Most labors result in vaginal delivery, however, there are circumstances beyond our control that arise in pregnancy and labor that require an alternative route to delivery. A cesarean delivery is the birth of a fetus through a cut (incision) made by a surgeon in the belly (abdomen) and womb (uterus). Cesarean delivery is also known as C-Section.
There are two kinds of cesarean deliveries. Most commonly, a horizontal incision is made on the uterus. In other instances, it is necessary to make a vertical incision to deliver the baby safely. The incision on the abdomen does not always indicate the type of incision needed for the uterus.
Common reasons for having a cesarean delivery include:
- You have had a previous c-section
- The baby is breech (buttocks or feet first) or transverse (sideways) position
- You are pregnant with multiples
- Failure to progress in labor (i.e. the cervix does not dilate or open, or the baby’s head does not come down
- Concern for the mother or fetus in labor
- Fetal Intolerance – some babies do not tolerate labor and cannot maintain normal heart rates during contractions
- Placenta Previa – the placenta is covering the cervix
- Active Herpes infection
- The baby is large
What Happens in a C-Section
An IV is placed in your arm and the pubic hair is shaved a little to prevent infection at the incision site. You will be given an antacid medicine to drink to prevent stomach acid from going into your lungs if you have to vomit. A Foley catheter is placed in the bladder. The anesthesiologist will place an epidural unless it cannot be done safely. Very rarely, women have to be put to sleep for the c-section. After you have received anesthesia, an incision is made in the lower abdomen and then in your uterus to remove the baby. You are usually awake with an epidural and can see the baby right away. After the c-section is complete, you will be moved to the recovery room. Breastfeeding, if desired, can still happen immediately after the surgery is complete.
If a c-section is needed for delivery, be prepared to stay in the hospital for a few days after delivery. The Foley catheter is usually removed within 12-24 hours after delivery. You will be given pain medications that are safe in breastfeeding to use as long as needed.