Approximately 33 percent of American women give birth via a C-section or a cesarean delivery every year.
A C-section is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. This procedure is an alternative to giving birth naturally through the vaginal canal. This approach can be planned ahead of time to deliver your baby on a set date, or if you develop pregnancy complications during a vaginal delivery.
Why would you need a C-Section?
If your labor is not progressing normally, a C-section is the next step.
- Your labor may not be progressing fast enough, or your cervix is not opening wide enough, even after pushing for several hours. Another reason may be because the baby’s head is too big for the birth canal.
- If your baby is not getting enough oxygen or the baby’s heartbeat changes, a C-section is the quickest way to deliver your baby. Or perhaps, your baby is in an abnormal position; such as if the baby is breached, i.e., their feet or bottom is entering the birth canal first, or the body is transverse (shoulder-first), and then a C-section may need to be performed.
- Perhaps you are carrying twins, triplets, or more multiples. Often when carrying more than one baby, it is common for at least one or all of them to be delivered by a C-section, as it is safer for both you and your babies.
- Another reason a C-section would be the best choice if there is a problem with the placenta and you have a placenta previa when the placenta is so low in the uterus that it covers the cervix. Or you have an obstruction, such as a large fibroid that would make a vaginal delivery difficult or impossible.
- If you have already had a prior C-section, sometimes a repeat C-section may be recommended for having a vaginal delivery, dependent on what your obstetrician decides is safest for both you and the baby.
What are the Risks of a C-section?
Though rare, there are risks to any procedure performed
- Your baby may develop transient tachypnea, where the baby breaths abnormally perhaps more quickly for the first few days after birth.
- Accidental injury to the baby can occur.
- You can develop endometriosis, where the inside lining of the uterus is inflamed and infected.
- You could experience increased bleeding during a C-section, where a transfusion may be necessary.
- Moms can sometimes experience an adverse reaction to Anesthesia; this could appear as a severe headache, when sitting upright, following the days after delivery.
- With any surgery, there is the possibility of developing a blood clot in the legs or pelvic area after a C-section. It is helpful to walk frequently after your procedure.
- Wound infection around the incision site, for the mom, is also a possibility.
How To Prepare For A C-Section
Your doctor may recommend certain blood tests before having a C-section, such as typing your blood in case of the unlikely event that you needed a blood transfusion.It is always good to prepare for the unexpected. If you plan to have a vaginal delivery, it is also good to be informed of the nature of a C-section, should that have to be the necessary option for the baby’s safety.
Plan ahead and recruit family and friends to help after the C-section, as some downtime is needed to help recover for a few weeks afterward.
What To Expect During A C-Section — Your Baby!
- The length of Procedure: Approximate time is an hour or less, and your spouse can stay in the operating room with you.
- At Home before Surgery: Bathe with an anti-bacterial soap the night before and the morning before the C-section if possible, to help battle any risk for infection.
- Hospital: Someone will clean your abdomen area, as well as insert a catheter to help collect urine during your procedure. You will also be given an IV in your hand or arm, to provide medication and fluid. An antacid may be given to reduce the risk of an upset stomach during the procedure.
- Anesthesia: The majority of women undergoing a C-section are given regional anesthesia, which means only the lower section of your body is numb, so you can still experience the birth or your child.
- The incision in Abdomen: This incision is near the pubic hairline, making a horizontal incision through the abdomen wall making their way to the baby. If the baby or the mother is at risk and the procedure needs to be performed quickly, your obstetrician may have to make a vertical incision down from the naval to the pubic bone.
- Uterine Incision: Is the second incision made in the uterus horizontally
- The Delivery: The delivery is not painful at all, although you may feel a little movement from the doctor removing the baby from the uterus. The baby’s mouth will be cleared of fluids, and the umbilical cord is then cut. After your placenta is removed, the incision will be closed with sutures.
Recovery of A C-Section At The Hospital
After your procedure, most of the time you and your baby stay in the hospital for approximately three days. Pain medication is available if you need it as the anesthesia is wearing off. You will be encouraged to take walks soon after the surgery to speed up your recovery, and help promote regularity. Your incision areas will be monitored for infection, while in the hospital as well as your bowel and bladder function.
Recovery When You Get Home
First Few Weeks – Avoid lifting and squatting and have things near you at arm’s length.
Drink plenty of fluids – After surgery, your body has lost a lot of fluids, so it is important to replace these as soon as possible. The fluids will also help prevent constipation.
Take Pain Medication as Needed – Tylenol or another acetaminophen can help relieve pain and are safe to use with breastfeeding.
Avoid Sex – 4-6 weeks after surgery, before having sex. Make sure your doctor gives you the green light!
Call Your Doctor If
- You show any signs of infection near the incision area- redness/swelling
- You have a fever of higher than 100.4
- You have severe abdominal pain
- Experience vaginal discharge that has a foul smell
- Experience pain while urinating
- Experience massive bleeding
- Experience leg pain or swelling
In the United States, the Following Procedures are Performed Annually
- 7.3 Million obstetrical procedures
- 1.3 Million cesarean sections
- 1.3 Million repair of current obstetric laceration
- 1 Million artificial rupture of membranes
- 700,000 plus medical induction of labor
- 320,000 episiotomies
FIND A TOP10MD OBSTETRICIAN NEAR YOU
It’s important that you trust your Obstetrician because the health of you and your child are in their hands during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. There are thousands of Obstetricians to choose from; however, not all doctors are created equal. That’s why we’ve selected your city’s best Obstetricians – to make the decision process easier for you and your family.
For your peace of mind, Top10MD Obstetricians’ credentials are validated yearly to verify medical licenses have no serious patient care sanctions, current Board Certifications in their given medical specialty, current DEA & DPS licenses, and malpractice insurance. A Top10MD has at least 5+ years experience or has performed 300+ procedures in their given specialty and a current Patient Satisfaction Score of 8.5 or higher.
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Source: National Hospital Discharge Survey NCHS