Whether you choose a C-section over a natural birth, or your circumstances require it, you must remember this is a surgical procedure, and it comes with certain risks. In the minds of many people, a C-section does not qualify as a major surgery.
Assuming that this procedure is "no big deal" is a mistake. In reality, two people, mother and child, could suffer injuries, or worse, if this supposedly simple procedure goes wrong.
So, what are the risks to your child?
Since two people are involved in this procedure, it only makes sense to look at the risks facing each one. The risks to your infant include the following:
- Your obstetrician or other surgeon could nick your child during the procedure.
- Your baby's Apgar scores may be lower due to a variety of issues such as fetal distress or anesthesia.
- Your baby may be born prematurely, which could require a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.
- Your baby could experience difficulties breathing in the first few days after birth.
- Asthma appears to occur more frequently in children born by C-section.
- Allergies, autism and ADHD also seem to plague babies born by C-section. Some research indicates that the lack of exposure to the mother's vaginal gut flora leads to higher instances of these conditions.
The above represent the more common risks your baby could face when born by C-section. Other, more serious and dire results could occur, depending on the circumstances.
So, what are the risks to you?
The risks to your child seem to pale in comparison to those you face. Like many other mothers here in Louisiana, you may find that a relief but still want to know what could go wrong for you. Your risks during this procedure include the following:
- You have an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
- You lose twice as much blood during a C-section than you would during a vaginal birth.
- Your risk of infection increases dramatically due to exposure of your organs and abdominal cavity during the procedure.
- You could react poorly to the anesthesia.
- You could experience a decrease in your bowel function. Even though this may last only a few days, it could be a long, painful and uncomfortable few days.
- You could develop scar tissue called adhesions.
- You could develop respiratory complications such as pneumonia due to the anesthesia.
- You will probably spend more time in the hospital, which increases your exposure to hospital-borne infections.
- The procedure could compromise your ability to bear more children.
- Your risk of a condition called placenta previa increases in future pregnancies.
- You could need additional surgeries to nearby organs or your uterus if something goes wrong during the procedure, such as a nick to another organ by the surgeon.
- You may never experience a natural childbirth.
If all goes well, you may only have to deal with "normal" after-effects of a C-section, which may be uncomfortable, but not life threatening. However, when your obstetrician or another surgeon makes a mistake, it could affect you for the rest of your life. Instances like these are why medical malpractice laws exist.