The time of labor and delivery of a new baby is often stressful, both in anticipation for the mother and during the event for both parents. More times than not the event is uncomplicated and the baby enters the world into the open arms of their parents.
However, there are times that the birth becomes complicated, or the physician anticipates that the labor or delivery will present complications. In these cases an emergency cesarean section may be necessary to improve the chances that the baby will be born without any injury or disability.
What is a Cesarean Section or C-Section?
A cesarean section, or c-section, is when the baby is delivered through a surgical incision through the stomach and uterus of the mother. In some instances this surgical procedure is scheduled in advance and in others it’s done when unforeseen complications arise.
Cesarean Section Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 30% of women in the U.S. who had a baby in 2005 had a cesarean delivery. This number continues to rise each year: 6% of births in 1970 were cesarean, 17% in 1980 and 23% in 1990.
Cesarean Section Side Effects
There are additional side effects to moms who have cesarean sections such as an increased risk of infection, excessive bleeding, blood clots, more post-partum pain and a longer hospital stay.
When Do You Need a Cesarean Section
A mom may need to have an emergency cesarean section if problems come up during the labor and delivery process that make continuing the process dangerous to either the baby or the mother. But since the percentage of babies who are born by c-section continue to increase each year and the natural process hasn’t changed there must be a change in either the medical interventions that increase the risk of c-section or a change in the perception of medical personnel as to what is really a dangerous situation.
There are some who argue that physicians are also more likely to recommend a c-section because it makes the process of labor and delivery more convenient for them. When a woman has a planned c-section or an emergency cesarean section that happens around office hours doctors and patients may have been unduly influenced by the convenience of the timing or the knowledge that there will be complete pain control.
There are other instances when a c-section becomes necessary based on medical reasons. These can be that the cervix stops dilating or the baby stops moving down the birth canal. Doctors may find that attempts to stimulate contractions don’t work. This may be the case if an epidural or spinal anesthesia affects the functioning of the uterus in this individual case.
In some cases practitioners may be concerned with the response of the baby’s heart rate to labor. Evaluating this heart rate may indicate that the baby is in distress during labor and not receiving enough oxygen during contractions. This may decrease the amount of oxygen that the baby receives, which will cause damage to the baby’s organs, most notably the brain.
There are different reasons for the baby not to receive enough oxygen during labor – the umbilical cord may prolapse through the cervix, or slip out. This will immediately cut off the oxygen supply. The placenta may start to separate from the uterine wall during labor, which is a process that happens after the baby is born and not before. The placenta will continue to deliver blood and oxygen to the baby throughout the process. If it starts to separate it will cause distress to the baby.
In some cases of women who have genital herpes a vaginal delivery may be planned but at the time of labor or delivery there is an outbreak. The physician may recommend a delivery by c-section to decrease the possibility of a herpes infection in the baby which can be life threatening to the child.