A cesarean section is also known as C-section. The term has varied spellings. It is the delivery of a baby through a process of one or more incisions made on a woman’s abdomen and uterus in order to deliver her baby(ies). This practice is an ancient one. According to Sima Qian. “楚世家 (House of Chu)”. Records of the Grand Historian (in Chinese), it dates as far back as c. 1030 – 223 BCE.
A C-section is mostly carried out when a normal or vaginal delivery poses adverse risk to the safety of the mother and or child. When this is not the case, a vaginal birth is ideal. The World Health Organization in it’s “WHO Statement on Caesarean Section Rates 2015” recommends that C-Sections be carried out only on grounds of medical need. The National Institute of Health reports that C-sections are mostly carried out when the following problems occur:
- Health problems in the mother
- The position of the baby
- Not enough room for the baby to go through the vagina
- Signs of distress in the baby
NIS also states that cesarean section is also common among pregnant women with more than one baby in their body. It states that the surgery is relatively safe; however, it carries some risks due to the fact that it is a major surgery. NIS further states that it ‘ takes longer to recover from a C-section than from vaginal birth. After healing, the incision may leave a weak spot in the wall of the uterus. This could cause problems with an attempted vaginal birth later. However, more than half of women who have a C-section can have vaginal birth later.’
According to Jan Kriebs, a University of Maryland Medical Center’s obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences department certified mid wife nurse, “Women really need to understand that a C-section is a major abdominal surgery… a team of health care professionals, including an OB, your mid-wife, and nurses work together for a successful outcome, C-sections are very serious.” Pregnant women are encouraged to seek proper medical advice before deciding on a c-section.
It is fast becoming a trend for women to opt for a C-section because they feel it is more easier to deal with the pain of C-section as opposed to that of vaginal birth. C-section rates are steadily on the increase for diverse reasons. According to Weisse, A.J, Elixhauser, A., & Andrews, R.M.(2014) Characteristics of the Operating Room Procedures in the U.S (2011), about one out of every 3 mothers in the U.S now give birth by cesarean section. The professional obstetrics societies of the U.S claim that cesarean sections are safer than vaginal birth for certain high risk birth cases but pose a high risk for birth cases with low risk factors.
Experts advise that C-sections be left for up to 39 weeks into pregnancy. This gives room for the fetus to develop properly.
RECOVERY FROM C-SECTION
After a cesarean section, the patient typically stays in the hospital for about four days, as opposed to two for a vaginal birth. The recovery process is measured in weeks. To ensure an effective healing process during this period it is best to do the following:
- drink lots of fluid. This helps to avoid constipation. It also helps to replace the fluids that were lost during child birth and breastfeeding.
- opt for pain relief as recommended by your health practitioner.
- consult your doctor if you notice an increasing pain around the incision spot.
- when you make sudden movements like laughing, coughing or sneezing etc. support your abdomen, near the incision spot, with your hands.
- Consult your health practitioner if your temperature exceeds 38 C or 100.4 F.
- do not attempt to commence exerting physical activities. Take it easy with yourself.
- when standing or walking, maintain a good posture.
- consult your health care practitioner if you notice that the point of incision is swollen, reddish or produces leaking discharge. These are possible signs of an infection.
- your recovery would take weeks, so you need help or assistance in caring for your baby.
- inform your health practitioner if the drugs prescribed for you are not achieving the desired result.
- if you intend to breastfeed after your procedure, ask for a lactation consultant to help you with the best breastfeeding options and position.
- use the bathroom regularly, as a bloated bladder puts pressure on the uterus, not allowing it to heal properly. You have to be extremely careful when taking your walk to the bathroom. Remember to maintain a good posture and support the incision point with your hands in case of sudden body movement.
- you might be encouraged to take short walks when you most likely feel comfortable and have taken pain relief medication. Work with your health care practitioner for safe results.
- Rest a lot.
- recovery from a cesarean section takes a long time, so be patient with your healing process.
Cesarean sections should be seen as a safe method of child birth if mother and or baby is exposed to a high risk involvement when vaginal birth is embarked upon; however, a vaginal birth is recommended where no adverse risk is posed to the health of mother and or child.