Cesarean Births

A cesarean birth or c-section is a type of surgery used for having a baby. If you have a c-section, you will be given anesthesia so that you won't feel pain. Then the doctor will make an incision in your belly and remove the baby from your uterus. About 1 in 3 babies in the United States is born this way. Some women have a c-section if labor doesn't move along like it should. This can happen if:
  • Contractions (the tightening of the uterus that happens during labor) are not strong enough to get the baby out.
  • The baby is too big.
  • The mother's pelvis is too small.
  • The baby is in an odd position, such as sideways or chin-first.

If labor isn't progressing, your doctor or nurse might offer a medicine called oxytocin (Pitocin). This medicine should make your contractions stronger. If that doesn't help within a few hours, your doctor might suggest a c-section.

Although most mothers and babies do well after a c-section, there are risks. Compared with a vaginal delivery, c-sections are more likely to cause:
  • Harm to the bladder, blood vessels, intestines, and other nearby organs.
  • Infection.
  • Blood clots that can block blood vessels and cause trouble breathing.
  • Lost bonding time between mother and baby.
  • A longer time for the mother to heal after the birth.
  • Problems with the placenta and uterus in later pregnancies.
  • Trouble breathing for the newborn. This usually lasts for just a short time.
Your doctor can help you decide if the risks of surgery are worth taking for you.