Important Questions Concerning Caesarian Sections
It's completely natural to be frightened. There are many things that could go wrong, but there are things you can do to relieve some of the anxiety. Be informed. Be prepared. Be ready for anything.
Caesarian Sections are very common and are performed when it may be impossible or unsafe to deliver the baby vaginally. To help you be prepared in the event of a caesarian section, I've compiled this short list of important questions.
What is a Caesarian Section?
A Caesarian section, or c-section, is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made in the pregnant mother's abdomen and uterus in order to deliver a baby. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 1 in 5 babies are delivered in this way. Since the majority of these caesarian sections are unexpected, it's a good idea to know a little bit about them, even if you are not having a high-risk pregnancy.
Why might I need a Caesarian Section?
Caesarian sections are performed when the health of the mother or baby is in jeopardy. Sometimes the necessity of a caesarian section can be anticipated, but most of the time the decision is made on the spot. You might need a Caesarian Section if:
- The cervix stops dilating or the baby stops progressing down the birth canal and all attempts to stimulate uterine contractions to get things moving have failed.
- The baby's heart rate becomes irregular and he or she may not be able to withstand continued labor and vaginal delivery.
- The baby's body is in an abnormal position, such as breech position where the baby's buttocks is coming out first, or if the baby is lying horizontally across the birth canal.
- The baby's head is face-up, instead of face-down.
- There is a problem with your placenta, such as placental abruption, where the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before labor begins, or placenta previa, where the placenta is delivered first, cutting off your baby's oxygen supply.
- You have had a previous caesarian section birth.
- Your baby has a health problem and will need immediate medical attention after birth.
- You have a serious health problem, like diabetes, heart or lung disease, or high blood pressure, and need induced labor, which can have adverse affects.
- Your baby is very large or if you have a small or abnormal pelvis.
- You have a primary herpes simplex infection in your genital tract, since the infection could be passed to your baby, leading to serious disease.
- A loop in the umbilical cord comes through the cervix, or prolapses, and becomes compressed, decreasing the baby's oxygen supply.
- You are carrying twins or multiples, since there is a higher possibility that one of the babies will be in an abnormal position.
What's the down side?
As with any major surgery, there are several risks involved with caesarian section births. The estimated risk of a mother dying after a Caesarian birth is less than one in 2,500. As a comparison, the estimated risk of a mother dying after a vaginal birth is less than one in 10,000.
- There is a risk of infecting other, nearby organs, such as the bladder or kidneys.
- Blood loss for caesarian sections is, on average, twice as much as with vaginal births. Even so, transfusions are only needed in about 1%-6% of cases.
- Surgery of any kind often causes the bowels to slow down for several days, resulting in distention, bloating, and discomfort.
- Both hospital stay and recovery times are longer for Caesarian Section births.
- In any situation where general anesthesia is used, there is a risk of pneumonia or unexpected reactions to the anesthetics.
- If the baby's due date was incorrectly calculated, it could result in premature delivery.
- Babies born by caesarian section are more likely to develop breathing problems during the first few days of life.
- There is a slight possibility that the surgeon could make a mistake and nick the baby while making the incision in the uterus.
Caesarian sections are more dangerous than vaginal births, and should only be performed when absolutely necessary. Since the decision to have a caesarian section is often unanticipated, it is important that you are familiar with the procedure, and discuss all of the possible scenarios with your doctor.