C-Sections: Reasons Why They Are Performed


Cesarean deliveries are considered safer these days than they used to be, and doctors are increasingly performing them specifically in cases of pregnancy complications where a vaginal delivery is not possible owing to the risks involved. A cesarean delivery or C-section, as it is usually called, refers to a special surgical procedure where the infant is birthed through a cut made in the abdomen or uterus. – C-Sections

The choice to deliver the baby through a c-section is often made in advance based on medical advice and consent of the mother. You might need a cesarean section if you experience complications during pregnancy, or if you have already had a cesarean and now refuse to consider vaginal birth. In most cases, the necessity for a first-time C-section, however, isn’t realized until labor has begun. 

That said, c-sections, too, pose numerous risks for the mother as well as the baby. 

If you are considering a c-section, it can help to know what to expect from a cesarean delivery—both during and after the procedure.

How does a planned c-section work?

Despite being common and generally safe nowadays, cesarean deliveries still carry more risks as compared to a vaginal delivery. It is, in light of these risks specifically, preferable for women to give birth vaginally. However, in cases where the baby remains face up and does not turn as the due date approaches, the doctors may decide to perform a cesarean section instead. 

Regardless of the reason, however, your choice for a delivery should always be guided by safety considerations for both yours as well as the child’s. 

Safety is also sometimes compromised due to the medical staff’s negligence in observing the proper protocols of birth delivery procedures. Negligence in birthing procedures often lead to birthing complications, or birth injuries in the babies born. The families suffering the ramifications of such malpractice injustices can seek legal aid birth injury claim against the medical staff or facility. 

On this note, let’s now take a detailed look at what reasons make performing a C-section the right option: 

Reasons why c-sections are performed

In advance of the due date, your doctor might schedule a cesarean delivery. An emergency may also necessitate one during labor. Nonmedical reasons, such as the mother’s preference, can also be the basis for cesarean delivery, though this practice is not recommended.

Cesarean delivery is typically performed for one of the following medical reasons:

Unusual positioning

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The baby should be positioned headfirst near the birth canal in order to have a successful vaginal birth. However, sometimes babies can go the other way. In a breech birth, the baby’s feet or back side may face the birth canal, while a transverse birth involves the baby’s shoulder or sides facing the birth canal. In these cases, cesarean delivery may be the safest option, especially when multiple births are expected. 

An extended period of labor

CDC data indicates that prolonged labor – also referred to as “failure to progress” or “stalled labor” – is the cause for nearly one-third of cesareans performed. A prolonged labor lasts for more than 20 hours. For mothers who have previously given birth before, this time is 14 hours or more.

Reasons for a prolonged labor are: giving birth to a large baby, cervical thinning at a slow pace, and birthing multiple babies. A cesarean delivery is the often-recommended procedure in such cases. 

Chronic illnesses

A high blood pressure, heart disease, or gestational diabetes, also form a cluster of medical reasons why a cesarean is preferred, since these conditions can create significant difficulties in vaginal deliveries. 

A cesarean will also be recommended if the mother has genital herpes, HIV, or any other condition that could affect the baby’s health through a vaginal delivery.

Problems with Placenta

If the low-lying placenta covers the cervix partially or completely (placenta previa), the doctor will opt for a cesarean section. A cesarean section is also needed if the placenta separates from the uterine lining, resulting in the baby losing oxygen (placenta abruption). 

The placenta previa affects nearly one in every 200 pregnant women, claims the American Pregnancy Association. Approximately 1% of pregnancies end in placental abruption.

In case of multiple babies

There are different risks associated with carrying multiple babies in the womb. One of which is the risk of a prolonged labor, which can cause excessive distress in the mother. The babies, too, are at risk because of the impossibility of all of them perfectly aligning, head-first, with the vaginal canal. Either way, an elective cesarean is typically the safest delivery method in case of twins, triplets, quadruplets, or even quintuplets.

Prolapsed cord- C-Sections

A prolapse of the umbilical cord occurs when it passes through the cervix prior to the child’s birth. If this happens, blood flow to the baby is restricted, putting the baby’s health at critical risk. The condition of cord prolapse requires a cesarean birth, even though it can be rare.

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Stress in the womb

A baby’s heart rate might become irregular during labor. There might come a time when your doctor will have to decide on performing a cesarean delivery.

The mother’s weight

Obesity often exists in combination with other health complications, like diabetes. An obese woman may require a cesarean since the risks of a vaginal delivery stack up higher than those involved in a c-section. Obesity is also a cause for prolonged labor. 

The disproportion between the skull and pelvis (CPD)

CPD occurs when a woman’s pelvis is too small to deliver a baby vaginally, or if her baby‘s head is too big for the birth canal. Both these situations make it impossible for the baby to pass safely through the vagina.

C-Sections: The risks involved

Nowadays, c-sections are safer for both the mother and the baby. However, there are still some risks associated with the surgery that you need to be aware of:

  • Bleeding (though uncommon, might require transfusion if occurs)
  • Infections (antibiotics can help with these)
  • An injury to the bowels or bladder
  • Allergies to medicines
  • Thrombosis
  • Death (extremely rare)
  • Injury to the baby 

During delivery, some of the localized anesthetics used can reach the baby. But the anesthesia used locally is far less sedative than the one used generally. 

C-section babies sometimes experience breathing problems (temporary tachypnea), which occurs because the newborn’s lungs don’t get to clear out the fluids. However, this is a minor complication and may get better on its own in a few days. 

Delivering through a cesarean section, usually to avoid the risks involved in a normal delivery, has considerably more benefits than risks. In certain cases, a cesarean delivery leads to saving of the mother’s and the child’s life.

Bottom Line

Given the unpredictable nature of birth and pregnancy, moms-to-be should be prepared for a cesarean delivery. As beautiful and miraculous as giving birth is, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected. You should always consider your doctor’s advice and choose the safest course possible.

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