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Caesarean Section

Giving birth is an exciting but at times daunting experience, so it helps to know that there are a variety of ways in which a delivery can take place.

What is a Caesarean section?

A Caesarean section, also known as a C-section, is delivering your baby by surgery where incisions are made on your abdomen and uterus. A C-section occurs for a number of reasons, and they may be planned due to medical condition(s), personal preference, or unplanned as an emergency C-section.

Examples of these reasons are:

  • Previous birth through C-section
  • Active infection (e.g., herpes or human immunodeficiency virus, HIV) that may pass from mother to baby during vaginal delivery 
  • Labour has stopped progressing or is not progressing normally
  • If you have medical conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Multiple babies due, such as twins, triplets, or more
  • Baby is too large for birth canal
  • Placenta is blocking the cervix
  • Placenta separates from the uterus too early
  • Baby with certain birth defects
  • Baby or mother is showing signs of distress such as irregular heart rate or oxygen deprivation
  • Umbilical cord prolapse or when it enters the birth canal before the baby

How does a caesarean section work?

There are two ways in which a C-section incision can occur, these are: 

  • Vertically: from belly button to the pubic hairline.
  • Horizontally: across the pubic hairline. It is most used because it causes less pain and heals better and faster.

In general, all C-sections, whether planned or emergency, work in the same way, the main differences are the type of anaesthesia and the speed of the procedure. Most C-sections involve the use of a regional anaesthesia such as an epidural or a spinal block.

It usually takes about 5-10 mins to deliver your baby in a planned C-section while it may take only 1-3 minutes for your baby to be delivered via an emergency C-section; this is because you or your baby may be in distress and quick medical help may be required. C-section usually takes about 30-60 mins to complete.

The steps of a C-section are as follows:

  • You may or may not go into labour, this depends on whether your C-section is an emergency or planned.
  • An IV (intravenous) line will be placed so you can get medicines and fluid.
  • A catheter will also be inserted to empty your bladder during and after surgery.
  • If a regional anaesthesia (spinal and/or epidural) is used, you will be awake but numb from the waist down.
  • If a general anaesthesia is used, you will be asleep and numb during the entire procedure.
  • A screen is placed across your waist so you will not be able to observe the procedure.
  • An incision is made at your pubic hairline and then another incision is made on your uterus.
  • You may feel some pushing, pulling, pressure, and tugging but you will not feel pain.
  • Your baby will be delivered and examined, your placenta is then delivered, and the incisions sutured.
  • If regional anaesthesia is used, you should be able to hold and see your baby soon after he/she is examined and deemed healthy. If general anaesthesia is used, you will be able to do so when you wake up.

What are the benefits of a Caesarean section?

In certain circumstances, a C-section may be the safest option for you and your baby.

Some benefits of a C-section include:

  • Less pain during delivery
  • Reduced risk of injury to the vagina
  • Less occurrence of loss of bladder control
  • Reduced risk of pelvic organ prolapse (the womb, vagina, bowel, or bladder pushing up against the wall of the vagina)
  • Low risk of baby being deprived of oxygen
  • Able to plan date of delivery

What are the possible complications or risks of a Caesarean section?

A C-section is a major surgery, and as such, has several possible risks, these are:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding 
  • Injury to the bowel or bladder
  • Placenta abnormalities in future pregnancies
  • Adverse reaction to anaesthesia

How long does recovery take after a caesarean section?

You likely will experience some pain and discomfort once the anaesthesia wears off. You will be prescribed pain relief medications to help with the pain and antibiotics to prevent an infection. You may need some assistance getting up from an inclined position and laughing or coughing might cause some pain at the site of incision.  C-section will take approximately 6 weeks for full recovery.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Can I have a vaginal delivery after a Caesarean section?
    This type of birth is known as a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). It is possible but it also depends on your pregnancy and general health. Your obstetrician will discuss and weigh the pros and cons with you.

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#09-08 Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre
Singapore 228510

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