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C-section


Alternative Names:

Abdominal delivery; Abdominal birth; Cesarean section

Risks:

A C-section is a safe procedure. The rate of serious complications is extremely low. However, certain risks are higher after C-section than after vaginal delivery. These include:

  • Infection of the bladder or uterus
  • Injury to the urinary tract
  • Injury to the baby

A C-section may also cause problems in future pregnancies. This includes a higher risk for:

  • Placenta previa
  • Placenta growing into the muscle of the uterus and has trouble separating after the baby is born (placenta accreta)
  • Uterine rupture

These conditions can lead to severe bleeding (hemorrhage), which may require blood transfusions or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).

All surgeries carry risks. Risks due to anesthesia may include:

  • Reactions to medications
  • Problems breathing

Risks related to surgery in general may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots in the leg or pelvic veins
  • Infection
Expectations after surgery:

Most mothers and infants do well after a c-section.

Women who have a C-section may have a vaginal delivery if another pregnancy occurs, depending on:

  • The type of C-section done
  • Why the C-section was done

Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) delivery is usually successful. However, there is a small risk of uterine rupture, which can harm the mother and the baby. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of VBAC with your health care provider.

Convalescence:

The average hospital stay after C-section is 2 - 4 days. Recovery takes longer than it would from a vaginal birth. You should walk around after the C-section to speed recovery. Pain medication taken by mouth can help ease any pain.

References:

Landon MB. Cesarean delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, ed. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2007: Chap.19.

Cunningham FG, Leveno KJ, Bloom SL, et al. Cesarean delivery and peripartum hysterectomy. In: Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al, eds. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2010:chap 25.


Review Date: 7/23/2012
Reviewed By: Melanie N. Smith, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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