ABCs of C-Section
Whatever your birth plan might be, every pregnant woman should be emotionally prepared for the possibility that she might need to deliver by cesarean section. Whether it's planned because your baby is breech or other prenatal conditions preclude a vaginal delivery, or whether complications arise during labor, it's often the safest option for your baby's birth.
Cesarean-section deliveries have been on the rise in the U.S. since 1996, with nearly one-third of babies delivered by C-section, according to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The March of Dimes outlines some of the reasons your obstetrician might prepare you for one, including:
- If you're having a multiple birth (twins, triplets, or more).
- If your baby is in a breech (buttocks or feet first) or transverse (shoulders first) position making it too dangerous to deliver vaginally.
- If you've delivered other babies via C-section or had other uterine surgeries, your doctor will evaluate your condition to determine the viability of a vaginal birth.
- If you have a medical condition, such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure) or diabetes, that requires special treatment.
- If you have placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta detaches itself from the wall of your uterus, usually during the third trimester.
- If you have an infection, including genital herpes.
In addition to these conditions, your physician may need to make the call during labor or delivery to perform a C-section. According to a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, about one-third of the rise in C-sections since 2003 is attributed to labor's "failure to progress." This broad term refers to a range of complications including when the mother's contractions significantly slow down, her cervix stops dilating, the baby's head is too large to be delivered vaginally, or the physician detects an abnormal fetal heart beat signifying distress.
If you do need to have a C-section, you'll need to be prepared for a longer recovery and two to four days in the hospital. But you will likely be able to hold your baby right after delivery and breastfeed as soon as your physician has closed your incision.