Cesarean Section: Giving Birth by C-section

What is a cesarean section?:

A cesarean section is also known as a c-section, which is sometimes also written as c/s. This type of birth is done by a surgical incision in the abdomen and uterus to allow a baby or babies to be born safely when a vaginal birth is not the safest route. The current cesarean rate in the United States is over 32%.

Why would a cesarean section be performed?:

A cesarean section might be performed for a number of reasons, including:

Talking to your practitioner before labor about why a cesarean may be necessary and taking a childbirth class can also give you more information about cesareans.

How is a cesarean section performed?:

You will normally check into the hospital either in labor or before a scheduled c-section. From there they will do blood work to ensure they have information to help you find the right medications and treatments. You will be given medications to help neutralize the acid in your stomach and you will be given an IV. You will also have part of your pubic hair shaved.

After anesthesia, you will have the surgery for the birth of your baby.

How is the recovery from a cesarean section?:

Since a c-section is a surgery, your recovery will usually be longer than that of a vaginal birth. Your incision will be sore and most women will say that walking the first few times after birth is very painful. You will be given medications to help you with the pain of recovery. Remember that walking is actually a good thing as it speeds healing. The first few weeks rest and carry nothing heavier than the baby. After the few days, you will have any remaining stitches or staples removed.

What does a cesarean section mean for future births?:

The majority of women who have a cesarean birth the one pregnancy can have a vaginal birth with subsequent babies. This conversation is one that should be had with your practitioner. It will usually depend on the reason for the first cesarean and the type of incision on your uterus.

Can I avoid a cesarean section?:

Cesareans done for true medical emergencies cannot and should not be avoided. Some practitioners will do cesareans before turning to other alternatives, including waiting. As long as the mother and baby are healthy, a conversation between you and your practitioner is usually helpful in avoiding unwanted cesareans. It is also the perfect discussion to have with your practitioner prior to labor. There are also ways to encourage a vaginal birth, namely making sure that your practitioner has a lower cesarean rate.

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