Whether you are planning a C-section or have just had one, don’t fear, it's a very normal and common procedure.
In fact, over 30% of women in the U.S. today deliver their child via a cesarean section, and it’s absolutely not a sign of weakness! Some 8% percent of mothers actually request a C-section.
What is a Cesarean, or C-Section?
Ceserean section is the delivery of a baby through a surgical incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus. Many C-sections are indicated unexpectedly during labor, so whether you are planning for one or not, you should know the process and what a c-section recovery looks like.
What are some reasons to consider a C-section?
The reasons to have a C-section range from medical to personal. Some common medical reasons for a C-section include:
Abnormal position of the baby
History of previous of ceserean
Mother’s chronic medical condition
Prolapse of the umbilical cord
Ceophalopelvic disproportion (CPD)
Issues with placenta
Please note there are a number of other reasons to consider having a C-section and some of the listed reasons do not necessarily require a C section.
For example, some women who previously had a C-section may attempt a vagical birth (termed VBAC or Vagicanl Birth After Cesearean). Remember, each patient is unique and a conversation about risk and benefits for your particular circumstance should be discussed with you physician.
Should I have an elective C-Section?
As mentioned above, some women tend to elect to have a cesarean section. After reading this and our C section recovery post, you should have a fair idea of what they are like. So let’s dive into some of the pros and cons:
Pros of an elective C section
Less risk of incontinence and sexual dysfunction after the birth of the baby.
Lower risk of trauma to the baby in the birth canal during delivery
Less risk of fetal deprivation of oxygen during delivery.
Cons of an elective C section
More likely to need a repeat C-section with future pregnancy
Higher risk of surgery complications as compared to vaginal labor
Longer hospital stay (up to five days) and a longer recovery period.
Typically more pain after delivery
What’s it like having a C-Section?
The process starts by meeting your anesthesiologist either when you arrive in the hospital or in the operating room if it's an emergency. Your anesthesiologist will explain all relevant parts of the procedure and your unique circumstance. This will include asking what surgery prep supplements, medications, or other prenatal supplements you are taking, along with food consumed.
First, when you arrive in the operating room (OR), monitors will be placed to watch you and the baby. This will include electrocardiogram stickers on your chest, a blood pressure cuff, a sticker for pulse oximeter, and sometimes a fetal heart rate monitor.
These monitors allow your practitioner to closely observe your physiological parameters such as breathing, circulation, and oxygenation.
What kind of anesthesia will I receive?
All attempts are made so you will be awake throughout the procedure. There are several reasons for this:
First, there are personal preferences since many mothers want to meet the baby as soon as it’s born.
Second, putting the mother to sleep can include several potential risks for both the mother and child. Sleep necessitates giving mom medication either through IV or inhalation. Both methods often aid medications in finding their way to the baby which can interfere with the normal birthing process.
Sometimes babies who receive anesthesia through the mother may become lethargic at birth requiring one or several forms of treatment, which we hope to altogether avoid.
Further, the effects of anesthesia on small children remains unknown today. Some evidence from animal studies suggest it may be harmful to long term development, and thus national agencies have suggested delaying any elective surgery on children unless absolutely medically necessary.
That said, I was born via C-section under general anesthesia and suffered lack of oxygen for several minutes during the process. My standardized test scores didn’t seem to have suffered, so not everything is absolute, but we do try to minimize the risks whenever possible.
In the end, you will likely prefer to stay awake throughout the procedure; but rest assured, you will not be in pain.
Please continue to Part 2 of this blog post to read about the preferred type of anesthesia used, epidurals and spinals, the C-Section procedure, and what happens once the baby is delivered!
General Disclaimer: All information here is for educational purposes only and is not meant to cure, heal, diagnose nor treat. This information must not be used as a replacement for medical advice, nor can the writer take any responsibility for anyone using the information instead of consulting a healthcare professional. All serious disease needs a physician.