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A Caesarean Section is a surgical procedure in which an opening is made on the mother’s abdomen and womb and the baby is delivered through it.
Depending on your circumstances, a Caesarean Section may be planned in advance as an elective procedure if normal vaginal birth is unsafe for mother and/or baby. It may also be performed as an emergency procedure if problems develop in pregnancy or during labour and urgent delivery is required for the safety of mother and/or baby.
Some reasons why a Caesarean Section may be performed include having a previous Caesarean Section, malpresentation of the baby, placenta praevia in which the placenta is partially or totally covers the internal opening of the mother’s cervix(neck of the womb), multiple pregnancy, maternal medical conditions, failure to progress in labour, non-reassuring fetal status during labour etc.
A horizontal line will be made across your lower abdomen just below the pubic hair line to reach your womb. Depending on circumstances, a vertical cut may be necessary in a small number of cases. Another cut will be made onto the uterus(womb) and the baby will be delivered through this opening. In some cases, a forceps or a vacuum may be used to assist in the delivery of the baby.
Although a Caesarean Section is considered safe, as with all surgeries, complications can sometimes occur even with the best effort of the surgical and nursing teams. Some of these are inherent in any operative procedure. If complications do occur, recovery may take a longer period of time and further procedures may be necessary.
Risk of complications may be higher if the surgery is an emergency and with increasing number of previous caesarean sections.
Frequent (more than 1 in 100 cases) complications include pain and numbness over the wound site, abdominal discomfort, wound complications, infection, bleeding, adhesions(scar tissue developing causing tissues and organs to stick together) etc.
Serious potential complications to the mother include massive bleeding requiring blood transfusion and if life-threatening the removal of the womb, injury of surrounding organs/structures such as the bladder, ureters or intestines, formation of clots in the deep veins etc.
Potential complications to the baby can include breathing difficulties at birth and injury to baby.
In future pregnancies, risks include needing a repeat Caesarean Section, uterine rupture(tearing of the scar of the womb), placenta complications, Caesarean scar ectopic etc.