When you’re ready to have your baby, will you have to deliver via cesarean section? It’s hard to know. Though many women are certain ahead of time that they’ll have a C-section for different reasons, you may plan to have a vaginal birth only to find that your plan has to change.
During labor or delivery, your doctor might determine that you need to have a C-section right away. This can be a sudden change if your health or your baby’s health takes a turn for the worse and it’s too risky for you to have a vaginal birth.
Even if you don’t think that you’ll have a C-section, it’s smart to learn what one involves, just in case you need to have one.C-sections are safe for mothers and babies. But it is major surgery, so you shouldn’t take it lightly.
If you know in advance that your baby will be born via C-section, you’ll know the date and likely won’t even go into labor. Before your procedure, you’ll get an IV so that you can receive medicine and fluids. You’ll also have a catheter (a thin tube) put into place to keep your bladder empty during the surgery.
Most women who have planned C-sections receive local anaesthesia -- either an epidural or a spinal block. This will numb you from the waist down, so you won’t feel any pain. This type of anaesthesia lets you still be awake and aware of what’s going on. It’s possible your doctor may offer you general anaesthesia, which will put you to sleep, but it’s unlikely for most planned C-sections.
Your doctor will place a screen across your waist, so you won’t be able to see the surgery as it happens. He’ll make an incision in your abdomen, then another one in your uterus. You won’t feel anything because of the anaesthesia.
What is a cesarean delivery?
A cesarean delivery — also known as a C-section or cesarean section — is the surgical delivery of a baby. It involves one incision in the mother’s abdomen and another in the uterus.
Cesarean deliveries are generally avoided before 39 weeks of pregnancy so the child has proper time to develop in the womb. Sometimes, however, complications arise and a cesarean delivery must be performed prior to 39 weeks.
Why a cesarean delivery is done
A cesarean delivery is typically performed when complications from pregnancy make traditional vaginal birth difficult, or put the mother or child at risk. Sometimes cesarean deliveries are planned early in the pregnancy, but they’re most often performed when complications arise during labor.
Reasons for a cesarean delivery include:
The risks of a cesarean delivery
A cesarean delivery is becoming a very common surgery worldwide but it’s still a major surgery that carries risks for both mother and child. Natural childbirth remains the preferred method for the lowest risk of complications.
The risks of a cesarean delivery include:
You and your doctor will discuss your birthing options before your due date. Your doctor will also be able to determine if you or your baby are showing any signs of complications that would require a cesarean delivery.
How to prepare for a cesarean delivery
If you and your doctor decide that a cesarean delivery is the best option for delivery, your doctor will give you complete instructions about what you can do to lower your risk of complications and have a successful cesarean delivery.
As with any pregnancy, prenatal appointments will involve many checkups. This will include blood tests and other examinations to determine your health for the possibility of a cesarean delivery.
Your doctor will make sure to record your blood type in case you need a blood transfusion during the surgery. Blood transfusions are rarely needed during a cesarean delivery, but your doctor will be prepared for any complications.
Even if you aren’t planning to have a cesarean delivery, you should always prepare for the unexpected. At prenatal appointments with your doctor, discuss your risk factors for a cesarean delivery and what you can do to lower them.
Make sure all of your questions are answered, and that you understand what could happen if you need to have an emergency cesarean delivery before your due date.
Because a cesarean delivery takes additional time to recover from than normal birth, arranging to have an extra set of hands around the house will be helpful. Not only will you be recovering from surgery, but your new baby will need some attention as well.
How a cesarean delivery is performed
Plan to stay in the hospital for three to four days while you recover from your surgery.
Before the surgery, your abdomen will be cleaned and you’ll be prepared for receiving intravenous (IV) fluids into your arm. This allows doctors to administer fluids and any type of medications you may need. You will also have a catheter put in to keep your bladder empty during the surgery.
There are three types of anaesthesia offered to delivering mothers:
When you have been properly medicated and numbed, your doctor will make an incision just above the pubic hairline. This is typically horizontal across the pelvis. In emergency situations, the incision may be vertical.
Once the incision into your abdomen has been made and the uterus is exposed, your doctor will make an incision into the uterus. This area will be covered during the procedure so you won’t be able to see the procedure.
Your new baby will be removed from your uterus after the second incision is made.
Doctor will first to your baby by clearing their nose and mouth of fluids and clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. Your baby will then be given to paediatrician and hospital staff and they will make sure your baby is breathing normally and prepare your baby to be put into your arms.
If you’re sure you do not want any more children, and have signed the consent, the doctor can tie your tubes (a tubal ligation) at the same time.
Your doctor will repair your uterus with dissolving stitches and close your abdominal incision with sutures.
Following up after a cesarean delivery
After your cesarean delivery, you and your newborn will stay in the hospital for about three days. Immediately after surgery, you will remain on an IV. This allows for adjusted levels of painkillers to be delivered into your bloodstream while the anaesthesia wears off.
Your doctor will encourage you to get up and walk around. This can help prevent blood clots and constipation. A nurse or doctor can teach you how to position your child for breastfeeding so there’s no additional pain from the cesarean delivery incision area.
Your doctor will give you recommendations for home care after the surgery, but you should generally expect to:
Call your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
Cord blood (short for umbilical cord blood) is the blood that remains in the umbilical cord and placenta post-delivery. At or near term, there is a maternal–fetal transfer of cells to boost the immune systems of both the mother and baby in preparation for labor. This makes cord blood at the time of delivery a rich source of stem cells and other cells of the immune system. Cord blood banking is the process of collecting the cord blood and extracting and cryogenically freezing its stem cells and other cells of the immune system for potential future medical use.
As cord blood is inter-related to cord blood banking, it is often a catch-all term used for the various cells that are stored. It may be surprising for some parents to learn that stored cord blood contains little of what people think of as "blood," as the red blood cells (RBCs) can actually be detrimental to a cord blood treatment.
In Europe and other parts of the world, cord blood banking is more often referred to as stem cell banking. As banking cord blood is designed more to collect the blood-forming stem cells and not the actual blood cells themselves, this term may be more appropriate.
Luckily for expectant parents, cord blood can be easily collected at the baby’s birth via the umbilical cord with no harm to the mother or baby. This is why pregnancy is a great time to plan to collect and bank a baby's cord blood.
Cord blood in disease treatment
Cord blood is currently approved to treat nearly 80 diseases of the blood and immune system
How does cord blood banking work
While banking cord blood is a new experience for many parents, it is a simple one. After all, most mothers are worried about how the delivery will go and don’t want to also be worried about the details of collecting, processing and cryo-preserving their babies’s cord blood. Thankfully, the healthcare provider and the cord blood bank do most of the work. Here are the steps found in cord blood banking: