What is a c-section? And what are its risks?

A c-section or a cesarean delivery is one of the two available options to deliver a baby. A woman can undergo this procedure voluntarily out of her own will, or under certain medical emergencies. In this article, I will answer the frequently asked questions about c-sections to ease the minds of expecting moms.

Cherifa Sharaf
Published on:Jan 1st 2023 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
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When does a doctor decide to perform a C-section? 

In some cases, a C-section is a lifesaving procedure to save the fetus or the mother, or both. 10 to 20% of pregnant women undergo a cesarean surgery, the number was much higher in the past, but today a C-section is done under rigorous medical standards. The doctor may decide to do a c-section if there are complications during labor and delivery such as:

  • The cervix not opening.
  • The fetus’s head not descending.
  • Weak contractions.
  • Decrease or increase in the fetal heartbeat.
  • Multiple pregnancies.
  •  The size of the baby is bigger than the mom’s pelvis.
  • The fetus weighs more than 4 kilos.

Also read Vaginal birth after cesarean: All you need to know

When is a cesarean surgery done?

It is usually done during the last week of pregnancy unless there is a medical emergency calling for it earlier.

How is a C-section performed?

The surgeon cuts the lower abdomen laterally, opening up the layers to the uterus, then after opening the uterus, the baby is taken out and the mom is closed back up again.

What are the risks of this procedure?

The risks associated with a c-section are the same as the ones associated with other surgeries such as:

  • Risk of bleeding.
  • Risks associated with anesthesia.
  • Possibility of infection.
  • Risk of blood clotting.

The main risk associated with a c-section is the risk of Placenta accreta happening in the following pregnancy.

What are you not allowed to do after a C-section?

  • Carrying heavy things.
  • Doing abs exercises for 3 months after the surgery.

Self-care after a cesarean delivery

The same tips given to women postpartum after a vaginal delivery, apply to women after a c-section, these tips include:

  • Following a healthy and protein-rich diet.
  • Drinking enough water.
  • Getting enough rest.
  • Wearing a postpartum belt.

When is intercourse allowed after a c-section?

As in the case of vaginal delivery, intercourse should wait until after six weeks postpartum.

When is showering possible?

A lady who underwent a cesarean delivery can take a shower on the same day after surgery while keeping the incision dry and protected from soap and water.

When do the abs go back to the way they were before pregnancy

The abs need at least six weeks to go back to the pre-pregnancy condition. So don’t expect flat abs before that.

Flatulent after a c-section and how to deal with it

Your bowels may become a little bit lazier after the surgery making you feel gassy and bloated. Make sure you consume light foods that don’t worsen the bloating and take the medication prescribed by your doctor.

When does the incision heal?

The c-section incision needs about six weeks to heal. But because the incision is big and lateral it needs 3 to 6 to completely heal.

When can I get pregnant after having a cesarean delivery?

Some women get pregnant 3 months after a c-section, without any complications. However, it is not medically recommended, we recommend waiting two years after getting pregnant, especially for a successful attempt for a VBAC.

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Cherifa SharafObstetrics & Gynecology Consultant

Consultant of obstetrics, gynecology & Infertility, with years of experience in women’s healthcare. Dr.Cherifa is practicing at Qasr El Eyni Hospital/ Cairo University in addition to several other hospitals and centers in Cairo Egypt. She holds a Ph.D. in medicine from Cairo University in addition to the European Diploma of Operative Gynecology from Clermont-Ferrand, France, and Diploma of Management of Infertility from Antoine Béclère Faculty of Medicine Paris, France. Dr. Cherifa is very passionate about providing the appropriate health care to women and believes the overall health of a woman is key to her reproductive and maternal health. She is a strong believer in the importance of raising women’s awareness and educating them about everything related to health in general and reproductive health in particular.

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