Every woman should know about Cesarean birth. Cesarean births are sometimes called C-sections. A woman may have a Cesarean when there is a problem in labor or when the baby does not turn. A cesarean delivery is when a cut is made in the abdomen (tummy) and the uterus. Then the baby is delivered through it. The mother has been given an anesthetic to keep from feeling the pain. Sometimes there is a risk in having a vaginal birth, so a Cesarean birth would be safer. It protect the baby and the mother. Many babies are born by Cesarean section. It is not a sign of failure if you do not have a vaginal birth. It is more important that your baby be born healthy.
Why do some women need a Cesarean Birth?
Most reasons for the Cesarean are:
- The baby's head is too large for the mother's pelvis.
- The baby's heartbeat shows the baby is not getting enough oxygen.
- The baby's heartbeat may show other problems.
- The baby is in an awkward position (the buttocks or arms are coming first).
- There is more than one baby.
- The placenta is blocking the cervix (the uterus opening).
- The placenta comes loose from the uterus before the baby is born.
- The baby is more than two weeks past due and seems to have problems.
- The "bag of water" breaks and labor does not start.
- The mother has a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- The mother has diabetes.
- The mother has pre-eclampsia and/or increased blood pressure.
- The mother has severe vaginal bleeding late in pregnancy. Report ANY dizziness to your health care provider.
What questions should I ask?
During your prenatal visits, ask your health care provider for the choices you have in case you need a C-section. Knowing ahead of time can help you know what to expect. Discuss the different methods with your health care provider. Then you will be ready, if you need to have a Cesarean.
What happens in a Cesarean Birth?
A C-section delivery takes a 45 to 90 minutes.
Here is what usually happens:
- Your abdomen (tummy) is washed.
- Your blood is taken and typed in case there is a need to give you blood later.
- A tube is put in your bladder to drain urine into a bag. Your doctor can then keep the bladder away from the cut.
- An intravenous (IV) solution is inserted in your arm. This gives you nourishment or medication.
- You may get an antacid to calm your stomach.
- Your tummy is scrubbed again.
- You will be given an anesthetic.
- There are two kinds of anesthetics:
- A general anesthetic puts you to sleep.
- A local anesthetic, such as an epidural, numbs some areas but you are awake.
- Your doctor will decide which anesthetic to give.
- The cut is made and the baby is delivered.
- Your uterus and tummy are sewn back together. Staples may be used to close the cut in your abdomen instead of stitches. This step takes most of the time.
The TRANSVERSE cut is a horizontal cut. It is made across the bottom of the uterus. This is the quickest method. It is also called the bikini cut.
What happens afterwards?
If you have had a Cesarean delivery, you can sometimes nurse your baby right away. Breastfeeding is more successful if the baby sucks soon after birth. "Getting Started" might be a bit slower. The father should be allowed to hold and cuddle the baby, too.
This is a good time for parents and baby to get close to each other. Your will be taken to the recovery room after delivery. You will stay there until the anesthetic wears off. This may take two to five hours. Some hospitals allow the father and the baby to stay with you.
Your baby may be taken to the special care nursery to be watched. You will be moved to an area for new mothers after recovery. You may feel less social than the other mothers. You are in the hospital around three days for a Cesarean birth. Some stitches or staples may be removed about the fourth day at the health care provider's office. Stitches that are dissolved are sometimes used.
Feeling good again depends on your health at the time of the delivery. The reason for the C-section makes a difference, too.
How do you get back to normal?
You can prevent problems if you exercise while still in bed. The exercises reduce gas pains and speed recovery. They take some effort, but are worth it. Ask your health care provider about them. Rest is very important for your recovery.
You will need to help to care for your baby. You should have someone close to you come stay with you. They should plan to be with you for one to two weeks. You should not be alone until the baby is seven days old. Most of the time you will be resting in bed for those seven days. You will be able to get up to care for the baby and go to the bathroom.
If you have a C-section without problems, you should be up daily, but you should rest often. Do not lift anything heavier the your baby. When you start feeling better, you should still take it easy. You will delay feeling good again if you do too much, too soon. The scar tissue will fade but it will not go away. Usually, the same place is used if you have another C-section. The old scar tissue is removed.
A Cesarean is just one of two ways to have a baby. You need longer to recover, but you and your baby are healthy. Hold and touch your baby as soon as you can. You, the father and the baby can enjoy your new lives together right away.