A cesarean section (or C-section) is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the abdomen and uterus instead of the vagina. This procedure can be done through either general or regional anesthesia.
A C-section may be planned in advance or unplanned if problems happen during labor. Reasons that might require you to have a planned or unplanned C-section include but are not limited to:
- baby experiencing distress such as irregular heartbeat, problems with placenta or umbilical cord
- baby is not in a head-down position close to due date
- baby is too big for vaginal delivery
- slow or hard labor
- you are carrying multiple babies
- you had a C-section before (this increases the risks for complications with vaginal birth)
- you have an infection that can be passed to the baby during delivery
- you have health problems that may be worsened by labor
Some women choose to deliver via C-section for reasons other than medical ones.
During a C-section, the baby is delivered surgically through an incision in the abdomen and uterus.
Risks and precautions
C-section is usually a straightforward and safe procedure. However, there are some risks of complications or side effects, including:
- accidental injury to the mother or baby
- blood clots in the mother's legs
- breathing problems in the baby (rapid breathing)
- increased risk of asthma in the baby
- increased risk of uterine rupture with future vaginal births
- infection, bleeding, and reaction to anesthesia for the mother
Talk to your doctor if you are worried about any of the symptoms or side effects you experience after this procedure.
It is important that you understand all the risks of complications and side effects of the procedure, and what you or your doctor can do to avoid them. Make sure that your doctor is aware of all your concerns.
Before the procedure
It is important that you fully understand what the procedure involves beforehand. Ask your doctor to explain the risks, benefits, and drawbacks of the procedure, and don't be shy to probe further until you are comfortable with your doctor's responses.
If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications, supplements, or herbal products, make sure you inform your doctor or pharmacist. Ask them whether it is necessary for you to stop taking any of these medications and products before having a C-section. It is also important to tell them if you have allergies to certain medications or have certain medical conditions.