Background: Data about maternal outcomes of elective Caesarean section in low-income countries are limited.
Aims: To estimate the maternal morbidity and mortality associated with elective Caesarean delivery at a Nigerian University hospital.
Methods: Retrospective analysis of all elective Caesarean deliveries at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, Nigeria (1990–2005). For each case of elective Caesarean delivery, four parturients who achieved non-operative vaginal delivery following spontaneous onset of labour were selected to serve as a referent group. Morbidity outcomes and mortality among women who had elective Caesarean delivery were compared with those of the referent group to estimate their comparative risks. Level of significance was put at P < 0.05.
Results: A total of 164 elective Caesarean sections were performed out of 6882 deliveries (2.4%). All morbidities were more frequent among women who had elective Caesarean section compared to those who had vaginal delivery but only peripartum blood transfusion (11.6 vs 5.6%), puerperal febrile morbidity (11.0 vs 4.7%), unplanned readmission (4.3 vs 1.4%), mean fall in haemoglobin concentration (1.5 ± 0.6 vs 0.5 ± 0.7 g/dL) and mean hospital stay (13.3 ± 8.8 vs 6.2 ± 5.4 days) showed statistically significant differences. There was one maternal death among the elective Caesarean section group, giving a maternal mortality ratio of 6.1:1000 deliveries, which was not significantly different from 3.0:1000 deliveries in the referent group.
Conclusion: Elective Caesarean delivery in this hospital is certainly accompanied by considerable maternal risks and should be offered to pregnant women with extreme caution. Efforts should be made to improve its safety by investigating and rectifying the factors responsible for the associated severe maternal complications.