What is a C-section?
A Caesarean section, also referred to as C-section for short, is a surgical procedure in which the baby is delivered from the mother’s womb by surgically opening the abdomen and then the uterus. A C-section may be planned and done before the pregnancy reaches full term if there are any health risks to the mother or child. It may also be done as an emergency procedure during childbirth.
However, these days it has become fairly common in developed nations for women to opt for a C-section. In this case it is referred to as an elective Caesarean section meaning that the mother has chosen this route to deliver the baby. There has been some controversy recently as to mothers and their obstetricians opting to deliver babies through elective C-section as early as 36 weeks to ensure that the mother does not go into labor by waiting any later.
Reasons For C-Section
A C-section may be beneficial and sometimes even necessary for the mother as well as the baby because of the following reasons like:
- When the labor is not progressing which is the most common indication for C section. Usually in these cases the most common reason for the labor is not progressing is the failure of opening of the cervix in spite of strong contractions or when the baby’s head is larger than the mother’s birth canal.
- The baby is not getting enough oxygen after labor starts.
- The baby is abnormally positioned inside the mother’s uterus. C-section is the best option to deliver the baby if the feet or buttock of the baby enters the birth canal instead of the head (breech position) or shoulder or one side of the baby (transverse) is the first part of the body to be presented through the birth canal.
- C-section is safer if the mother is carrying more than one baby like twins or triplets.
- If the placenta gets detached from the inner wall of the uterus before the onset of labor (placental abruption) or it covers the mouth of the cervical canal.
- If the umbilical cord carrying blood with oxygen and other nutrients from mother to baby is compressed during contraction of the uterus or the umbilical cord slips through the cervical opening before the baby.
- If mother has uncontrolled high blood pressure or any other heart disease or the mother suffers from infection that may be transmitted to the baby through vaginal delivery like genital herpes or HIV infection.
- If the baby has certain diseases like hydrocephalus where the head is abnormally large because of excessive fluid accumulation in the brain.
If a Caesarean section is to be performed before the 39th week of pregnancy then lung maturity of the baby has to be checked. Sometimes mothers prepared for vaginal delivery may require an emergency C-section where such checks cannot be done. Usually it takes about an hour for completion of C-section.
Before surgery the abdomen is to be cleaned and an intravenous line is established. Usually spinal or epidural anesthesia is preferred but in an emergency situation general anesthesia may be required. Incision is made in the lower part of the abdomen horizontally. Similarly transverse incision is made in the lower part of the uterus and baby is delivered through the incision. The incisions are sutured and the mother is kept in hospital for up to 3 days. If there are no complications, then a further hospital stay is not necessary.
What To Do And Not Do Afterwards
- Breastfeeding can be started immediately.
- Use painkillers as prescribed.
- Walking around as soon as possible is advisable but do not squat or lift heavy weights.
- Consult with a doctor if there is any bleeding from the site of the incision.
- Take antibiotics, if prescribed for an infection, for the entire duration and as directed by the doctor.