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.
Retrospective register study.
Sweden; Medical Birth Register used for data collection.
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.
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.
Caesarean sections without medical indication as well as emergency caesarean sections were associated with higher risks for maternal and infant morbidity.