have been before, and that is something to be celebrated.

Still, some moms may associate guilt or failure with the idea, as though they have done something wrong or are somehow less of a mom if they need to deliver their baby this way. In truth, mothers who deliver via C-section are undergoing a necessary surgery that ensures their child’s health and safety. There’s nothing to feel guilty about and it certainly doesn’t make you any less of a mother. 

C-sections at St. Luke’s

At St. Luke’s we focus on family bonding time immediately after birth, no matter how baby is delivered. In most cases, the baby is immediately placed on mom’s chest right in the surgical suite after delivery. Often, breastfeeding can begin right then as well.

To get a better feel for what a C-section is like at St. Luke’s, read Lindsay’s C-Section birth story and then watch a video that follows her right into the operating room. Although her delivery was planned and had a much different pace from an emergency C-section, it still offers insights into what the experience would be like.

St. Luke’s Birthing Center is located in Duluth, MN, with St. Luke’s clinics in the surrounding region, including Superior, WI. To schedule a tour of St. Luke’s Birthing Center, call 218.249.5605.


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