The most frequent and major type of surgery that doctors perform in the operating room isn’t what you might think. It’s not even something that sends most people running. Instead, it’s a source of joy that literally brings life into the world: a C-section.
While C-sections are relatively safe, there are several things every mother and father should know.
What to Expect
Cesarean sections can be performed as a result of a mother’s choice or because of complications associated with pregnancy or delivery.
The procedure is straightforward. Doctors provide an anesthesia so the mother does not feel pain. At most, she may feel slight pressure during the operation. During the preparation stage, the mother will also drink Bicitra, which neutralizes the stomach’s acids.
Patients will be awake during the operation, but this sounds much more frightening than it seems. Doctors pull a curtain across the mother’s midsection. Coupled with the anesthesia, it may feel surprisingly uneventful.
After doctors make an incision in the mother’s abdomen, the infant is usually delivered within a few minutes to half an hour. After, doctors stitch up the mother’s incision.
And then you’re a parent!
The surgery seems intimidating, but C-sections are relatively safe. One study found only 1.5% of women experience severe complications during or after surgery.
However, the WHO still recommends vaginal childbirth unless issues arise that call for a C-section, as the surgery does carry more risks than traditional birthing methods. Further, age and previous C-sections play a factor: women over 35 are much more likely to experience complications, as are women who have had previous cesareans.
Complications for the mother can include hemorrhaging, infection and blood clots.
Risks to the child are less severe and are typically limited to breathing issues that resolve within a few days and nicks from surgical equipment. In severe cases, common birth injuries associated with C-sections include fractures, spinal injuries and lacerations.
Another consideration is colonization, which occurs during vaginal birth when bacteria in a mother’s placenta transfers to the child, giving the infant gut flora. The mother’s microbes may encourage long-term health, but further research needs to be done on the topic.
Unfortunately, C-sections do not transfer this bacteria.
Mothers who have C-sections often worry that they didn’t “actually” give birth because they didn’t experience the pain associated with traditional methods. However, mothers who have C-sections experience longer and sometimes more painful recoveries than those who gave birth vaginally. Where a mother who gave birth vaginally recovers in a few weeks, a mother who experienced a C-section may take a few months to heal.
On the plus side, although C-sections leave scars, the operation does leave the vagina intact, which is a concern for most pregnant women.
If you’re considering a C-section, know the risks are minimal, but they do exist. However, don’t forget that-regardless of the method used-you’re a part of bringing your own little miracle into the world.