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Caesarean section: What to expect?

Here is a quick easy reckoner to empower you with information about caesarean birth so in case you or your condition or your doctor chooses to deliver you this way you are confident to experience this way of childbirth. Even if you don’t think you’ll have a C-section, it’s smart to learn what it entails, just in case you need one. About 30% of all babies are born by C-section, so they’re fairly common. They are usually undertaken to ensure safe delivery for you and your baby.

What Is a C-Section?

A C-section is a way of delivering a baby by surgery by accessing the uterus (womb) through a surgical incision on your tummy. It is also known as a caesarean birth.

During delivery, your doctor might decide that you need to have a C-section right away. This can be a sudden change if your health or your baby’s health takes a turn for the worse and it’s too risky for you to have a vaginal birth.

C-sections are safe for mothers and babies. But it is a major surgery, so you shouldn’t take it with due care.

Why Are C-Sections Performed?

You may plan to have a C-section because of certain health issues with you or your baby:

  1. If you’ve already had a C-section, you may not be able to deliver your next baby vaginally.

  2. Mothers can give some infections, like HIV and active herpes, to the baby during a vaginal delivery.

  3. If you have certain conditions, like diabetes or high blood pressure, a C-section may be suggested

  4. The placenta may be blocking your cervix: placenta previa or stuck: placenta accretes

  5. Your baby may be too large or in the wrong position such as a “breech” or “oblique” for vaginal delivery.

  6. Your baby may have birth defects that make a C-section safer.

  7. You may start out delivering vaginally but switch to a C-section if there are problems.

  8. Your labour may stop progressing.

  9. The doctor may notice signs of distress in your baby, like an irregular heartbeat.

  10. The umbilical cord may get wrapped around the baby, or enter the birth canal before the baby does.

  11. The placenta may separate from the uterus before the baby is delivered

  12. Your cervix may be tightly closed and not ready for delivery yet

  13. Your baby may have less liquor surrounding it or less blood supply

  14. The baby may be a small or sick baby needing delivery

Types of C-Sections

There are several different types:

Planned C-section

If you know in advance that your baby will be born via C-section, you’ll know the date and likely won’t even go into labour. Before the procedure, you’ll get an IV so that you can receive medicine and fluids. You’ll also have a catheter (a thin tube) put into place to keep your bladder empty during the surgery. Crossmatched blood is always kept ready in case it is needed for severe bleeding as a safety practice.

Most women who have planned C-sections get regional anaesthesia, either an epidural or a spinal block as this is the safe approach. This will numb you from the waist down, so you won’t feel any pain. This type of anaesthesia lets you still be awake and aware of what’s going on. Your doctor may offer you general anaesthesia in some special situations where the region is not safe or possible. Which will put you to sleep, but it’s unlikely for most planned C-sections.

The doctor will place a screen across your waist, so you won’t be able to see the surgery as it happens. They’ll make one cut in your belly, then another one in your uterus. You won’t feel them because of the anaesthesia.

But you may feel the doctors pushing or pulling on your middle section as they work to remove your baby from your uterus. You may feel nothing, or it may feel like pressure, but it shouldn’t hurt.

You should be able to hear and see your baby once it or they are born. The doctor should let you hold them right after the C-section is finished. If you’re planning to breastfeed, you may also be able to try feeding your baby.

Sometimes, babies that are born by C-section have trouble breathing and need help from doctors. If this is the case, you should be able to hold your baby after a doctor decides that they're healthy and stable.

After your baby is born, your doctor will remove your placenta and stitch you up. The entire procedure should take only about 45 minutes to an hour.

Emergency C-section

During an emergency C-section, a few things will be different, including the speed and urgency of the surgery. The doctor can deliver your baby about 2 minutes after they make the incision in your uterus. (During a planned C-section, this may take 10 or 15 minutes.)

The speed may be necessary: If your baby is having trouble breathing or their heartbeat isn’t steady, doctors want to get them out of your uterus quickly and into the hospital, where they can get crucial medical help to get them stable.

If you have an emergency C-section, your anaesthesiologist may be able to quickly give you medicine through your epidural to make you numb, so you still may be able to be awake during the procedure. If not, you may get general anaesthesia and sleep through the entire surgery. You won’t feel pain or pressure, see or hear your baby being born, or be able to hold your baby right after birth. But when the anaesthesia wears off, you should be able to see, hold, and feed your baby.

What are C-Section Risks?

A C-section is a common procedure. But as with any surgery, there is a chance something could go wrong. However, care is taken and optimum protocols are followed when I deliver to you

Risks of a C-section include:

  • Infection

  • Heavy bleeding

  • Blood clots

  • Reaction to anaesthesia

  • Damage to organs like the bladder or intestines

  • Injury to the baby

Having a C-section can scar your uterus and make it more likely you’ll have problems with future pregnancies. But many women go on to have healthy pregnancies and safe vaginal deliveries after a C-section.


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