Cesarean Birth

(C-Section)

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

Definition

In a cesarean birth (C-section), the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen. In the United States, some estimates suggest almost half of all births are delivered by C-section.
Cesarean Delivery
Cesarean Delivery
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Reasons for Procedure

The following situations may require a C-section:

Possible Complications

Cesarean birth is a surgery. There are some risks involved. The estimated risk of a woman dying after a cesarean birth is extremely small. The risk of death after a vaginal birth is even smaller. Your doctor will review potential problems like:
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Decreased bowel function
  • Damage to other organs in the abdomen
  • Longer hospital stay and recovery time
  • Bad reactions to anesthesia
  • Risk of additional surgeries, including hysterectomy , bladder repair, or repeat C-sections with future pregnancies
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
  • Prior cesarean birth
  • Prior surgery of the uterus
  • Abnormal placenta
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
C-sections also have risks for babies. Babies born prematurely have more risks. The risk of death for premature babies delivered by elective C-section is very small. The risk of death for premature babies born vaginally is even smaller.

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