Umbilical cord comes through the opening of the birth canal before the baby (umbilical cord prolapse)
A C-section is a safe procedure. The rate of serious complications is extremely low. However, certain risks are higher after C-section than after vaginal delivery. These include:
Infection of the bladder or uterus
Injury to the urinary tract
Injury to the baby
A C-section may also cause problems in future pregnancies. This includes a higher risk for:
Placenta growing into the muscle of the uterus and has trouble separating after the baby is born (placenta accreta)
These conditions can lead to severe bleeding (hemorrhage), which may require blood transfusions or removal of the uterus (hysterectomy).
All surgeries carry risks. Risks due to anesthesia may include:
Reactions to medications
Risks related to surgery in general may include:
Blood clots in the leg or pelvic veins
Expectations after surgery
Most mothers and infants do well after a c-section.
Women who have a C-section may have a vaginal delivery if another pregnancy occurs, depending on:
The type of C-section done
Why the C-section was done
Vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) delivery is usually successful. However, there is a small risk of uterine rupture, which can harm the mother and the baby. It is important to discuss the benefits and risks of VBAC with your health care provider.
The average hospital stay after C-section is 2 - 4 days. Recovery takes longer than it would from a vaginal birth. You should walk around after the C-section to speed recovery. Pain medication taken by mouth can help ease any pain.
Landon MB. Cesarean delivery. In: Gabbe SG, Niebyl JR, Simpson JL, ed. Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 5th ed. New York, NY: Churchill Livingstone; 2007: Chap.19.
Cunningham FG, Leveno KJ, Bloom SL, et al. Cesarean delivery and peripartum hysterectomy. In: Cunnigham FG, Leveno KL, Bloom SL, et al, eds. Williams Obstetrics. 23rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2010:chap 25.
Melanie N. Smith, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.