Vaginal or Cesarean Birth: What Is At Stake for Women and Babies?

With escalating multi-stakeholder attention on cesarean overuse, an ever-growing body of evidence, and new opportunities for consumer education and shared decision making, Childbirth Connection undertook a scientific review to summarize for all stakeholders the most current best evidence on the health consequences of cesarean delivery. While the expected benefits of cesarean delivery vary depending on the indication and would be minimal in low-risk women, the potential harms are generally intrinsic to surgical delivery. Thus, this report focuses on adverse consequences of cesarean, and also explores adverse outcomes that may be intrinsic to labor or vaginal birth. The report presents the methods, findings, and implications of this best evidence review.

Executive Summary | Full Report

Companion booklet: What Every Pregnant Woman Needs to Know About Cesarean Section

Additional web-based content for women: Childbirth Connection’s Pregnancy Topic: Cesarean Section and a resource (PDF) to help pregnant women understand new 2014 professional recommendations for avoiding an unnecessary cesarean birth

Press Release: New Report Clarifies Consequences of Unnecessary C-section