What are the Risks Associated with a Caesarian Section?

The most common problems following cesarean delivery are heavy bleeding, endometritis, bladder injury, and blood clots in the large veins of the legs, pelvis or lungs.

Written by: Ariba Khaliq Updated at: 2015-02-09 00:00

Caesarian sections are being performed more commonly now-a-days. Many women opt for it as a planned procedure to avoid labour pains or the possible complications of vaginal birth. However, it is not without risks.


Risks for the Baby

  • Breathing problems: The risk of developing breathing problem that is transient tachypnea of newborn is higher in babies delivered by caesarian section. Transient tachypnea of newborn is a breathing problem which causes abnormally fast breathing during the first few days after birth. The risk of this complication is higher in babies who are delivered by elective C-sections before 39 weeks of pregnancy and in babies who are delivered before completing term (that is 37 weeks of pregnancy). The problem develops as the baby's lungs are not mature.

  • Fetal injury: This is a rare complication but accidental nicks to the baby's skin or other parts can occur during surgery.


Risks for the Mother

  • Longer recovery: The recovery time after C-section is longer as compared to vaginal birth. After vaginal delivery the mother recovers within a few days and becomes well enough to care for herself and the baby. But after a C-section you may need help for a few weeks to take care of your house, household work and other children (if you have).


  • Infection: There is a risk of developing inflammation and infection of the uterus (the membrane lining the uterus), which is a  condition is called endometritis. Some symptoms of endometritis include fever, chills, back pain, foul-smelling vaginal discharge and uterine pain. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics and if need intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Wound infection at or around the incision site can occur which may require oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotics.


  • Increased bleeding: Blood loss in C-section may be more than vaginal birth. However, most women do not need blood transfusions, unless they develop some complication or are anemic (that is have low hemoglobin).


  • Reactions to anesthesia: Like any other surgery there is a risk of developing anesthesia related complications (allergic or other adverse reactions). After regional anesthesia you may experience a headache due to leak of the fluid around the spinal canal into the tissues of the back.


  • Blood clots: The complication formation of blood clot inside a vein in the legs or pelvic organs is more common after a C-section than after a vaginal delivery. The blood clot can get detached from the site of formation and travel to your lungs (pulmonary embolism) and this can sometimes become a life-threatening.


  • Surgical injury: There is a risk of injury to nearby organs during surgery in C-section and need for surgery to repair it can occur after C-section.


  • Risk increased in future pregnancies: The risk of serious complications such as need for subsequent C-section, bleeding, placenta previa and tearing of the uterus along the scar line from the prior C-section (uterine rupture) are more likely in a subsequent pregnancy after C-section than after a vaginal delivery.


Read more articles on C-section.


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