Will you need a C-section? What does a C-section involve?
A cesarean section, also called a C-section or LSCS (lower segment cesarean section), is an operation to deliver the baby through the tummy when it is not possible or not advisable to
deliver the baby through the vagina. A cesarean section can be planned in advance (elective), or it can be an emergency.
A cesarean section is performed either for the safety of the mother or baby or both. Below are some common conditions which may require a cesarean delivery:
There are 2 types of anesthesia used for cesarean section:
If you are in labour, you can opt for epidural pain relief (analgesia). Should you be unable to have a vaginal delivery and require an emergency C-section, this can be carried out under the epidural as well (read
the article on Labour Pain Relief).
There is now an increasing trend of mothers requesting for an elective cesarean section in order to avoid undergoing labour. Some do it out of fear of a vaginal delivery, while others do it to prevent any perineal or vaginal trauma.
In addition to the possible complications as mentioned above, there are other issues to consider as well. They include:
In all, research clearly shows that elective primary cesarean section poses much greater risks to both mother and child in the short term, long term and future pregnancies compared to a normal vaginal birth.
An emergency cesarean section will be advised if it is deemed that you will not be able to deliver the baby safely through the vagina. The common reasons for an emergency cesarean section include:
The risk of tear at the uterine scar during labour is not dependent on the period of respite after the cesarean section.
There are pros and cons to a repeat cesarean section and it is discussed in greater detail in the
next chapter. However, women who have a cesarean section are more likely to have one again in the future.
The cesarean section will be performed if it is deemed that you will not be able to deliver vaginally safely. Therefore, your obstetrician will advise on the most appropriate method based on the clinical situation.
After a cesarean section, women are less likely to start breastfeeding in the first hour after the birth, but if they do start they are just as likely to continue breastfeeding as those who have a vaginal delivery.
The cut in the womb will heal after six weeks and the womb returns to its pre-pregnancy state. Thus, theoretically, it will be safe to conceive after six months to a year after the cesarean section. However, do take into account the physical and emotional stress of coping with a newborn. Thus, conceive again only when you are ready for the next child.
Source: Dr TAN Thiam Chye, Dr TAN Kim Teng, Dr TAN Heng Hao, Dr TEE Chee Seng John, The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth, World Scientific 2008.
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This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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