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C-section


Alternative Names:

Abdominal delivery; Abdominal birth; Cesarean birth

Risks:

A C-section is a safe procedure. The rate of serious complications is very 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
  • Higher average blood loss. Most of the time, a transfusion is not needed, but risk is higher.

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).

After the Procedure:

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 very often successful. However, there is a small risk of uterine rupture, which can harm the mother and the baby. Discuss the benefits and risks of VBAC with your health care provider.

Outlook (Prognosis):

The average hospital stay after C-section is 2 to 3 days. Recovery takes longer than it would from a vaginal birth. You should walk around after the C-section to speed recovery. Pain medicines taken by mouth can help ease discomfort.

References:

Berghella V, Landon MB. Cesarean delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, et al, eds. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 20.

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: 7/28/2014
Reviewed By: Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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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