As many women discover during their pregnancy, childbirth is complicated. There’s much to discuss ahead of delivery, such as where you want to have the baby to who you want with you in the room. You’ll also have to decide how you would prefer to give birth as there are several different methods.
The most important decision is choosing between a C-section or vaginal birth, and being mentally and physically prepared for your preferred option. Many mothers-to-be find it useful to chat with a midwife and create a birth plan well ahead of going into labour. They’ll be able to recommend the safest course of action based on your personal situation and answer any questions you may have.
This article looks into the C-section procedure: what’s involved, when it’s recommended, and the benefits and risks. Understanding this will help you to make an informed childbirth arrangement.
What is a C-section?
A C-section, properly termed caesarean section, is an operation. A cut is made across the bikini line so that the baby can be lifted directly from the womb rather than entering the birth canal.
As it is a surgical procedure, caesarean sections are only available to those giving birth in the hospital.
Why are C-sections performed?
A caesarean section can be elective (pre-arranged) or decided on the day in an emergency situation. As with any major surgery, there are risks involved with having a C-section, so it should only be performed if it’s the safest course of action.
Pre-planned C-sections can be recommended if:
- You have a low-lying placenta
- You have pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure)
- You are expecting twins who share a placenta
- You are expecting more than two babies
An unplanned C-section will be pursued if traditional birth would put you or your baby in danger. Examples include:
- Your baby is in the breech position and can’t be turned
- Your baby is losing oxygen and nutrients
- Your labour isn’t progressing
- You’re losing too much blood
Your doctor and midwife must discuss the process of a C-section with you before it’s performed, otherwise, you may be entitled to make a medical negligence claim if avoidable harm is caused.
The benefits and risks
The main benefit of having a C-section is that it’s more straightforward than vaginal birth. When it’s elective, you can choose the date and time and have the whole thing over and done with in an hour. You’re also awake during the procedure which means you can see your baby immediately.
Given that a caesarean section is a major surgery, there are risks of blood loss as well as blood clots and infection following the procedure. Women who’ve had a C-section also usually have a longer recovery period than those who give birth vaginally, which means an extended hospital stay.
A rising trend for C-sections
There’s much debate about C-sections. The official World Health Organisation advice is that they should be a last resort, but caesarean sections are a rising trend in the UK and the procedure is used in around a third of deliveries. Just half of these are emergency operations, which means that increasingly women are choosing to or being recommended a C-section as the safest delivery option.
Whether you have a C-section or a traditional vaginal birth, being well-informed ahead of time will keep you feeling calm on the day. Trust in the advice of the medical professionals around you and remember that they will prioritise your health and the safety of your baby every step of the way.