Caesarean section surgeries, more commonly known as “C-sections,” are alternatives to vaginal birth that typically result from complications in late pregnancy.
Caesarean section surgeries, more commonly known as “C-sections,” are alternatives to vaginal birth that typically result from complications in late pregnancy. The baby is delivered through a small incision made in the abdomen and uterus. The placenta is removed at the same time and the incision is closed; recovery takes one to two days longer in hospital and about six to eight weeks of overall recovery time after delivery.
Causes For C-Sections
Some C-sections are scheduled in advance, while others are not arranged for until the mother is already in labor or complications are detected during a regular prenatal checkup. A number of different conditions can prompt the doctor to recommend a C-section, including placenta previa, placenta abruption, and placenta accreta, breech or transverse positioning of the baby, triplets and other multiple births, and previous C-section deliveries.
This complex-sounding condition is actually quite simple; it occurs when the placenta is positioned very low within the uterus and covers the cervix. This prevents the baby’s head from achieving the proper position in order to begin the process of labor. Obstetricians may be able to detect this early in the third trimester by using ultrasound; in most cases, the C-section will be scheduled for sometime during or after the 39th week of pregnancy.
During the later stages of pregnancy, some women experience placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta detaches from the uterine wall. This can disrupt the baby’s supply of oxygen and needed nutrients and may necessitate an emergency C-section in order to protect the baby’s health.
Placenta accreta occurs when the placenta is implanted too deeply into the uterine wall; this can present difficulties for the mother at the time of delivery. The likelihood of placenta accreta is increased by previous C-section surgeries, so doctors typically recommend that women consider the risks and benefits before making a final decision on whether to attempt vaginal delivery after one or more C-sections.
Breech or transverse positioning
In order to deliver safely and without complications, it is usually preferable for the baby to be in the classic head-down position. The baby’s head should press firmly against the cervix in order to create pressure that helps labor to progress. In some cases, however, the baby is not positioned correctly. It may be in breech position, where the legs or bottom are against the cervix; other babies may be lying sideways across the cervix. These positions typically do not allow labor to progress normally; if the baby cannot be shifted manually by manipulation through the abdomen, the obstetrician may recommend a C-section to protect the health of both mother and baby.
While twins can often be delivered vaginally, medical experts recommend that triplets and larger sets of multiples be delivered via C-section in order to protect the babies against harm during the delivery.
Women who have had a previous C-section due to improper positioning or placenta previa can often attempt vaginal delivery on subsequent births; however, some physicians recommend against this due to a slightly increased risk to both baby and mother from possible weakening of the uterine wall.
Babies delivered by C-section are typically just as healthy as those delivered by natural childbirth and may be more attractive during the first days after birth, since the head will not have undergone compression in the birth canal and thus will have a more rounded appearance. Modern C-section surgery leaves only a small scar and typically leaves no lasting side effects. In cases where C-sections are recommended, women can typically remain awake for the procedure and can hold and nurse their babies soon after they are born. This allows the bonding process to begin just as early for C-section moms as for those who delivered via natural childbirth.