Some possible risks of C-section include:. If she gets pregnant again, a woman with a C-section scar has a small risk of the scar tearing open during labour uterine rupture. She also has a slightly higher risk of a problem with the placenta , such as placenta previa. Before a C-section, a needle called an IV is put in one of the mother's veins to give fluids and medicine if needed during the surgery. She will then get medicine either epidural or spinal anesthesia to numb her belly and legs.
Fast-acting general anesthesia , which makes the mother sleep during the surgery, is only used in an emergency. After the anesthesia is working, the doctor makes the incision. Usually it is made low across the belly, just above the pubic hair line. This may be called a "bikini cut. See a picture of C-section incisions. After lifting the baby out, the doctor removes the placenta and closes the incision with stitches. Most women go home 3 to 5 days after a C-section, but it may take 4 weeks or longer to fully recover.
By contrast, women who deliver vaginally usually go home in a day or two and are back to their normal activities in 1 to 2 weeks. Before you go home, a nurse will tell you how to care for the incision, what to expect during recovery, and when to call the doctor. In general, if you have a C-section:. Call your doctor if you have any problems or signs of infection, such as a fever or red streaks or pus from your incision. Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Most caesarean sections are done with epidural or spinal anesthesia , used to numb sensation in the abdominal area. Only in an emergency situation or when an epidural or spinal anesthesia cannot be used or is a problem would fast-acting general anesthesia be used to make you unconscious for a caesarean birth. The hospital may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery, or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery. In preparation for a caesarean section, your arms are secured to the table for your safety, and a curtain is hung across your chest.
A tiny intravenous IV tube is placed in your arm or hand; you may be given a sedative through the IV to help you relax. A catheter is inserted into your bladder to allow you to pass urine during and after the surgery. Your upper pubic area may be shaved, and the abdomen and pubic area are washed with an antibacterial solution.
The incision site may be covered with an adhesive plastic sheet, or drape, to protect the surgical area. Before, during, and after a caesarean section, your blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm, and blood oxygen level are closely monitored. You will also be given a dose of antibiotics to prevent infection after delivery. After the anesthesia is working, a doctor makes the caesarean incision through your lower abdomen and uterus. See a picture of caesarean section incisions. You may notice an intense feeling of pressure or pulling as the baby is delivered.
After delivering your newborn through the incision, the doctor then removes the placenta and then closes the uterus and the incision with layers of stitches. Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. You will stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours, and then you will be moved to a hospital room.
In addition to any special instructions from your doctor, your nurse will explain information to help you in your recovery. A caesarean section can be done by a doctor who has specialized training, such as:. If your pregnancy care provider doesn't perform caesareans and foresees a possible need for a caesarean, you will be referred to a caesarean-trained doctor ahead of time. Your family medicine doctor or registered midwife can assist with the surgery and provide your follow-up care. Some caesarean deliveries are planned ahead of time.
Others are done when a quick delivery is needed to ensure the mother's and infant's well-being. Some caesarean sections are planned when a known medical problem would make labour dangerous for the mother or baby. Medical reasons for a planned caesarean may include:.
Many caesarean deliveries are planned ahead of time for women who have had a caesarean in the past. Medical reasons for a planned repeat caesarean may include:. Some women request to have a C-section even though there is no medical need for it. Experts don't agree on whether C-sections should be done when there is no medical reason. But it's major surgery, and major surgery has some risks. Some caesarean sections are done without planning, after labour has started. Medical reasons for an emergency caesarean may include:.
Caesarean section is considered relatively safe.
But it does pose a higher risk of some complications than does a vaginal delivery. If you have a caesarean section, expect a longer recovery time than you would have after a vaginal delivery. After caesarean section, the most common complications for the mother are:. While most women recover from both caesarean and vaginal births without complications, it takes more time and special care to heal from caesarean section, which is a major surgery.
Women who have a caesarean section without complications spend about 3 days in the hospital, compared with about 2 days for women who deliver vaginally. Full recovery after a caesarean delivery takes 4 to 6 weeks. Full recovery after a vaginal delivery takes about 1 to 2 weeks.
Women who have a uterine caesarean scar have slightly higher long-term risks. These risks, which increase with each additional caesarean delivery, include: footnote 5. After a routine caesarean section, expect to be monitored closely for the next 24 hours to make sure that you don't develop any problems.
