Objective: To compare maternal complications and infant outcomes for women undergoing elective caesarean sections based on a maternal request and without recorded medical indication with those of women who underwent spontaneous onset of labour with the intention to have a vaginal birth.
Design: Retrospective register study.
Setting: Sweden; Medical Birth Register used for data collection.
Methods: A case-control study of 5877 birth records of women undergoing caesarean sections without medical indication and a control group of 13 774 women undergoing births through spontaneous onset of labour. The control group was further divided into women who actually had a vaginal birth and women who ended up with an emergency caesarean section.
Results: Maternal complications occurred more frequently among women undergoing caesarean section with odds ratios (OR) for bleeding complications of 2.5 (95% CI 2.1-3.0) in the elective caesarean group and 2.0 (95% CI 1.5-2.6) in the emergency caesarean group. The OR for infections was 2.6 in both groups. Breastfeeding complications were most common in women having an elective caesarean section: 6.8 (95% CI 3.2-14.5). Infant outcomes showed a higher incidence of respiratory distress with an OR of 2.7 (95% CI 1.8-3.9) in the elective caesarean section group compared with infants born by emergency caesarean section. The risk of hypoglycaemia was at least twice as high for infants in the caesarean group.
Conclusions: Caesarean sections without medical indication as well as emergency caesarean sections were associated with higher risks for maternal and infant morbidity.
© 2013 The Authors BJOG An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology © 2013 RCOG.