A cesarean is a major surgical procedure, and although these types of deliveries are done regularly there are still risks involved. Whether you are choosing to have a cesarean or have to have one due to complications it is still wise to know what the possible risks are.
Risks and Possible Complications for Mom
Most of these risks would be the same for any type of abdominal surgery:
· Infection – Can occur around the incision, in the uterus or other organs, like the bladder.
· Hemorrhage or blood loss – Usually there is more blood loss associated with a cesarean than a vaginal birth. On occasion this can result in a blood transfusion (1-6%)
· Organ injury – There is a risk of injury to the surrounding organs, like the bowel or bladder (2%)
· Adhesion – On occasion scar tissue can develop inside the pelvic region which can lead to blockage and pain, and complications with future pregnancies.
· Extended stay in hospital – even after an uncomplicated cesarean the mother will need to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days.
· Recovery time – it can take many months to recover from a cesarean, and can interfere with your ability to drive and do normal activities.
· Adverse medical reaction – there is a small chance of a bad reaction to anesthesia or to the pain medication given after the procedure is completed.
· Risk of more surgeries – in rare cases there may been the need for a follow-up surgery such as a hysterectomy, bladder repair or a repeat cesarean.
· Maternal mortality – the risk of death for the mother is higher for a cesarean than a vaginal birth
· Negative emotions – some mothers have difficulty bonding with their baby after a cesarean or feel negatively about the birth.
Risks for the Baby
· Prematurity – if the exact gestational age is not known there is a risk that the baby will be delivered early.
· Breathing difficulty – some babies may experience breathing problems or have respiratory difficulties immediately after delivery.
· Low AGPAR scores – babies who are delivered by cesarean are 50% more likely to have a lower AGPAR score than babies delivered vaginally, mainly due to anesthesia, fetal distress or lack of stimulation during delivery.
· Fetal Injury – there is a 1 to 2% chance that they baby main be cut during the surgery.
If a Cesarean is Recommended
If you are able to, discuss with your health care provider the options regarding the procedure:
· Ask why a cesarean procedure has been recommended
· Find out if there are any alternatives for your situation
· Discuss the health risks of having a cesarean versus not having a cesarean
· Talk about the normal procedures for cesareans and discuss when you will be able to hold your baby and who can be present in the operating room with you (partner, family, midwife or doula).