You will receive pain medicine and will likely be encouraged to begin walking short distances within 24 hours of surgery. Walking can help relieve gas buildup in the abdomen. It is usually very uncomfortable to begin walking, but the pain will decrease in the days after the delivery. The typical hospital stay after a caesarean delivery is about 3 days. You can feed and care for your newborn as you feel able. Before going home, you'll receive post-surgery instructions, including warning signs of complications. It can take 4 weeks or more for a caesarean incision to heal, and it isn't unusual to have occasional pains in the area during the first year after the surgery.
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It is important to take care of yourself at home while you are healing. Call anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:. Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:. Some women feel shoulder pain for days after a caesarean section. This is referred pain , caused by trauma to the abdominal muscles during the delivery. It goes away on its own during recovery. If you plan to deliver vaginally and have concerns about having an unnecessary caesarean delivery, talk to your doctor or midwife ahead of time. Ask in what types of situations caesarean section is usually used and what steps he or she takes to promote a vaginal birth.
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Public health experts have urged the North American obstetric community to reduce the percentage of deliveries done by caesarean, identifying birth scenarios that may not necessarily require surgical delivery. These include:. Some doctors are more likely to see a need for a caesarean than others. For example, what one doctor considers a slow labour may be a normal labour to another. But all doctors are guided by the common goal of a healthy labour and delivery for both the mother and her newborn. Author: Healthwise Staff. Medical Review: Sarah A.
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor.
Top of the page. Topic Overview Is this topic for you? What is a caesarean section? When is a C-section needed? Reasons you might need an unplanned C-section include: Labour is slow and hard or stops completely. The baby shows signs of distress, such as a very fast or slow heart rate.
A problem with the placenta or umbilical cord puts the baby at risk. The baby is too big to be delivered vaginally. Reasons you might have a planned C-section include: The baby is not in a head-down position close to your due date. You have a problem such as heart disease that could be made worse by the stress of labour.
You have an infection that you could pass to the baby during a vaginal birth. You are carrying more than one baby multiple pregnancy.
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You had a C-section before, and you have the same problems this time or your doctor thinks labour might cause your scar to tear uterine rupture. What are the risks of C-section? Some possible risks of C-section include: Infection of the incision or the uterus. Heavy blood loss. Blood clots in the mother's legs or lungs. Injury to the mother or baby. Problems from the anesthesia, such as nausea, vomiting, and severe headache. Breathing problems in the baby if it was delivered before its due date.
How is a C-section done? How long does it take to recover from a C-section? In general, if you have a C-section: You will need to take it easy while the incision heals. Avoid heavy lifting, intense exercise, and sit-ups. Ask family members or friends for help with housework, cooking, and shopping. You will have pain in your lower belly and may need pain medicine for 1 to 2 weeks.
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You can expect some vaginal bleeding for several weeks. Use sanitary pads, not tampons. Health Tools Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health. Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems. How a Caesarean Section Is Done Surgery preparation Most caesarean sections are done with epidural or spinal anesthesia , used to numb sensation in the abdominal area.
Caesarean procedure and delivery After the anesthesia is working, a doctor makes the caesarean incision through your lower abdomen and uterus. Who to See A caesarean section can be done by a doctor who has specialized training, such as: An obstetrician. A perinatologist maternal-fetal medicine specialist. A family doctor with caesarean section training. A surgeon. Why It Is Done Some caesarean deliveries are planned ahead of time.
Planned caesarean Some caesarean sections are planned when a known medical problem would make labour dangerous for the mother or baby.
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Medical reasons for a planned caesarean may include: A fetus in any position that is not head-down including breech position. For more information, see the topic Breech Position and Breech Birth. Decreased blood supply to the placenta before birth, which may lead to a small baby. Estimated fetal size of over 4 kg 9 lb to 4. A maternal disease or condition that may be made worse by the stress of labour. One example is heart disease. A known health problem with the baby, such as spina bifida.
A placenta that is blocking the cervix placenta previa. For more information, see the topic Placenta Previa. Open sores from active genital herpes near the due date, which can be passed to the fetus during vaginal delivery. Infection with human immunodeficiency virus HIV , which can be passed to the fetus during vaginal delivery. Are saturated fats so bad? Are we getting fatter? Are you looking for a family doctor?
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