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Cesarean Section

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Pregnancy is risky period for both mother and baby. Even though mother and baby are doing find all through the three trimesters, the delivery becomes a crucial point. If all goes well, the baby is delivered through normal vaginal route. However, in certain cases complications arise and one has no option but to go in for cesarean section and bring the baby into the world. In this section, we shall have a short outlook on cesarean section and answer some of the common questions arising in one’s mind.

What is Cesarean Section?

Under normal conditions, a baby is delivered through the vaginal passage. When a surgical incision is made in the abdomen and uterus to deliver a baby, it is called as cesarean section, C-section or cesar.

A C-section is usually needed to perform when there is a risk to the mother’s or baby’s life. Also, in many cases, the mother becomes tired due to prolonged labor and is unable to push the baby. This situation calls for a cesarean section to be performed.  There are many other instances that require C-section. Let us learn about these in the next paragraph.

Need for C-Section

A cesarean section may be carried out due to complications during labor. At times, a ceasar is planned, because, the doctor may have observed complications that may occur beforehand during monthly examinations. Most of the cesarean sections are unplanned. Some of the reasons for unplanned C-section are as follows:

  • Baby is breech. This means the baby is the feet first or in the sideways position.
  • The placenta is too low in the uterus covering the cervix
  • A mother carrying multiple babies
  • The labor is too slow or the cervix does not open wide enough to allow the baby’s head through
  • Baby may suffer from lack of oxygen requiring an immediate C-section
  • The placenta detaches itself from the uterus before onset of labor
  • The mother suffers from genital herpes or HIV that can affect the baby
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  • The baby suffers from hydrocephalus, macrosomia (large baby) or similar birth defects
  • Umbilical cord gets compressed or starts slipping through the cervix before the baby
  • The mother may have undergone a previous delivery through C-section (not necessary in all cases. Many women who have delivered through C-section have given birth vaginally)
  • Death of fetus or baby inside the uterus before birth
  • Death of mother before or during labor

What Happens Before a C-Section?

Based on the circumstances, the doctor will decide to carry out a cesarean section. The doctor will explain it to the mother and her partner or family regarding the reasons for conducting a cesarean. Once it is decided, the doctor will call in for an anesthesiologist and give local anesthesia. This is an epidural or spinal block injection. It causes numbness in the lower half of the body without the mother falling asleep. In some cases, general anesthesia may be given.

During the procedure, a catheter is inserted into the ureter to drain the urine. IV is given for fluids and medications. The mother may be asked to drink an antacid to avoid vomiting stomach acids when unconscious. A screen is placed over the waist so that the mother does not see the actual operation conducted on her lower half.

Procedure for C-Section

The cesarean section is carried out after the anesthesia takes effect. The doctor will:

  • Swab the abdomen region with an antiseptic to clean the area and avoid possible infections
  • Make a small, longitudinal cut right above the pubic bone
  • Gradually, the underlying tissues will be cut and the doctor will reach the abdominal muscles. Once the abdominal muscles are reached, the doctor will separate the muscles with hand.
  • Finally, the uterus is reached and another longitudinal cut is made on it. This cut lies low, thus called as low-transverse uterine incision.
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  • The amniotic fluid is drained out with the help of a suction pump and the baby is clearly observed.
  • After opening the uterus, the doctor will reach for the baby to pull out. Once the baby is out, the umbilical cord will be cut and the neonatologist or nurse will take over the to examine the baby.
  • The baby will be cleaned and the mouth and nose cleaned to allow the baby to breathe easy.
  • In the meantime, the placenta is removed and the cuts are stitched. The stitches are made with dissolvable material.
  • The mother and baby are then wheeled into the recovery room and monitored for a few hours. After mother and baby are doing fine, the baby will be placed near the mother.
  • It is advisable to begin nursing the baby and build a strong bond with the new arrival.

Risks of C-Section for the Mother

With the advancement in medical surgery, the risks of cesarean section have gone down considerably. However, some risks that can affect a mother include:

  • Uterine infection
  • Blood clots in legs
  • Nausea, vomiting, headache due to the effects of anesthesia
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Breathing problems
  • Developing an incisional hernia

Cesarean section despite certain risks is quite safe for both mother and baby. Many lives have been saved with the help of C-section. More than half of the women who have undergone this surgery, have successfully given birth vaginally later. Speak to your health care provider for details, in case you are pregnant and have doubts related to C-section.

Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: February 23, 2015