What is a Cesarian section?
Up to 20% of births are by Cesarian section; it is a surgical procedure that usually involves an incision being made just above the pubic area, in the 'bikini line'. The uterus is then also split, allowing the baby to be delivered through these openings. The uterus and abdomen are then stitched closed. Cesarian section is often performed under epidural anaesthesia, whereby an injection in the back makes the lower body go numb, but you can still be awake to see baby as soon as they are born.
Why would a Cesarian section be performed?
This procedure may be either planned (termed 'elective'), or unplanned ('emergency'). An elective Cesarian may be planned if it is felt that baby's head will be too large for routine delivery, baby is lying in a breach position (head upwards), or if you have any medical problems that may cause risks through vaginal delivery (such as high blood pressure). It may occasionally be deemed safer to have a Cesarian section if you have had one or more previous Cesarians, although vaginal delivery is still often encouraged.
An emergency Cesarian section is needed if baby is thought to be at risk during normal vaginal delivery. This may be due to factors such as placental bleeding or cord prolapse. The same operation is performed as above.
What scar will I have after Cesarian section?
The most common scar is one that runs in the bikini line, just above the pubic area. Absorbable stitches are often used and the scar usually fades to a fine pale line.
Rarely, a vertical incision may be needed for a Cesarian section, which runs from the pubic area to the belly button.
What are the risks of Cesarian section?
The risks of a Cesarian section are similar to those of most types of surgery. These include lumpy or stretched scars, bleeding that may require transfusion or return to theatre, infection, and very rarely blood clots in the calf or lungs. Whilst these risks are uncommon, it is important to realise they can be serious and potentially even life-threatening.
What happens after the Cesarian section?
You will be given painkillers after the surgery, and it is common to be walking about the next day. Most mothers leave hospital after 4 or 5 days.
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Any procedure involving skin incision can also result in unfavourable scarring, wound infection, or bleeding. This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. Whilst these risks will seem very worrysome, and indeed can be serious, it should also be borne in mind that many people have no postoperative problems whatsoever.
The information provided is for guidance only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right procedure for you. Please also read our disclaimer