Cesarean Section or C-section: Procedure, Risk and Recovery

A cesarean section is the cutting of the abdomen and womb in order to birth the child. The recovery period for this procedure is around one month and has many possible complications. If the baby’s head is bigger than the mothers’ pelvis or if the mother has some abnormalities and the baby cannot be born naturally, it is best to undergo cesarean section.

What is Cesarean Section?

cesarean section

This is the cutting of the abdomen and the womb allowing the baby to be born. If the baby or the mother has some abnormalities and natural childbirth is difficult or if during natural birth there appears some complications, then cesarean becomes necessary. During this procedure, you will definitely need to be anaesthetized by a doctor. So if you are planning for a cesarean birth, choose a hospital or a specialist clinic with good facilities.

Prepare for Cesarean Birth if You Have One of the Conditions Below:

1) Pelvic Abnormality

The most common reason for a cesarean birth is due to the pelvis being too narrow or uneven for the baby to pass through. During the course of pregnancy, there will have been ultrasound and gynecological examinations, so it is easy to assess the size of the baby’s head and the size of the mothers’ pelvis. If there are found to be complications, it is at this point that the decision to perform a cesarean birth is made. Formerly, an X-Ray would have been performed to show up any fetal abnormalities, but few hospitals perform this examination in recent times

2) Older Aged Mother

As the baby passes through the birthing canal, it will cause the passage to become hard and aged. So as the baby does pass through, the process will be much slower and if the baby gets stuck during the process, the baby may appear dead.

In former times, older-aged first time mothers or any mother with a hardened birthing canal would opt for a cesarean section to avoid a difficult delivery. Recently according to doctor’s assessments, there are some that are still able to be born naturally.

3) Placenta Previa

The placenta previa is positioned below the womb, and will block the opening of the womb. When the contractions start, there is a danger of the placenta being pushed out before the baby. If there are any problems with the placenta function, then it would be safer to undergo a cesarean section. If during pregnancy the placenta didn’t fully develop and if the pregnancy lasts longer than expected, the function of the placenta will diminish which is another reason for the necessity of a cesarean section.

4) Sickness during Pregnancy

If you are sick before pregnancy or becomes sick during pregnancy, then it may be safer to choose a cesarean birth. If you are diagnosed with gestosis, heart problems, kidney disease or diabetes, this could cause complications with the baby so maybe you need to opt for cesarean birth or induced labor. Furthermore, if there is a condition of hysteromyoma or ovarian tumor, natural birth will be difficult.

5) Incorrect Position of Baby

The baby swims around in the amniotic sac and around the 36th week of pregnancy, the baby’s head will enter the mother’s pelvis so the feet are pointing upwards. If the baby is not positioned correctly approaching childbirth, that is to say the head is pointing upwards and the feet are pointing downwards, then a cesarean section is needed. If in this case a natural birth is opted for, the umbilical cord may become stuck between the baby’s head and the mother’s pelvis thus cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby causing it to suffocate. Also, if the baby’s head is squeezed into the birthing canal, it can cause injury to the brain.

For the majority of cases the baby will turn around the 36thweek of pregnancy, getting ready for imminent childbirth, but if the baby has still not positioned itself correctly, then a cesarean section is necessary.

6) Twins

If the mother is pregnant with twins or more babies, due to the greater weight bearing down on the opening of the womb, there is a danger of premature birth or the birth will typically take 50% longer than a normal birth. There is also a possibility that one of the babies is not positioned correctly, so there are many such pregnancies that undergo cesarean section in the 37th week.

7) Premature Birth

Any birth before the 37th week of pregnancy is called ‘premature’. Underweight babies are so called if their weight is less than 2.5 kg after birth. If during natural childbirth there are no complications, there is no need for cesarean birth. But if it is the case that the baby is not fully matured or has not turned around, or if there are any illnesses or conditions present, in this case a cesarean must be performed.

8) The first time for a Cesarean birth

If you have a cesarean birth, this does not mean that for future children it is impossible to give birth naturally. But if the womb has been torn or there is such a danger, then it is normal to continue to give birth by cesarean section.

9) Oversize Baby

Although it is important for a newborn baby to weight around 4.0-4.5 kg, but more important is whether the baby is much bigger than the birthing canal, in this case a natural birth will have its risks so a cesarean birth may be opted for. During natural birth, an oversize baby will give rise to many serious problems and will have risks for both the mother and child.

