Caesarian birth, also known as a C-section has been on the rise in the recent years and became the most common surgical procedure in the United States. As much as 1 out of 3 babies is delivered by C-section and for that reason it is very important to be well informed about Caesarian birth and what to expect even if you plan a vaginal birth.
A C-section is typically performed when vaginal delivery poses health risks for the mother or her baby, or both although the research also shows that there has been a rise in demand for Caesarian birth in cases when vaginal delivery could have been done safely (elective Caesarian sections). It has its advantages but it is highly important to be aware that C-section is a major surgery which carries certain risks for both the mother and her baby.
Caesarian delivery involves an incision through the abdomen and another one in the uterus posing a risk of injury to the nearby organs, wound infection and infection of the membrane that lines the uterus (endometritis), blood clots which in turn pose a risk of pulmonary embolism and increased risk of future pregnancy complications including a potentially life-threatening uterine rupture (tearing of the uterus along the scar from a previous C-section). In addition, the babies who are delivered by a C-section are more likely to develop respiratory problems. Most health experts therefore strongly disapprove Caesarian delivery unless vaginal birth poses safety concerns.
A C-section usually lasts about an hour. Before the procedure, a nurse or a member of your health care team will cleanse your abdomen and place an IV into your vein in your arm. Then you will be receive a regional anesthesia which will enable you to see and hear everything during the delivery. You will not be able to hold your baby immediately after birth but you will be able to see him or her. However, emergency cases may require a general anesthesia. In this case, you will not be awake during the birth.
Two incisions are made during a C-section – though your abdominal wall and in your uterus. The abdominal incision is usually made horizontally near the bikini line but the doctor may also make a larger vertical incision above the pubic bone if necessary. Then he or she will make an incision in your uterus and gently pull out your baby. You will feel no pain at any time during delivery. After removing the placenta, the uterine and abdominal incisions will be closed with stitches.
After the Caesarian delivery, you will be monitored for any signs of infection or other complications and encouraged to walk shortly after in order to reduce the risk of blood clots. You will be released from the hospital after about four days but you will need a few weeks to recover from the C-section completely. While you are recovering, avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby, make sure that you get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids and follow all your doctor’s instructions very carefully. To alleviate the pain, you can take the pain relievers as instructed by your health care provider.