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Cesarean Birth

Cesarean birth is the delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.

Cesarean births are typically done for the following reasons:

  • Failure of labor to progress
  • Concerns for the baby or possible distress of the baby during labor
  • Twins or Triplets in pregnancy
  • Placenta problems
  • Abnormal presentations of the baby
  • Maternal infections like herpes or HIV
  • Maternal conditions like hypertension or diabetes
  • By maternal request (not common and only after careful discussion of risks and long-term consequences)

The incision for the cesarean is made through your skin and the wall of the abdomen. The skin incision may be transverse (bikini) or vertical.  The muscles of the abdominal wall are separated (not cut).  Another incision will be made in the wall of the uterus. The incision in the wall of the uterus also can be made vertically or horizontally, depending on the reasons for the cesarean delivery.

The baby will be delivered through the incision, the umbilical cord will be cut and then the placenta will be removed. The uterus will be closed with stitches that will dissolve into the body. Dissolving stiches are used to close the skin of your abdomen as well. 

Complications from the cesareans are uncommon and include:

  • Infection
  • Blood loss and sometimes transfusions of blood
  • Blood clots of the legs, pelvis or lungs
  • Injury to the bladder or the bowel
  • Reaction to medication or anesthesia that would need to be used

You’re typically awake but without pain for the procedure, so you can hold your baby soon after delivery. You will be taken to a recovery area for monitoring and then a room to recover while you stay in the hospital. Breastfeeding is encouraged and can start right away. The first few times that you get out of bed (encouraged) a nurse will need to help you. The abdominal incision will be sore for the first few days and your doctor will decide on the proper medication for you and your recovery.  The hospital stay after the operation is typically two to four days. When you go home, you may need to take special care of yourself and limit your activities. You may need extra help at home for the first couple of weeks. Your doctor will see you in the first three weeks following surgery, and then thereafter through your complete recovery. 

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