C-Section (Cesarean Section)

A cesarean delivery also known as a C-section or cesarean section is the surgical delivery of a baby. It involves one incision in the mother’s abdomen and another in the uterus.

Why a cesarean delivery is done

Sometimes cesarean deliveries are planned early in the pregnancy, but they’re most often performed when complications from pregnancy make traditional vaginal birth difficult, or put the mother or child at risk.

Reasons for a cesarean delivery include:

  • Baby has developmental conditions
  • Baby’s head is too big for the birth canal
  • The baby is coming out feet first (breech birth)
  • Early pregnancy complications
  • Mother’s health problems, such as high blood pressure or unstable heart disease
  • Mother has active genital herpes that could be transmitted to the baby
  • Previous cesarean delivery
  • Problems with the placenta, such as placental abruption or placenta previa
  • Problems with the umbilical cord
  • Reduced oxygen supply to the baby
  • Stalled labor
  • The baby is coming out shoulder first (transverse labor)
The risks of a cesarean delivery

Vaginal birth remains the preferred method for the lowest risk of complications. But a cesarean delivery is  a major surgery that carries risks for both mother and child. 
The risks of a cesarean delivery include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Breathing problems for the child, especially if done before 39 weeks of pregnancy
  • Increased risks for future pregnancies
  • Infection
  • Injury to the child during surgery
  • Longer recovery time compared with vaginal birth
  • Surgical injury to other organs
  • Adhesions, hernia, and other complications of abdominal surgery

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