Birth by Cesarean Section

The months have flown by and now it’s almost time for baby to arrive! You have probably created a birth plan by now and are eagerly anticipating meeting your new little one. But now is also an emotional time for you and you may be experiencing worries and fears about your labor and delivery. The possibility of having a cesarean section may be at the top of your list of fears. Whether you are planning to give birth by cesarean section or not, it is important to know the ins and outs of this procedure, as well as the benefits and risks associated with it. Being prepared for the possibility of cesarean section will go a long way to allaying those fears.

What is a Cesarean Section?
A cesarean section is commonly called a c-section. Instead of a vaginal birth, during a c-section, your baby is delivered through your abdomen. For this procedure, the doctor begins by making a small, thin incision into your abdomen. Another incision is then made into your uterus, exposing the amniotic sac that holds your baby. The baby is then gently pulled out of the uterus and welcomed into the world.

When is a Cesarean Section Needed?
Most women prefer to give birth vaginally. Doctors also prefer this route as it is minimizes the amount of recovery time for mom and is the natural way for a baby to make his way into the world. However, you may suddenly find yourself being wheeled out of the delivery room into the operating room if certain complications arise during your labor.

The majority of cesarean sections are performed because of some difficulty arising during the labor and delivery process. You may be pushing with all your might, but baby still refuses to make her way down the birth canal. In cases like these, a c-section is often in order. During childbirth, your doctor will monitor you and your baby’s progress. If your cervix stops dilating (arrest of dilation) or if your baby is being stubborn about descending into the birth canal, your doctor may feel a c-section is necessary. It is hard on both you and the baby if labor is taking too long. To avoid extra complications, your doctor might suggest taking the baby out abdominally. In fact, 1/3 of all c-sections are performed because of slow labor. Also, if your baby’s heart beat suddenly becomes irregular a c-section could prevent her from becoming too stressed.

Your doctor will also keep an eye out for other situations that may cause problems for you and baby during your labor. A prolapsed umbilical cord could prevent your baby from getting the air and blood he needs to survive on his trip down the birth canal. This will necessitate birthing baby through cesarean section. If the doctor suspects your placenta may be tearing away from your uterus, a c-section will also be in order as this could endanger your baby.

Sometimes other factors can lead to a c-section. If your baby is too large to fit down the birth canal and through the cervix, a cesarean is probably the best option. If you are diabetic, have placentia previa or an outbreak of genital herpes, a cesarean section will be necessary to protect baby.

If you are expecting multiple births, a c-section may also be elected.

What will Happen During the Cesarean Section?
If you do end up having a c-section, don’t worry. By being prepared for the event you will feel much more calm and in control. Focus on the arrival of your baby who you can’t wait to meet! Unless it is an emergency situation, your doctor will talk to you about the procedure and ask you to sign a consent form. Then you will be brought to the operating room and given an anesthetic. General anesthetic is rarely given nowadays, so it will probably be an epidural or spinal block to numb your lower half. A catheter will be inserted into your bladder so that it can drain. An IV will also be put in your arm to keep you energized.

The nursing staff will screen you off so you won’t be able to see the cesarean being performed. However, your partner, after they dress up in surgical garb, will most likely be able to watch if he or she desires. A small horizontal cut is made just above your pubic bone. This is called a bikini cut and is less risky then the vertical classical cut. It is less likely to rupture if you decide to have another baby. A second cut will be made into your uterus and then it is time for the baby to arrive! The surgeon will gently pull your baby out, and while the bundle of joy is being checked out, you will have your placenta removed.

Your baby will then be handed over to your partner so you all can spend your first moments together. Meanwhile, the doctor will stitch you up, either with stitches or staples. This process takes about thirty minutes. Next, you and your newborn will be taken to be monitored, probably for three or four hours. Then you can join each other on the maternity ward!

Risks of Cesarean Sections
Hearing about the risks of c-sections may cause you to be even more afraid of the process. But remember, these risks are minimal, and your doctor will only suggest a c-section when it is absolutely necessary. As with any surgery, there is some risk associated with the anesthesia used during cesarean births. If you happen to be sensitive to the anesthetic used, you may experience a drop in blood pressure of respiratory complications. Infection is also of concern. Organs close to your uterus, like the kidney and bladder, may be infected during the c-section. If you have a c-section you may also notice increased blood loss. You will lose about twice as much blood as with a vaginal birth.

Your baby can also experience some problems associated with a cesarean delivery. Babies born through cesarean section tend to have a greater chance of having respiratory problems. In some cases, the surgeon could nick baby accidentally while making the incision.

Benefits of Cesarean Sections
Though cesarean sections seem like a scary and threatening process, they can actually be very beneficial to you and your baby. It is better to perform a c-section than to risk a long, complicated vaginal birth. Both you and baby will feel better for it. In fact, a c-section could save the life of both you and your newborn should complications arise during labor. Try not to feel scared. Remember that c-sections occur in almost 22% of all births.

Questions about Cesarean Sections? Other worries? Chat with other new moms in our forum.

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