Everything you need to know about caesarean section

What is a cesarean section?

A cesarean section is a surgical procedure that is performed in some cases when the baby cannot, for various reasons, be born vaginally. This operation can be scheduled or urgent and involves certain risks that you should know.

When is a C-section performed?

A cesarean section is a surgical intervention, so it should never be done on a whim or by the mother’s simple preference, but  this decision must be made for health reasons that justify it since it does not cease to have more risks than a birth normal vaginal

Therefore, a cesarean section should only be used for the baby to be born when one of these reasons occurs:

  • Abnormalities in the development of the fetus that prevent vaginal delivery, such as hydrocephalus or spina bifida.
  • Abnormal heart rhythm pattern in the fetus during labor, that is, suffering from bradycardia (lowering of the rhythm) or tachycardia (high heart rate).
  • Abnormal position of the fetus that prevents vaginal delivery, such as transverse (cross) or buttocks.
  • Multiple births (although it is not always mandatory to perform a C-section).
  • Severe maternal disease (toxemia, preeclampsia, heart disease …).
  • Active genital herpes infection.
  • HIV maternal infection.
  • Previous uterine surgery that makes labor difficult.
  • If the size of the baby is larger than the bone of the maternal pelvis (macrosomia).
  • When there are deformations or abnormalities in the cervix, vulva or vagina, which makes it difficult for the baby to pass outside.
  • Previous placenta.
  • If the delivery is very long and the baby loses fetal well-being.

Therefore, depending on the reason,  the cesarean section can be scheduled  (it is already known that vaginal delivery is impossible and a date is scheduled to perform the intervention and remove it)  or urgently (the decision is made during delivery when complications occur).

How is the cesarean section performed?

The woman is taken to the operating room,  anesthesia is applied (usually with epidural anesthesia is sufficient) and the abdominal area is sanitized with special antiseptics. The body is covered with specially sterilized fabrics, one of which covers your vision like a curtain to prevent you from seeing the medical team working.

Then,  the surgeon makes a horizontal incision on the skin, just above the pubic bone, and the abdominal muscles are pushed aside. Then it cuts up to five different tissues (skin, subcutaneous fat, muscular aponeurosis, and parietal peritoneum) until it reaches the uterus, where it makes a similar incision to extract the baby through it.

The umbilical cord is cut and then the placenta and ovular membranes are removed. If all is well and there are no remains, all the layers of tissue that have been previously cut are sewn.

In total, the process can take about 45 minutes. The mother is taken to the resuscitation room for a period of time that can vary between 20 minutes and several hours depending on the operation and, if all goes well, she is taken to her room so she can be with her baby.

Risks of cesarean section

As we said, the cesarean section is still an operation, which entails a series of risks and complications, although, currently, the most serious are very rare:

  • Drug reactions
  • Respiratory problems derived from anesthesia
  • Back or headache due to anesthesia
  • Vaginal bleeding or bleeding
  • Uterine or bladder infection
  • Urinary tract injury
  • Baby injuries

However, if it is done correctly and under appropriate conditions, it is normal for there to be no problem after the intervention, other than the discomfort arising from the incision.

Recovery after a C-section

In general, recovery from a cesarean section is slower than a vaginal birth, so the woman usually stays in the hospital for 3 to 5 days instead of 48 hours. Despite that, it is important that you start walking before 24 hours have passed so you can help eliminate anesthesia and avoid problems such as thrombi.

So, as soon as they can, they will remove the probe and the endovenous catheter and let you get up and take small walks. They will also start giving you water and food after a few hours of the intervention.

For pain, it is usual to take analgesics by mouth the first few days and orally after 48 hours. It is normal for you to get up and sit down because of the scar, but with care and helps you can do it.

It is normal for you to have very swollen ankles because of anesthesia, so you should try to walk as much as possible, lie down with your legs elevated and exercise with your ankles to promote circulation.

Once at home, do not take the weight, do not get tired and avoid the stairs until you stop feeling pain in the scar.

As for this, the incision is usually closed with internal points, so you will hardly have to take care of it. Just be aware that there are no signs of infection such as pus, redness or fever. In about two weeks you will feel better and you can resume your routines with your baby. 

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