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Caesarean Birth

A caesarean birth is one in which the baby is removed through a surgical incision in the motherís abdomen and uterus rather than emerging vaginally through the birth canal. The procedure is short, generally being only around 5 minutes from incision to delivery . This procedure is also referred to as a caesarean section . This procedure is named after the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar, who was also delivered by this technique. Having had a caesarean does not imply that you will have to continue to have caesareans in further pregnancies. In fact recent studies have shown that there was an over 80% success rate for vaginal births after a caesarean section.

The main reasons for a caesarean section include:

Caesarean birth is major surgery, and, as with other surgical procedures, risks are involved. The estimated risk of a woman dying after a caesarean birth is less than one in 2,500 compared to less than one in 10,000 for vaginal birth. Other risks include:

  • Infection of the uterus, bladder or kidneys.
  • Increased blood loss . Blood loss on the average is about twice as much with caesarean birth as with vaginal birth. However, blood transfusions are rarely needed during a caesarean
  • Decreased bowel function . The bowel sometimes slows down for several days after surgery, resulting in distension, bloating and discomfort.
  • Respiratory complications . General anaesthesia can sometimes lead to pneumonia.
  • Longer hospital stay and recovery time . Three to five days in the hospital is the common length of stay, whereas it is less than one to three days for a vaginal birth.
  • Reactions to anaesthesia . The mother's health could be endangered by unexpected responses (such as blood pressure that drops quickly) to anaesthesia or other medications during the surgery.
  • Risk of additional surgeries . For example, hysterectomy, bladder repair, etc.
  • Premature birth . If the due date was not accurately calculated, the baby could be delivered too early.
  • Breathing problems . Babies born by caesarean are more likely to develop breathing problems such as transient tachypnea .
  • Low Apgar scores . Babies born by caesarean sometimes have low Apgar scores. The low score can be an effect of the anaesthesia and caesarean birth, or the baby may have been in distress to begin with. Or perhaps the baby was not stimulated as he or she would have been by vaginal birth.
  • Foetal injury . Although rare, the surgeon can accidentally nick the baby while making the uterine incision.

For further, more detailed information on this topic, please refer to the reference source for this page.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Childbirth.org : http://www.childbirth.org/
2. Child Development , 6th Edition (1994), J. W. Santrock, Wm. C. Brown Communications, Inc.


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  http://www.hon.ch/Dossier/MotherChild/labor_complications/birth_cesarean.html Last modified: Jun 25 2002