Having your heart set on a vaginal birth doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t need a Caesar for some reason. But there are ways to help reduce the risk of going under the knife, so to speak.
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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