Sometimes a C-section is planned. If your baby is in the breech (bottom first) position, you’re carrying twins, triplets or more, or the placenta is blocking or too close to the cervix, your provider may schedule a C-section. Scheduled C-sections are performed in the operating rooms on the labor and delivery units.
Other times C-sections are not planned. If, during the course of labor, the baby appears too big to pass through your pelvis, labor is not progressing as it should, or the baby is showing signs of distress, your doctor may decide that a C-section is the best course of action.
What Happens During a C-Section Delivery?
During this procedure, an OB/GYN surgically removes the baby from your uterus through a low incision just above your pubic bone. This is a major abdominal surgery, so you would receive anesthesia, usually through an epidural or spinal block. The medication leaves you awake and alert, yet feeling no pain. You may feel some pressure or tugging, though. In some rare emergency cases, your doctor might order a general anesthetic.
A C-section usually takes about an hour, from start to finish. Your baby will be born within the first 15 minutes; the rest of the time is spent closing up the incision. You may have one other person in the room with you during the operation. As soon as your baby is born, you’re welcome to hold your newborn while your surgery is completed.
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Section (VBACs)
Most babies are born vaginally, and the growing number of vaginal births are what’s called a VBAC.
The primary concern about a VBAC is uterine rupture, a rare but serious risk. However, more studies are showing that VBACs are actually safer than having another C-section. Roughly 90 percent of people who have had C-sections are good candidates for VBACs.
If you meet the following conditions, you’re probably fine to do a VBAC:
- No more than two prior low transverse C-section deliveries
- No additional uterine scars, irregularities or previous ruptures
- No major medical issues or pregnancy complications (such as diabetes or high blood pressure)
- You’re carrying a head-down, single baby of a normal size
Some evidence suggests a greater risk of uterine rupture in VBACs where moms have their labor induced or helped along with Pitocin. And if you had a prior C-section for any of the following reasons, you’ll want to talk with your provider about risks and benefits of a VBAC:
- Dystocia, which is a long and difficult labor due to slow cervical dilation, a big baby, or a small pelvis
- Genital herpes
- Fetal distress