Why the mom may have to have a c-section: A woman who cannot labor for various reasons (for example, she has a serious heart condition).
A woman who has a small or contracted pelvis that wouldn’t allow the baby to push through (sometimes this is known in advance, but not always).
Serious maternal health problems where a delivery through the vaginal area would put the baby at risk (for example, the mother has herpes or AIDs).
If the mother has had a prior classical C-section in a previous birth.
Why the baby might need a c-section: Problems with the umbilical cord; for example, the cord falls into the vagina (prolapsed cord, which would lead to emergency surgery) or the cord is pinched or compressed.
Presence of a complete placenta previa (where the placenta is covering the cervix).
Fetal distress – that is, the baby shows signs of distress such as a slowing heart rate or lactic acid buildup in the baby’s bloodstream from lack of oxygen.
Fetal illness, which might include babies diagnosed prenatally with certain medical conditions, such as a heart condition or spina bifida (a hole in the spinal cord).
Multiple babies – that is, twins, triplets, or more.
Cesarean sections are sometimes performed for other than maternal or fetal well-being, such as avoidance of patient pain, patient or provider convenience, provider legal concerns or provider financial incentives.
A wound infection can occur five to 10 percent of the time.
There’s a very small risk of blood clots or a hole in the bladder.
There are potential problems for subsequent pregnancies. For example, placenta previa is more common in women who have had a prior C-section.
There’s a chance of scar tissue build up on the uterus after a Cesarean birth. This isn’t typically a problem with women who have one or two C-sections, but if you’re planning on having a large family, the scare tissue can build up and, in severe cases, the mother may have to have her uterus removed after giving birth.
You will get an IV
Typically, a single spinal injection is delivered by the anesthesiologist to numb the area from midchest downward. It won’t hurt, but you’ll feel something.
You will be lying on your back with your arms extended out to the side so your body looks like a cross. Monitors are attached to your wrists and a blue sheet is put up mid-chest level so you can’t see what is happening during the surgery.
You may be hit with a wave of nausea and/or your body may start to shake and become cold. This is a result of low blood pressure–a very common side effect of anesthesia.
After the spinal, the nurse will insert a catheter because you won’t be able to walk until the next morning.
C-section babies sometimes need a little help getting the fluid out of their airway and they can appear bluer in color than other newborns. Don’t worry, their color will return to normal in a few minutes.
You will be sent to a recovery room for about an hour to monitor your progress and possibly have your wound redressed. Your baby will be with you the whole time and skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are encouraged.
During this time shivering and shaking is very common. The IV fluids are colder than body temperature so they can make you feel cold. Also, small pieces of amniotic fluid can seep into the blood stream during surgery and cause shivering or shaking.
Your catheter will be removed: The morning after surgery
You can walk around and take a shower: 24 hours after surgery
You’ll be able to walk comfortably: two weeks after surgery
You can stop taking pain medication: one to two weeks after surgery
You’ll be able to resume cardiovascular exercise and strength training: six weeks post surgery. (These are all estimates because women vary)
To boost your rate of recovery and lower the risk of infection, it’s important to get up and move as soon as possible after your surgery. Too much bed rest can lead to blood clots.
A cesarean section poses documented medical risks to the mother’s health, including infections, hemorrhage, transfusion, injury to other organs, anesthesia complications, psychological complications, and a maternal mortality two to four times greater than that for a vaginal birth.