Caesarean Section is an operation to deliver the baby through an incision in the mothers abdomen. This is almost always done under a spinal or epidural anaesthetic, allowing the mother to be awake during the delivery.
Caesarean Sections are considered to be elective (i.e. planned in advance), or emergency, when a serious complication that may harm the mother or baby develops in labour or occasionally when not in labour.
Common reasons for an elective Caesarean Section include:
- A baby in persistent breech presentation (i.e. bottom presenting into the pelvis) beyond 38 weeks.
- A repeat Caesarean section as prior babies have been born by Caesarean section.
- The placenta is lying closely to or right over the cervix making vaginal delivery impossible.
- Request of the mother for a Caesarean Section due to concerns about vaginal birth. Much discussion and counselling takes place in this situation!
Reasons for an emergency Caesarean Section may include:
- Failure of the labour to progress. This is when the cervix stops dilating and the babys head fails to come down through the pelvis during the labour. The baby may be too big to pass through the birth canal.
- Concerns about the babys well-being during the labour. The baby is always monitored during labour.
- The mother has pre-eclampsia and cannot be induced safely.
- The placenta partially separates from the wall of the uterus, (placental abruption).
It is also important to be aware that the recovery from Caesarean Section is slower than that of a vaginal birth. The first couple of weeks after a Caesarean Section can be testing, especially with a new baby to care for, and this should be taken into account when decisions about an elective Caesarean Section for personal preference only are being made.