Natural Birth changes to Cesarean Birth

10) Complications with the baby

If the birth process takes too long, there is danger of the womb tearing, and the baby’s life is at risk. At this point, a cesarean section must be immediately performed. During the last regular checkup for the mother, we can determine if the heartbeat, pulse and movement is too weak then a decision can be made at that point for a cesarean birth or induced labor.

11) 24 Hours after the Rupture of the Amniotic Sac

24hours after the amniotic sac has ruptured; there is a high risk of infection. If the progress is not smooth during an induced birth, then a cesarean section may be opted for. When the sac has ruptured, the umbilical cord will be below the baby and may be pushed out before the baby and so a cesarean section is needed to prevent this.

12) Early Detachment of Placenta

If the placenta detaches from the womb before the baby is born, this is called ‘placental abruption’ and can cause severe bleeding causing the mother to spend great energy dealing with the pain. Furthermore, because the baby does not receive oxygen from the mother, there is a risk of death. Therefore, if during labor there is placental abruption, then a cesarean section will need to be immediately performed.

13) When there is Danger of the Womb Being Torn

If the extremity of the contractions is unable to be endured, the womb itself may rupture and tear. The exact reason why the womb will tear is not clear, but the majority of women who experience this problem are those that have previously had a cesarean section or a womb reduction surgery. If the womb becomes ruptured, then the mother will go into shock and a cesarean section must be performed immediately.

14) If Labor is delayed

If the birthing canal is harder than normal, the passage of the baby through it will be delayed as it cannot fully open. If it is decided that the mother has insufficient strength to birth the child by natural means, then a cesarean section will be needed.

Q&A Cesarean Birth

Q. In what ways is a cesarean birth bad for the child?

A. From the baby’s point of view, there is a higher percentage born with a respiratory disorder than with natural births. This is because as the baby passes down the birth canal, the lungs will be stimulated and thus will allow the lungs to work better, but a cesarean birth will not provide this. Another aspect that reports have shown is that babies born naturally have a higher IQ than those born with a cesarean section. Because as the baby is pushed through the birth canal, the baby’s spine will be physically stimulated, this is beneficial for the development of the brain.

Q. Will the mother recover quickly after a cesarean birth?

A. A mother will be hospitalized for 3 days for a natural birth, and around 8 days for a cesarean birth. There are some natural births where the mother is only hospitalized for 1 day. Because natural birth mothers will breast feed the baby, the womb will quickly contract and is can visibly heal itself. In contrast, cesarean mothers through using anesthetic and pain killers will greatly compromise the body’s self-healing ability, and the recovery time will reflect this.

When preparing for labor, the joints, stomach and intestines function will all be reduced irrespective of what method of childbirth you chose. Regardless of what method of childbirth you chose, the same readjustment process is required.

Q. Can the baby be breastfed?

A. Even though there was a cesarean birth, milk will begin to appear 3 days after the birth. This is slower than natural births due to the influence of antibiotics. Even if the milk has not yet come, you can still allow the newborn to suck on the nipple or perform a breast massage to open the veins and circulation in the breasts. The painkillers taken during surgery will in some small volume pass to the baby through the milk, but this will not have any significant effect. In conclusion, the question all comes down to whether the mother wants to breast feed or not.

Q. After one cesarean section, will every birth need to use cesarean section?

A. In my country, for all the mothers that have a cesarean section, 90% will also need to have one the second time. But in America, the second time cesarean sections are only 25-40%. There are many women who have had a cesarean and feel a natural birth is dangerous for them because the area that was operated on may tear open but this actually only happens in 0.5-1.8% of cases.

Q. If there are different types of anesthetic, will the pain be different?

A. For most cesarean births, the whole body will be anaesthetized. Recently, more people use spinal anesthesia. If there is a full body anesthetic, there will be no pain during child birth but as the effects wear off, there will be severe thirst and pain in the area operated on. Painless labor, also known as ‘spinal anesthesia’, is done from the back and will not feel any pain from the surgery, but the whole labor process can be felt. But as the anesthetic wears off, the pain is easier to tolerate than the whole body anesthesia.

Most people choose a whole body anesthetic because it is cheaper, and spinal anesthesia has to use extra equipment and requires an anesthetist to be in attendance to adjust the dosage accordingly.

That’s it for cesarean section information that would be of help for pregnant women.

Sandra Henderson

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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