C-section is a surgical procedure. As a delivery method, it is more risky for the health of the mother and the baby than natural delivery. This is why many healthcare providers leave it as the last resort. Nevertheless, women at risk for possible pregnancy complications are often advised to go for a planned Cesarean section. In this article, we will share with you a few tips on how to prepare for it. Even if you plan natural delivery, these tips may be helpful in case you end up with an emergency C-section.
Health care providers may advise planned Cesarean section if the baby is in breech or transverse position, has certain birth defects or is very large. Mother’s certain medical conditions such as problems with the placenta, HIV or active genital herpes, certain multiple pregnancies, or previous C-section may also require C-section.
What are the Risks of my Planned Cesarean Section?
Some women perceive planned Cesarean section as a less painful, more predictable and more comfortable procedure. They may opt for C-section for no medical reasons. However, Caesarean section is major surgery that carries significant medical risks:
- Post-partum recovery usually takes longer and wound infections, including infection of the membrane lining the uterus, are more common compared to vaginal delivery;
- C-section may lead to increased bleeding. In rare cases blood clots may develop inside a vein;
- In rare cases, women having C-section may have a reaction to anesthesia. The reaction includes a severe headache in the upright position in the first days after delivery;
- Risks for babies include surgical injuries such as accidental nicks to the baby’s skin and breathing problems. Babies born with C-section are at higher risk of developing transient tachypnea – abnormally fast breathing – in the first few days;
- C-section increases the risk of having complications during subsequent pregnancies.
Taking these risks into consideration, discuss with your doctor the feasibility of a planned Cesarean section, its advantages, and disadvantages for your health and the health of your baby.
What Should I Expect before and After C-Section?
Your health care provider may suggest talking to an anesthesiologist to understand if you have any medical conditions that can increase the risk of side effects of the anesthesia. Special blood tests may be performed to collect information about your blood type and hemoglobin. In the case of the planned Cesarean section, tests are performing to see if your baby’s lungs are mature enough.
There are different approaches to hygiene procedures that women need to arrange themselves before the C-section. You may be asked to bath with antiseptic soap to reduce the risk of infection without shaving your pubic hair. The hospital staff will remove it just before the surgery.
At the hospital, the staff will clean your abdomen and collect your urine by placing a tube into your bladder. Most probably, the spinal block will be applied as the most common C-section anesthesia. Spinal block is regional anesthesia that will allow you to hear and see the baby right after delivery.
The doctor will make two types of incision during the surgery – abdominal and uterine.
The abdominal incision is usually done horizontally near the pubic hairline. After the baby is removed from your uterus, the incisions will be closed with stitches.
Plan staying at the hospital for about three days. Start walking as soon as possible after C-section to avoid constipation and blood clots. There is a misconception that breastfeeding is difficult after C-section. In fact, you can start breastfeeding as soon as you feel ready for it. Many women breastfeed right after the delivery in the surgery room. However, in the first few days, you will need some special arrangements and support of the hospital staff and your family to find the best position to hold and feed your baby.
After coming home rest as much as possible.
Support your abdomen with pillows when breastfeeding, take many fluids to replace the fluid lost during delivery and to prevent constipation. Do not forget to take your medications. Most pain medications prescribed after C-section are compatible with breastfeeding. Avoid lifting items heavier than your baby from a squatting position. Avoid sex during the first four to six weeks after surgery, and have a medical checkup with your OBYGIN at around four weeks after the delivery.
It is very important to be attentive to own health after C-section. Fever higher than 100.4 F (38 C), severe pain in the abdomen, or redness, swelling and discharge at your incision may indicate infection. Communicate to your health care provider your concerns regarding possible infection or heavy or prolonged bleeding that continues beyond eight weeks after delivery.
Did you have a C-section? What was your experience in getting prepared for it and overcoming it after the delivery?