Cesarean Delivery: Resource Overview

A cesarean birth, often called a C-section, is the delivery of the baby through incisions in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Cesarean deliveries, whether elective or medically necessary, have risen dramatically in recent decades in the United States, making evidence-based research on methods, postoperative care, and how to safely reduce their incidence all the more imperative. Ob-gyns, physicians whose primary responsibility is women’s health, are best suited to help women determine whether cesarean delivery is appropriate for their pregnancy.

Here are the key publications and resources for ob-gyns, other women’s health care providers, and patients from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other sources.

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Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers
Resources for Women and Patients
External Organizations

Resources for Ob-Gyns and Women’s Health Care Providers

Obstetric Care Consensus: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery

“Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery,” issued jointly by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) and ACOG in March 2014, presents data on the increase of primary cesarean deliveries in the United States, as well as approaches in specific circumstances to safely reduce the rate of this procedure. It includes national and state-by-state data, maternal and neonatal risks and benefits, indications for primary cesarean deliveries, and the challenges in changing cultural and professional attitudes.

Committee Opinion: Cesarean Delivery on Maternal Request

“Cesarean Delivery on Maternal Request,” issued by ACOG in April 2013, offers evidence-based guidelines for primary prelabor cesarean delivery on maternal request. It provides research on risks to both mother and child, physical and psychological factors in decision making, and topics for patient counseling. In the absence of maternal or fetal indications for cesarean delivery, the Committee Opinion states, a plan for vaginal delivery is safe and appropriate and should be recommended to patients.

Book of Guidelines: Guidelines for Perinatal Care (members only)

“Guidelines for Perinatal Care,” a 599-page publication developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Fetus and Newborn and issued by ACOG in October 2012, includes a section titled “Cesarean Delivery,” starting on page 192. It provides clinical guidelines for hospitals and physicians performing emergency and elective cesarean deliveries.

Patient Safety Checklist: Preoperative Planned Cesarean Checklist

“Preoperative Planned Cesarean Checklist,” issue by ACOG in December 2011, is a preoperative patient safety checklist that includes medical history relevant to planned cesarean delivery. It is to be completed by the health care provider during the patient’s admission to the hospital.

Patient Safety Checklist: Scheduling Planned Cesarean Delivery

“Scheduling Planned Cesarean Delivery,” issued by ACOG in December 2011, is a patient safety checklist that includes relevant medical history and topics to be discussed prior to scheduling a planned cesarean delivery. The form is to be completed by the patient’s health care provider and submitted to the respective hospital, which can then review the appropriateness of the scheduling based on the information contained on the checklist.


Resources for Women and Patients

Patient FAQ: Cesarean Birth (C-section)

“Cesarean Birth (C-section),” issued by ACOG in May 2015, is a list of questions and answers for the patient relating to cesarean birth, including a description of the procedure, reasons for cesarean delivery, potential complications, and what to expect after a cesarean.

Patient FAQ: Elective Delivery Before 39 Weeks

“Elective Delivery Before 39 Weeks,” issued by ACOG in June 2013, is a list of questions and answers for the patient explaining issues surrounding elective delivery before 39 weeks. It covers such topics as medically indicated delivery, length and development of normal pregnancy, potential health problems for babies born too early, and risks of induced labor.

External Organizations

The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine is an organization that offers physicians and scientists a place to share knowledge, research, and clinical best practices with the goal of improving care for mothers and their babies. Its website includes links to articles, guidelines, and scientific studies covering various issues related to cesarean sections.


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of more than 58,000 members, ACOG strongly advocates for quality women’s health care, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care.

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American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
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