Cesarean sections (c-sections) are considered a safe procedure. However, like any surgery, it does come with some risks and complications.
A c-section is the incision of the abdomen and the uterus for the baby to be delivered. These procedures can be planned, unexpected or even emergency procedures.
The recovery time after a c-section is longer than for vaginal deliveries. A full recovery after a c-section will require 4-6 weeks, compared to 1-2 weeks for a vaginal delivery.
The rates of c-section are increasing every day, regardless of medical condition, age and the pregnancy. One concern of medical workers today is the fact that women demand a c-section even if there is no need for that. This all leads to a significant increase of c-section rates in the last 10 years worldwide.
C-sections even though they have great benefits, especially when a vaginal delivery is not possible, also have risks and complications.
Complications that are more likely to occur after c-sections include:
- Heavy blood loss.
- Blood clots in legs, pelvic organs and lungs
- Infection of the c-section scar, uterus or the urinary tract.
- Injuries to other organs like the bladder, urinary tract or rectum. However, injuries of the uterus and the cervix uteri are also possible.
- Headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain due to anesthesia.
- Constipation or ileus (the intestines stop moving).
- Maternal death - very rare, mostly in emergency s-sections.
Complications to the fetus include:
- Injuries during delivery
- Breathing and lung problems if the pregnancy is not calculated right and the baby is delivered early
- Low Apgar scores, etc.
Long term risks of a c-section include:
- Placenta previa, accreta, increta or percreta. This is when the placenta is located deeper into the uterine wall or lower in the uterus near the cervix uteri during subsequent pregnancies. Sometimes the placenta can totally block the cervix uteri and the only possible delivery of the baby is by c-section). These are serious complications, and even life threatening for both mother and the fetus.
- The rupture of the incision scar in a second pregnancy or during delivery. This is a very serious complication which can lead to death both of the mother and the fetus.
- Adhesions - The c-section scar can lead to organ adhesions inside the abdomen. This means that the scar tissue formed in the abdomen makes the abdominal organs stick together or to the inside part of the abdominal wall.
Potential complications in future pregnancies after c-Section include:
- Infertility - the inability to conceive again
- Uterine scar rupture
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Emergency hysterectomy
- Congenital malformations due to a poorly functioning placenta
- Preterm birth and birth of children with low weight
Vaginal births are safer for uncomplicated pregnancies. If there are no complications during pregnancy and a vaginal birth is possible, c-sections should be avoided.
If you have once delivered a baby by c-section, you are more likely to have another c-section in future pregnancies. However, a vaginal delivery after a c-section may be possible.
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