Caesarean Birth

Caesarean section, also known as a C-section, is the delivery of a baby through an incision that your doctor makes on the abdomen and womb (uterus).

A caesarean section may be recommended by your surgeon for the following reasons:

  • Risks involved in a vaginal birth
  • Multiple births (more than one baby)
  • Large baby
  • Problems with the position of your baby
  • Problems in the cervix, resulting in failure of labour to progress
  • Problems in the umbilical cord or placenta
  • Baby shows signs of distress, such as slowed heart rate
  • You have a medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes or infections such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • You may also opt for a C-section even if a vaginal delivery is considered possible and safe in your situation.

C-section is performed under general anaesthesia or regional anaesthesia, such as a spinal or epidural block. You doctor makes an incision in your abdomen which may be vertical or horizontal (side-to-side). Underlying muscles are separated. Another similar incision is made in the wall of the uterus. Your doctor delivers your baby through these incisions. The umbilical cord is cut and clamped, and the placenta is removed. The incisions are then closed with stitches or staples.

After a C-section, you will stay for 2 to 3 days in the hospital for monitoring.

  • Your doctor will prescribe medications to keep you comfortable and relieve your pain.
  • Your blood pressure, bleeding, heart rate, and size of your uterus and firmness will be monitored regularly.
  • The anaesthesia administered for a C-section can make you feel nauseous or itchy but will gradually go away.
  • You will be allowed to sip water or suck on ice after the procedure, and allowed to eat after eight hours.
  • The surgical site may hurt when you sit up to nurse your baby.
  • Try sitting up and moving around several times a day to promote healing.
  • You can start breastfeeding as soon as you can. A different position and extra support with pillows can make you more comfortable.

After discharge from the hospital to home:

  • You may feel tired and sleepy as your body is trying to heal. Make sure to get adequate rest, eat nutritious food and increase your intake of fluids to promote healing and adequate breast milk production.
  • Avoid having sexual contact with your partner until your doctor recommends, usually about 6 weeks.
  • Inform your doctor if you experience heavy bleeding, foul odour, vaginal discharge, painful urination, severe abdominal pain or high fever during this time.

As with any surgery, C-section may involve certain risks and complications, which include infection, blood clots in your legs, lungs or pelvic organs, blood loss, bladder or bowel injury and side-effects of medicines or anaesthesia.

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