Most of us avoid surgical procedures if at all possible because of the pain, recovery time and scarring involved. A pregnant woman may not be able to avoid this surgical procedure if her life or her unborn baby’s life is at risk. Some Caesareans are scheduled while others are decided during labor. Many women end up with a Caesarean delivery because of a medical emergency during labor or as a result of an accident or illness. If a pregnant woman had a previous Caesarean delivery she may be a candidate for a repeat Caesarean for future pregnancies.
A traditional vaginal delivery is not an option if labor has stalled due to the cervix failing to open despite contractions or the baby’s head may be too big to pass through the birth canal. If monitoring of the baby detects that not enough oxygen is being received by the baby an emergency caesarean may occur. Babies that present in an abnormal delivery position such as feet or buttocks first may also require delivery by caesarean. If the baby is lying horizontally across the uterus a caesarean will also be necessary for delivery of the baby. Some babies enter the birth canal with the top of the forehead or the face leading the way which may result in the baby not fitting through the birth canal as it descends this will also result in a caesarean birth. Women pregnant with more than one baby usually are scheduled for a Caesarean delivery because it is the safest way to delivery multiples especially once the first one is out. Pregnant women experiencing placenta problems such as placental abruption often end up having emergency Caesarean delivery of the baby. If the placenta covers the opening of the cervix which is called placenta previa, a Caesarean is usually the safest way to deliver the baby.
As with any surgery there are risks involved with the procedure including respiratory issues for the baby, fetal injury during surgery such as an accidental nick or cut to the baby’s skin. Infection to the mom can occur to the membrane of the uterus. She may also experience excessive hemorrhaging during or shortly after the surgery. Other surgical complications that may occur following a Caesarean delivery for the mom include blood clots, wound infections, adverse reactions to anesthesia that include spinal headache or allergic reactions to the anesthetic used during the surgery.
It is important that all pregnant women ask questions about the benefits and risks of Caesarean delivery. Knowing what to expect before a serious situation presents itself is preferable because there may not be much time to think during labor. Most centers, clinics and hospitals caring for pregnant women include information about Caesareans during prenatal care appointments. When designing the birth plan pregnant women should include information about emergency situations and the possibility of Caesarean birth.
If a Caesarean delivery is planned in advance the woman should make sure that extra help is available for when she returns from the hospital because a Caesarean is major surgery and she will be recovering for several weeks. She will need help with household chores including meals especially in those first few days when she will be recovering her strength and healing from the surgery.
Reasons for a Cesarean birth. American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved October 7, 2010 from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/reasonsforacesarean.html
Risks of a Cesarean procedure. American Pregnancy Association.Retrieved october 7, 2010 from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/cesareanrisks.html