Caesarean Section

A caesarean section, or C-section, is the surgical delivery of an infant through an incision in the mother's abdomen and uterus. Some caesarean sections are planned when a known medical problem would make labour dangerous for the mother or baby, while others are done when a quick delivery is needed to ensure the mother's and infant's well-being.

Situations in which a caesarean section may be used include:

  • Fetal distress.
  • Stalled labour that doesn't respond to medicines or other methods.
  • Breech delivery.
  • Placenta problems.
  • A mother's HIV or active genital herpes infection.
  • Some multiple pregnancies.
  • Umbilical cord problems that reduce blood flow to the fetus.
  • Maternal illness that makes it dangerous to undergo the stress of a vaginal birth.

The incision may be made across the bottom of the abdomen above the pubic area (transverse) or, in certain cases, in a line from the navel to the pubic area (vertical). In many cases, a woman delivering by caesarean can remain awake during the childbirth and be with her newborn soon afterward.

A caesarean section is a surgical procedure, and recovery takes longer than after a vaginal delivery. A woman recovering from a caesarean delivery requires extra help during the first week or so after delivery.

Is it an emergency?

If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be a life-threatening emergency. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately.
If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.

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