A cesarean section, commonly called a C-section, is a surgical procedure where the baby is delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. C-sections are performed when a vaginal delivery may pose a risk to the mother or the baby. Some common reasons for a C-section include labor complications, pregnancy with multiples, a baby in the breech position, or medical concerns for a safe vaginal delivery.
Why Are Cesarean Sections Performed?
Cesarean sections are commonly performed when a vaginal delivery is considered unsafe or not in the best interest of the mother or baby. Some common reasons for performing a C-section include:
- Fetal Distress: A C-section is commonly performed if the baby shows signs of distress, such as an abnormal heart rate.
- Breech Position: When the baby is in a breech position, meaning the baby is positioned with the feet or buttocks first instead of headfirst, a C-section may be recommended to reduce any risks that may occur with a vaginal delivery.
- Multiple Pregnancies: In the case of twins, triplets, or other multiple pregnancies, a C-section is often performed due to the complexity of delivering multiple babies safely.
- Placenta Previa: Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta covers the cervix. This condition can make vaginal delivery unsafe due to a risk of bleeding, so a C-section is often performed to avoid complications.
- Previous C-section: Many women who have had previous C-sections may choose to have another C-section with subsequent pregnancies.
- Labor Complications: Labor complications, such as failure to progress, cord prolapse, or the baby’s head being too large for the pelvis, may lead to the need for a C-section.
- Maternal Health Concerns: C-sections are often recommended to reduce any health risks to mothers who have certain health conditions like preeclampsia, diabetes, or heart disease.
A cesarean section is a major abdominal surgery. Before the procedure, you will be given an injection in the spine (epidural) to numb the lower part of the body so that you can stay awake and be pain-free.
The most common type of C-section is a low transverse cesarean section. In a low transverse cesarean section, an incision is made in the lower part of the abdomen and into the uterus to deliver the baby safely. One reason doctors use a low transverse approach is to make allow your c-section scar to be covered by underwear or a bikini bottom.
Once the baby has been removed from the uterus, the placenta is then removed and the incisions are closed with stitches.
C-section recovery time can vary from woman to woman. After the surgery, you will remain in the hospital with your baby for 2-4 days before continuing your recovery at home. Either prescription medication or over-the-counter medications may be prescribed to manage pain or discomfort.
For the first couple of weeks, you will need to rest frequently and avoid lifting objects any heavier than your baby. Gentle movement, like short walks or light housework are helpful during recovery and can also prevent blod clots from forming. You should avoid any strenuous activities for 4-8 weeks after your c-section.
It is important to keep your incision clean and dry and to monitor it for signs of infection like redness or incision drainage. A C-section takes time to heal completely, but most women start to feel better within a few weeks.
When Can You Have Sex After a C-section?
C-section recovery takes time, and it is typically recommended to avoid intercourse for at least six weeks after any delivery. This time allows your body and incision to heal properly and reduces the risk of infection as your uterus heals.
Why Is It Called a Cesarean Section?
The term “cesarean section” comes from ancient Roman times. Under Roman law, it was deemed that if a pregnant woman died and the baby was still alive, a surgical procedure was to be performed to remove the baby from the mother, saving the baby’s life. The term is likely derived from the Latin word caesus, meaning “to cut.”