What is Caesarean Section?
A caesarean section, or C-section, is an operation to deliver the baby through a cut made in the tummy and womb, especially in cases where vaginal delivery would put either the mother or baby(ies) or even both at risk.
Why are Caesareans carried out?
1. A Caesarean may be recommended as a planned (elective) procedure or done in an emergency if it is thought that vaginal birth is too risky.
2. Your baby is in the breech position (feet first) and your doctor or midwife has been unable to turn them by applying gentle pressure to your tummy, or you’d prefer they did not try this.
3. You have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia).
4. You have pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia).
5. You have certain infections, such as a first genital herpes infection occurring late in pregnancy or untreated HIV.
6. Your baby is not getting enough oxygen and nutrients – sometimes this may mean the baby needs to be delivered immediately.
7. Your labour is not progressing or there’s excessive vaginal bleeding.
What happens during a Caesarean Section?
Most caesareans are carried out under spinal or epidural anaesthetic. This means that you’ll be awake, but the lower part of your body is numbed so you will not feel any pain.
During the procedure, the following happens:
1. A screen is placed across your body so you cannot see what’s being done – the doctors and nurses will let you know what’s happening.
2. A cut about 10 to 20cm long will usually be made across your lower tummy and womb so your baby can be delivered
you may feel some tugging and pulling during the procedure.
3. You and your birth partner will be able to see and hold your baby as soon as they have been delivered if they’re well – a baby born by Emergency Caesarean because of foetal distress may be taken straight to a Paediatrician for resuscitation.
4. The whole operation normally takes about 40 to 50 minutes.
5. Occasionally, a General Anaesthetic (where you’re asleep) may be used, particularly if the baby needs to be delivered more quickly.
P.S: Planned caesareans are usually done from the 39th week of pregnancy.
What are the risks of a Caesarean Section?
It is important to note that a Caesarean is generally a very safe procedure, but like any type of surgery, it carries a certain amount of risk. It is important to be aware of the possible complications, particularly if you’re considering having a Caesarean for non-medical reasons.
Possible complications include:
1. Infection of the wound or womb lining blood clots.
2. Excessive bleeding.
3. Damage to nearby areas, such as the bladder or the tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder.
4. Temporary breathing difficulties in your baby.
5. Accidentally cutting your baby when your womb is opened.
Future pregnancies after a Caesarean Section
If you have a baby by Caesarean Section, it does not necessarily mean that any babies you have in the future will also have to be delivered this way. Most women who have had a Caesarean Section can safely have a Vaginal Delivery for their next baby, known as vaginal birth after Caesarean (VBAC).
However, you may need some extra monitoring during labour just to make sure everything is progressing well. Some women may be advised to have another Caesarean Section if they have another baby but this depends on whether a Caesarean is still the safest option for them and their baby.