Cesarean Birth

In a cesarean birth (C-section), the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen. In the United States, some estimates suggest almost half of all births are delivered by C-section.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Excessive bleeding, redness, swelling, increasing pain, or discharge from the incision site
    • Nausea and/or vomiting that you cannot control with the medicines you were given after surgery
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
    • Swelling and/or pain in one or both legs
    • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
    • Lightheadedness faintness
    • Heavy vaginal bleeding
    • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    In a cesarean birth (C-section), the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen. In the United States, some estimates suggest almost half of all births are delivered by C-section.

    Cesarean Delivery
    Cesarean Delivery
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  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    The following situations may require a C-section:

    • Large baby
    • Pregnancy with twins or more
    • Baby is not in a head-down position

    • Maternal medical conditions, for example,
      diabetes,
      high blood pressure,
      active
      herpes
      infection, or HIV infection

    • Problem with the
      position of the placenta
    • Failure of labor to progress
    • Baby shows signs of distress, such as an abnormal heart rate during labor
    • Previous cesarean birth
    • Fetal problems

  • Possible Complications

    Cesarean birth is a surgery. There are some risks involved. The estimated risk of a woman dying after a cesarean birth is extremely small. The risk of death after a vaginal birth is even smaller. Your doctor will review potential problems like:

    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Decreased bowel function
    • Damage to other organs in the abdomen
    • Longer hospital stay and recovery time
    • Bad reactions to anesthesia

    • Risk of additional surgeries, including
      hysterectomy, bladder repair, or repeat C-sections with future pregnancies

    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Prior cesarean section
    • Prior surgery of the uterus
    • Abnormal placenta
    • Smoking

    Cesarean birth also has risks for babies. Babies born prematurely have more risks. The risk of death for premature babies delivered by elective C-section is very small. The risk of death for premature babies born vaginally is even smaller.