A cesarean section also called a C-section, or cesarean birth is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and womb.
When it comes to giving birth, there are a variety of different ways that it can happen. One option that many mothers consider is having a cesarean section (C-section). This surgical procedure can be life-saving in some cases, but it also carries some risks.
This blog post will discuss the truth about cesarean sections: what they are, how they are performed, and the risks and benefits associated with them. We hope that this information will help you decide whether or not a C-section is right for you and your baby.
What is a cesarean section?
A cesarean section, also called a C-section or cesarean birth, is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and womb.
Cesarean delivery is typically performed when a vaginal delivery is not possible or safe or when the health of the mother or the baby is at risk. The baby is taken out through the mother’s abdomen.
What are the reasons for having a cesarean section?
In the United States, one in three women gives birth by cesarean delivery. Some C-sections are planned ahead of time, while emergency c-section occurs when unpredictable issues arise during delivery.
There are many reasons why a cesarean section may be recommended or needed. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Abnormal position of the fetus during birth. The baby is in a breech presentation (bottom down). This makes delivery more difficult through the birth canal.
- The baby is very large.
- The mother has a health condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure (preeclampsia), that makes vaginal delivery risky.
- The mother has had previous C-sections.
- The mother is pregnant with twins, triplets, or other multiples (multiple pregnancy).
- Labor is not progressing as it should.
- The baby’s heart rate is abnormal.
- The baby is in distress.
- Birth defects.
- Placenta previa or abruptio placenta
- Umbilical cord prolapse: The umbilical cord comes out of the cervix before the baby does.
Types of cesarean section
There are two main types of cesarean section: emergency and elective.
An emergency cesarean is usually performed when there are complications during labor, such as the baby being in distress.
An elective cesarean is a planned surgery that is scheduled in advance, typically for medical reasons.
What are the risks associated with cesarean section?
A C-section is major surgery and carries risks. It also takes longer to recover from a C-section than from vaginal birth. It can raise the risk of having difficulties with future pregnancies.
Some women may have problems attempting a vaginal birth later. There are several risks associated with cesarean section, both for the mother and the baby. These risks include:
- Surgical site infection
- Blood clots
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Abnormal separation of the placenta
- Wound infection
- Surgical injuries, such as damage to the bowel or bladder
- Trouble urinating or urinary tract infection
- Delayed return of bowel function
- Increased risk of complications in future pregnancies, such as placenta previa or placental abruption
The risk of your uterus tears opening along the scar line from a prior C-section (uterine rupture) is also higher if you attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean).
What are the benefits of cesarean section?
While there are some risks associated with cesarean section, there are also some benefits. These benefits include:
- A shorter hospital stay
- Reduced risk of incontinence and pelvic floor prolapse
- Reduced risk of infection
- Reduced risk of hemorrhage
What should you do if you are considering a cesarean section?
If you are considering a cesarean section, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. You should also ask about the possibility of having a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC) in a future pregnancy because the risk of uterine rupture increases.
This is a safe and effective option for many women who have had a cesarean section in the past.
Is a cesarean birth necessary if I have had a previous cesarean birth?
Women who have had a cesarean birth before may be able to give birth vaginally. The decision depends on the type of abdominal incision made during the previous cesarean delivery.
If you’re thinking about having a cesarean, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits. You should also inquire about the potential for a vaginal birth after a cesarean (VBAC).
How often is a cesarean section performed?
Cesarean section rates vary by country. In the United States, about 32 percent of births are cesareans. This is one of the highest rates in the world.
However, the World Health Organization recommends that no more than 15 percent of births should be cesareans.
Cesarean section is major surgery with risks and benefits. If you are considering a cesarean, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.
How to prepare for a cesarean section?
If you are having a planned cesarean section, your doctor will give you instructions on how to prepare. This usually includes:
- Stopping eating and drinking a few hours before the surgery
- Showering or taking a bath
- Arriving at the hospital
- Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any medicines, latex, tape, or anesthetic agents.
- Tell your healthcare provider if you have a history of a bleeding disorder or if you are taking any blood-thinning medicines.
What happens during a C-section?
A cesarean section is typically performed in an operating room. Your baby will be born through an incision in your lower abdomen and uterus during a cesarean section.
A C-section is most often performed by following these steps:
- You will be given a hospital gown to wear during the surgery.
- You will be asked to empty your bladder before the surgery.
- An intravenous (IV) line will be started in your arm to give you fluids and medicine during the surgery.
- You will be taken to the operating room.
- You will be given a sedative to help you relax.
- A screen will be placed so you cannot see the surgery.
- You will be given regional anesthesia such as spinal block or epidural anesthetic to numb the lower half of your body. In rare cases, the mother may need general anesthesia that puts her into a deep sleep.
- You will be positioned on your back on the operating table, with your legs elevated and supported.
- A drape will be placed over your lower body, leaving only the area being operated on exposed.
- The surgeon will make an incision in your lower abdomen and uterus.
- Your baby will be born through the uterine incision.
- The umbilical cord will be cut and clamped.
- The placenta will be delivered.
- The skin incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
- A dressing or bandage will be placed over the incisions.
- You will be taken to a recovery room to rest and be monitored for a short time.
- Your baby will be taken to a separate room for observation.
- You will be able to see and hold your baby when you are both stable.
What to expect after a cesarean section?
After a cesarean section, you will likely feel some pain and discomfort. Your doctor can prescribe pain medication for you to take after the anesthesia wears off.
In the recovery room, nurses will watch your blood pressure, breathing, pulse, bleeding, and the firmness of your uterus.
Usually, you can be with your baby while you are in the recovery area. However, in some cases, babies born by Cesarean will first need to be monitored in the nursery for a short time.
On day 0, you will be given clear liquids to drink. If everything is going well, you can advance to a regular diet on day 3. Stitches are removed about 5-6 days.
A hospital stay after a cesarean birth usually is 2–4 days. However, you may be able to go home sooner if you and your baby are doing well.
You will have follow-up visits with your doctor to check your incision, discuss birth control, and answer any questions you have.
It is important to take care of yourself after a cesarean section. Be sure to:
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat a healthy diet
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for the first few weeks
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
- Start walking gradually as soon as you feel able
- Avoid stairs for the first few days or weeks
- Doing Kegel’s exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Cesarean section is a common and generally safe surgery. Complications can occur, but most are not serious. Recovery from a cesarean section can take up to six weeks. Therefore, it is important to rest as much as possible and avoid lifting heavy objects during this time.
You will also need to take care when moving around, as your incision will still be healing. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.