Cesarean Births – What You Need To Know

Regardless of your plans for the birth, it’s wise to have some understanding of caesarean births and any associated risks.

What is a Caesarean Section?

A caesarean section (commonly called a ‘C-section’) is a surgical procedure in which an incision is made into the woman’s abdominal wall and the uterine wall (womb) in order to release the baby. A caesarean is called ‘elective’ when it has been decided on before the birth. When it is decided on after labour has begun, it is known as an ‘emergency’ caesarean. It can be performed under anaesthetic but is more often done using an epidural during which the mother is awake.

When Would You Have a C-Section?

Normal vaginal births are considered to be the safest option for mother and baby.

Generally, caesareans are recommended only in the event of the following:

  • The baby is in a breech position (bottom or feet down) or is laying sideways (transverse). For a natural birth it’s essential that the baby’s head be positioned down.
  • The baby’s head will not fit through the pelvis.
  • The baby is showing signs of fetal distress.
  • The cervix is blocked by the placenta.
  • The cervix does not expand as expected.
  • The umbilical cord has fallen through the cervix.
  • It’s a multiple birth.
  • The mother has a medical issue such as high blood pressure.
  • The labour is not progressing as it should.
  • What are the Risks?
  • C-Sections are performed routinely.

As with any surgical procedure however, there are risks. Possible problems include:

  • Damage to the mother’s blood vessels, bladder or other internal organs.
  • Wound infection.
  • Injury to the baby from surgical instruments.
  • Baby respiratory distress.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Blood clots.
  • Scar tissue inside the pelvis.
  • Adverse reactions to pain medication.

After the Operation

If you do undergo a C-section, after the birth you will be transferred to the hospital ward to recover. You will most likely stay in hospital for between 3 and 5 days, or longer if there are complications. Some women develop problems afterwards so it’s essential to notify a doctor or nurse immediately in the event of increased pain, leaking urine, increased vaginal blood loss, coughing, shortness of breath, swelling or pain in the lower leg.

At Home

You will need to take it easy for a while once you get home and you are advised not to lift heavy objects for at least 6 weeks. You may also not feel up to driving, exercising or intercourse. Do take care of yourself and rest.


For full details on caesareans, speak to your GP, obstetrician or midwife. Antenatal parenting courses are held at local hospitals. The ‘Parentline’ office in your State also offers advice and information.

The Future

Bringing a child into the home is also the ideal time to do some housekeeping and start looking at your life insurance options. Life insurance provides valuable support for your family in the future, and the future is something you’ll no doubt be thinking about a lot as you plan to welcome your newest little one home.

Nathan Meyer