A Cesarean birth, most often called a Cesarean section or C-section, is the delivery of your baby through an incision in your abdomen and uterus. If it’s not an emergency situation, your doctor will schedule your C-section surgery in advance of your delivery. If your doctor recommends a C-section, knowing what to expect can make you more comfortable before and during the procedure.
Why Do I Need a C-Section?
Your doctor will recommend a C-section if it’s a safer delivery for you, your baby or both. Doctors often perform C-sections for any of the below reasons:
- Your labor isn’t progressing, which is the most common reason for a C-section
- Your baby is in an abnormal position, including breech (bottom down)
- Abnormal fetal heart rate, which can indicate your baby is in distress
- Large fetus size
- Multiple births
- Problems with the placenta or umbilical cord
- Previous C-section deliveries
- Other pregnancy or health complications
We do not recommend scheduling a C-section unless it is medically necessary. Particularly if you plan to have more children, multiple C-sections can cause risks to your placenta and heavy bleeding.
What are C-Section Risks?
As with any surgery, it’s important that you and your doctor discuss the risks. In addition to the risks below, you may also have complications specific to your health or pregnancy.
Risks to your baby:
- Breathing problems
- Surgical injuries
Risks to you:
- Bleeding, including blood clots and postpartum hemorrhage
- Reactions to anesthesia or other medication
- Surgical injury
- Bladder or bowel injury
- Trouble urinating or urinary tract infection
It is important to discuss with your physician if you would be a candidate for a vaginal delivery with a future pregnancy. Some C-section patients may not be able to deliver vaginally for future pregnancies. Certain uterine scars may not be strong enough to hold together during future labor contractions.
How Do I Prepare for a C-Section?
If you have a scheduled C-section, understanding what to expect can make you feel more comfortable as you approach your delivery date. We encourage you to speak to your Rush provider about:
- What you can do at home to prepare for your C-section
- What happens during your C-section procedure
- The different incision types and when they are used
- Breastfeeding after C-section
- The length of your hospital stay
- What to expect when you return home
- Signs of infection
If you’re planning a vaginal birth, it’s important to consider alternatives to your birth plan in case you have unexpected complications. We recommend you speak to your obstetric provider so you can prepare, ask questions and share any concerns before your delivery.
Rush Excellence in C-Section Surgery
- Expert and convenient care in one location: Our Family Birth Centers at Rush University Medical Center and Rush Copley Medical Center prioritize your safety and comfort. Our operating rooms are nearby our Mother Baby Units so after your C-section, your recovery room is just steps away.
- Dedicated obstetric anesthesia team: At Rush, we offer a dedicated obstetric anesthesia team. This team of experts, specially trained in anesthesia care for pregnant women, is assigned to labor and delivery at all times, and is available to meet with you before or after your treatment.
- Gentle C-sections available: Providers at Rush Copley Medical Center offer gentle C-sections during which the curtain separating you from your surgical area is replaced with a clear plastic drape so you can see your baby being born. Gentle C-sections also promote immediate skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby or your support person if you are not able.
- Breastfeeding after C-section: No matter what type of delivery you have, we are committed to helping you breastfeed successfully. As soon as you are able, often within the hour after your C-section, our nurses will support you as you feed your baby for the first time. Our team is trained to guide you through breastfeeding positions, post-surgery.
- Enhanced recovery to feel better, faster: Working with our obstetric anesthesia team, Rush obstetricians developed a care plan that helps you recover faster from your C-section. This plan includes decreasing certain postpartum medications and drinking specific liquids pre-surgery to reduce nausea. These small changes add up to you feeling better, faster, as you care for your baby.