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Cesarean Section

What is Cesarean Section?

Cesarean section, also called C-section, is a surgical procedure to give birth to a baby. It is a type of assisted birth procedure. It is a major surgery for pregnant women to deliver a fully developed baby from the mother’s womb via incisions in the abdomen and the uterus.

What are the Indications for Cesarean Section?

Cesarean section is considered under the following conditions:

  • Risks involved in a vaginal birth
  • Multiple births (more than one baby)
  • Large baby
  • Problems with the position of the baby in the womb
  • A problem in the cervix, resulting in failure of labor to progress
  • A problem in the umbilical cord or placenta
  • The baby shows signs of distress, such as slowed heart rate
  • You have a medical condition such as:
    • Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure
    • Infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Pre-Surgical Preparation for Cesarean Section

Before scheduling you for a cesarean section, your doctor will perform a thorough health check-up, including a review of your medical history, if you have given birth before, the type of birth you had – vaginal or C-section; your present weight, the health of your unborn baby, your current clinical symptoms, blood test reports, and other relevant lab reports. You may be asked to undergo radiology exams such as X-rays or ultrasound to determine the position of the baby in the womb.

  • You will be given specific instructions to follow until the course of your surgery.
  • You may have certain dietary restrictions.
  • You should take your previous medications as per your doctor’s instructions.
  • You should try to do some form of low-intensity exercise or Yoga regularly.

All of these instructions are given to aid a successful cesarean section.

Cesarean Section Procedure

The general steps for a cesarean surgery include:

  • You are placed on your back with your legs apart and the knees bent slightly inwards.
  • The choice of anesthesia: general anesthesia or regional anesthesia, such as a spinal or epidural block is decided by your surgeon based on the prevailing situation.
  • An intravenous (IV) line is placed in a vein in your hand or arm to administer necessary medications.
  • A thin tube called a catheter may be placed in your bladder to collect urine.
  • The incision site is cleaned.
  • The surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen which may be transverse (side-to-side) or vertical.
  • Underlying muscles are carefully separated.
  • A similar incision is made in the wall of the uterus.
  • Your surgeon reaches for the baby through these incisions and brings it out of the womb (uterus).
  • After the baby is removed, the umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is removed.
  • The incisions are then closed with a surgical suture (stitches).

Postoperative Care and Instructions

After the surgery, you are taken to the recovery area for post-operative monitoring.

  • You are required to stay in the hospital for a few days until you recover properly.
  • You are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids to prevent constipation.
  • If a catheter was inserted during the surgery, it will be removed as per your doctor’s discretion.
  • You can return to your normal activities in a few weeks, but complete recovery may take longer.
  • You are encouraged to walk, as soon as possible, after the surgery. This improves blood circulation and prevents clot formation.
  • You will be able to breastfeed once you are comfortable.
  • You are prescribed pain relief and other necessary medications by your doctor.
  • You should rest whenever possible.
  • Avoid the following:
    • Sex for up to six weeks after your C-section
    • Lifting heavy objects
    • Strenuous exercises
    • Squatting
    • Driving for a few weeks until you are comfortable

You should continue your follow-up visits with your surgeon to monitor your post-op recovery.

What are the Risks and Complications of Cesarean Section?

Every surgical procedure carries some amount of risk. Likewise, a cesarean section may also have certain risks and complications. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Side effects due to anesthesia
  • Injury to the other organs or surrounding blood vessels
  • Blood clots in your legs, pelvic organs, or lungs
  • Breathing problems
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Pain or skin changes such as redness or swelling at the incision site

What are the Advantages and Benefits of Cesarean Section?

The benefits and advantages of a cesarean section include safety for the mother and baby. Women who are scared or worried about pain during childbirth, may find it easier to be operated as the surgery is performed under anesthesia which keeps them unconscious.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists American College of Surgeons American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology