What is a C-section?
Cesarean birth (also called C-section) is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut that your doctor makes in your belly and uterus. For some women and babies, a C-section is safer than vaginal birth. You may need a C-section because of medical reasons that affect your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is healthy and you don’t need a C-section, it’s best to have your baby through vaginal birth.
Medical reasons for C-sections
Your doctor may suggest that you have a C-section because of complications that make vaginal birth unsafe, for example:
- Previous C-section with vertical incision.
- Carrying multiple babies.
- Baby is in breech position (feet first).
- Placenta previa or other obstruction.
- Baby has a known malformation.
- Mother is HIV-positive.
- Mother has a chronic health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, that requires treatment.
- Complications during vaginal delivery, such as baby being too large or fetal distress.
If you’re scheduling your C-section, talk to your doctor about waiting until at least 39 weeks of pregnancy. This gives your baby the time she needs to grow and develop before birth.
You might feel upset that you won’t get to have the birth you wanted or planned, and that is normal. You have every right. But what you want more than anything else is a safe delivery and happy baby so don’t focus on the method, focus on the result; your beautiful baby is born!
Choosing a C-section?
It is not a good idea to have a C-section, unless there is a legitimate medical reason (see above). This is because C-sections can cause problems for you and your baby, especially in future pregnancies. Each C-section increases your risk for some serious complications in future pregnancies, which is why experts recommend a vaginal delivery if you intend to have several children. Be wary of doctors who push for C-sections without giving legitimate medical reasons, since C-sections often cost more for patients than vaginal births, and can be more convenient for doctors as they can be scheduled during ‘office hours’.
Some people think C-sections will be easier, less painful and less complicated, so it’s important to separate the myths from the realities.
Myth 1: Greater convenience. Yes, it can help you better plan for family help and work leave, but did you know you will:
- Not be able to schedule a C-section before 39 weeks so you must be ready if baby decides to come before that.
- Have added difficulty of recovering from major surgery while caring for a newborn and any other children.
- Be in the hospital for longer (an average of three days instead of one or two).
- Have to limit physical activity for several weeks.
- Have pain from your incision that can make it uncomfortable to breastfeed.
- Are significantly more like to return to hospital with complications.
Myth 2: Avoid pain of labor and delivery. Yes you not might not feel much pain during the surgery, but did you know you will:
- Likely have a longer, tougher recovery than most women with vaginal deliveries.
- Have pain in the weeks after delivery and will need medication.
- Have difficulty in picking up, caring for or feeding your newborn and other older children who might need extra attention given their new sibling.
- Likely still feel pain or discomfort during the process and after when the drugs wear off or give side-effects.
Myth 3: Minimize complications. Yes, you can avoid complications that happen in a small percentage of vaginal deliveries, but did you know that there are:
- Physical risks for the mother, both immediate and long-term. Since it is major surgery there are risks of complications such as infection, bleeding and injury to other organs. Once you have a C-section, you are more likely in future pregnancies to have a C-section, and this causes problems in future pregnancies such a placenta previa. The vast majority of tears that occur in vaginal births either cause little discomfort or may require stitches but usually heal well a short time.
- Psychological risks for the mother including negative feelings about the birth, and less early contact with her baby, which can harm bonding and breastfeeding and increase your risk for post-partum depression.
- Risks for the baby as Babies born by C-section may have more breathing and other medical problems.
Myth 4: Preserve ‘tightness’. Research has proven that long-term sexual function remains the same and is not impacted by vaginal birth. Vaginal tightness returns within six months post-partum after at least the first birth. You can do kegel exercises to tighten your vagina after a vaginal birth.
Recovering from a C-section
Your uterus will be repaired with dissolving stitches and your abdominal incision closed with sutures. These sutures are typically removed 3-7 days later. Right after surgery you will be taken to a recovery room and once you are ready your baby will be brought to you. If you plan to breastfeed, give it a try now. You may find nursing more comfortable if you and your newborn lie on your sides facing each other. If you need help, ask a nurse or you can call us anytime for free advice as we know it can sometimes be challenging to breastfeed after surgery. You will stay in hospital about 3 days and will be offered pain medication as necessary.
Category: All About C-Sections