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Cesarean Birth
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Cesarean Birth?

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

The following situations may require a C-section:

  • Large baby
  • Baby is not in a head down position
  • Maternal medical conditions (eg diabetes , high blood pressure , active herpes infection, HIV positive)
  • Placenta previa —The placenta (the organ that links the mother and the baby) may be blocking the birth canal.
  • Failure of labor to progress —Effective labor slows or stops before the baby is born.
  • Baby shows signs of distress, such as an abnormal heart rate during labor
  • Previous cesarean birth—In some cases, after one cesarean birth, it is best to have other babies delivered by cesarean.
  • Fetal anomalies—Fetal problems that have been diagnosed by testing during the pregnancy may require a C-section.

Possible Complications

Cesarean birth is a surgery, and there are risks involved. The estimated risk of a woman dying after a cesarean birth is less than one in 2,500. The risk of death after a vaginal birth is less than one in 10,000. Other risks include:

  • Infection—The uterus or nearby pelvic organs, such as the bladder or kidneys, can become infected.
  • Bleeding—The average loss is about twice as much with cesarean birth as with vaginal birth.
  • Decreased bowel function—The bowel sometimes slows down for several days after surgery, resulting in distention, bloating, and discomfort.
  • Damage to other organs in the abdomen
  • Longer hospital stay and recovery time—Cesarean stay is typically 4-5 days in the hospital after a cesarean delivery, and 1-3 days for a vaginal...