The number of Caesarean sections has soared in the last years, while only 50 years ago it would have been quite unusual. Caesareans are supposed to be performed as a matter of medical emergency, when obstetric complications arise with a mom and/or her baby.
Nowadays, however, moms-to-be can elect to have a C-section in some countries – including South Africa.
Whatever your feelings on the subject, it’s important to know about the risk factors of a Caesar. There are even a few things you can do to decrease your chances of needing a C-section.
The risks of having a Caesar
- Kidney or urine infection
- Internal bleeding
- Adverse reaction to anaesthesia – you will be given either general anaesthesia, an epidural or a spinal block; with general anaesthesia, you won’t be awake during the delivery, while an epidural and spinal block numbs the lower half of the body
- Blood loss
- Injury to the bladder and abdominal organs
- Deep vein thrombosis
Why a C-section may be necessary
These factors might increase a woman’s risk of having a C-section:
- Extreme maternal illness, such as heart disease, toxaemia, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia.
- A baby being born prematurely.
- A multiple pregnancy.
- Placenta praevia – when the placenta partly or completely covers the cervical opening so that the baby can’t move outward.
- If the baby is breech.
- Foetal abnormalities – certain problems with the foetus may have been diagnosed with prenatal testing.
- A previous C-section.
- The size of the baby. If the baby is very large, it might not be able to pass safely through the mother’s pelvis.
- Failure of labour to progress. Labour might sometimes stop before the baby is born, and if the medication doesn’t work to help start it up again, A C-section will have to be performed.
Ways to help prevent a C-section
- Follow a good eating plan.
- Don’t smoke, and if you do, try to quit.
- Exercises regularly.
- Choose your doctor or midwife wisely. Tell your caregiver from the start that you would like a vaginal birth.
- Educate yourself about labour and birth. The more you know about it, the more relaxed and comfortable you’ll feel when it’s time to deliver your baby.
- Don’t use medications and interventions to early during labour, as this can increase your risk of having a C-section.
- Try and avoid an induction of labour.
- Support is key for labour and birth. Get a professional to support you during your labour. They are trained to use massage, relaxation techniques and many other skills to make you more comfortable.
- If your baby hasn’t turned to the head-down position three weeks before your due date, ask your caregiver what you can do to help baby turn.
- Avoid lying on your back when you’re in labour. The contractions are generally further apart, more uncomfortable and less effective. Click here for alternative positions for childbirth.
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