A cesarean delivery — also known as a C-section or cesarean section — is the surgical delivery of a baby. It includes one incision in the mother’s abdomen and another in the uterus.
Cesarean deliveries are generally avoided before 39 weeks of pregnancy so the child could develop properly in the womb. Still sometimes, due to unavoidable complications a cesarean delivery need to be performed prior to 39 weeks.
The 2 types of cuts that can be used when you have a caesarean section includes –
• A lower segment incision – will be used wherever possible. This is a horizontal (across) cut through the abdomen (stomach) and a horizontal cut through the lower part of the uterus, sometimes known as a ‘bikini line’ incision. These cuts heal better, are less visible and are less likely to cause problems in future pregnancies.
• A classical incision – refers to a vertical cut on the uterus. The cut on the abdomen may be horizontal or vertical. This type of incision is usually only used for extreme emergencies or in specific situations, such as if the placenta is lying very low, if your baby is lying sideways or if your baby is very small. It can increase the chance of having problems in later pregnancies and births.
Causes for cesarean section –
A cesarean delivery is typically performed when complications from pregnancy make traditional vaginal birth difficult, or life risk situation for the mother or child arises.
Sometimes cesarean deliveries are planned early in the pregnancy, but they’re most often executed when complications arise during labor.
Reasons for a cesarean delivery include –
• baby has developmental problematic conditions
• baby’s head is too big for the birth canal
• the baby is coming out feet first (breech birth)
• early pregnancy complications
• mother’s health problems, such as high blood pressure or unstable heart disease
• mother has active genital herpes that could be transmitted to the baby
• previous cesarean delivery
• problems with the placenta, such as placental abruption or placenta previa
• problems with the umbilical cord
• reduced oxygen supply to the baby
• stalled or prolonged labor
• the baby is coming out shoulder first (transverse labor)
Risks & Complications –
Some of the more common risks and complications includes –
• more than-average blood loss
• blood clots in the legs
• infection in the lining of the uterus
• a longer stay in hospital (3 to 5 days, or 72 to 120 hours, on average)
• pain around the wound (you will be given pain relief)
• problems with future attempts at vaginal birth
• a need for a caesarean section for future births
• complications from the anaesthetic.
Ways to recover from cesarean section –
Tips to help with recovery from cesarean section in the first 6 weeks include –
• Get as much rest as you can because rest makes big difference in your recovery.
• Ask family or friends to help or organise paid help if you can afford it.
• Do not lift any weight that is heavier than your baby. Be careful of your back when you lift anything that causes you pain.
• Go for a gentle walk every day. This can have physical and emotional health benefits.
• Do your pelvic floor exercises. Regardless of the type of birth you have had, your lower abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles will have weakened after pregnancy, and need strengthening. Your hospital physiotherapist can teach you how to do pelvic floor exercises.
• Eat a healthy, high-fibre diet and drink plenty of water. Do this every day to avoid constipation.
• Use warmth on your wound. Warmth can have a soothing effect. Try a wheat bag or hot water bottle.
• In your doctor’s supervision, take pain-relieving medication regularly to begin with to prevent pain.
• Keep your wound clean and dry. Look for signs of infection (such as redness, pain, swelling of the wound or bad-smelling discharge). If any problem you notice, ask to your doctor or midwife.
• While some women like loose clothing, many prefer firm, high-waisted compression underwear or control briefs to offer abdominal support. This can reduce pain and be worn for comfort for the first 6 weeks.
• Avoid sex until you feel comfortable. It is quite normal to for it to take weeks, even months, before you are ready to have sex.
• Numbness or itching around the scar is normal. This can last a long time for some women.
• Join a new mothers’ group. Talking with other mums who have had a similar experience to you can be very helpful.
• Avoid driving a car until your wound has healed (usually about 6 weeks).
Looking after a new baby is hard for all women, but it can be harder when you are recovering from a caesarean. Be kind to yourself. It may take a few weeks or even longer to recover, particularly if you have had complications.
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