It might seem easier. You pick the date, receive your anesthesia and a few moments later, with minimal pain, you have your newborn baby. And while that might sound like the way to go, scheduling a Cesarean, or c-section, delivery when it is not medically necessary is not something to be considered lightly.
Women who have vaginal deliveries usually are discharged from the hospital earlier and recover faster. Vaginal delivery is also associated with fewer risks. A C-section is considered major surgery and comes with risks that include bleeding, infection, bladder or bowel injury, reactions to medications associated with surgery, and possible blood clots.
Scheduling a C-section
Scheduling a C-section that is not medically necessary could also be harmful to your baby. Due dates are an estimate. If your C-section is scheduled on or before your due date, you could give birth to what is known as a “late preterm baby,” meaning your baby wasn’t quite ready to be born. Babies born late preterm are generally healthy, but may have temporary problems such as jaundice, trouble feeding, problems breathing or difficulty maintaining body temperature.
While a vaginal birth is ideal, your provider may recommend scheduling a C-section for certain medical reasons. This will be the best choice for baby and you. Reasons a C-section is warranted (although not always necessary) include:
- Very large baby
- Giving birth to multiple babies
- Medical condition or situation that can increase risk to the baby and/or mom
- Previous C-section
- Problems with the placenta
- Baby in the wrong position, such as breech or sideways
It’s also possible you could have an unexpected C-section. The surgery will be done in an operating room, and you will receive anesthesia to keep you from feeling what happens during the surgery. This is usually done with regional anesthesia or what is called a spinal, and you are awake for the procedure. In some situations, a C-section is done with general anesthesia, so that you are completely asleep and a machine breathes for you.
The C-section process
An incision or cut is made on your lower stomach and also on the uterus. The baby is delivered through these incisions. After the baby is delivered, the placenta, or afterbirth, is removed and your provider closes the uterus and the skin.
After surgery, you will slowly get back to drinking and eating again. There is usually a catheter in your bladder until you are able to get up and move around. There are pain medications for you to stay comfortable. The average stay in the hospital after a C-section is three days.
Discuss your labor and delivery preferences in advance with your provider. It will help both of you understand each other and work together for what’s best for the health of you and your baby.