When Is a C-Section the Best Delivery Option?

When Is a C-Section the Best Delivery Option?

Although human beings have probably delivered newborns surgically throughout most of our history, a cesarean section seems to have been named for the ancient Roman emperor Julius Caesar. During his reign, full-term pregnant women who were dead or dying had their children delivered surgically, to ensure the increase of the Roman population

 In the earliest days of cesarean section, now often called C-section, women rarely survived the ordeal, and often infants died, too. However, by the 19th century, surgeons were often able to successfully deliver a healthy baby and save the mother’s life as well.

Fortunately, the C-section has evolved considerably since then. Some women even elect to have a C-section so that they can plan their lives around a definite delivery date.

 It’s always best to deliver vaginally so that the baby is exposed to the mother’s antibodies in the birth canal. Nevertheless, in 2021, nearly a third of the live births in the United States were accomplished by C-section. 

Even if you always dreamed of delivering vaginally, you may not be able to do so. In instances where the mother’s or child’s life or health is endangered, a C-section is the best option.

At Mian OB/GYN & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, expert OB/GYN Dr. Rafiq Mian and our team are experts in both vaginal delivery and C-section. 

Is a C-section your best delivery option? Following are some of the cases in which it might be.

The baby isn’t head down

As you near your delivery date, your baby usually turns upside down, with their head on your cervix. This position facilitates delivery, so that the baby’s large head comes first, followed by shoulders, body, and legs.

However, in some cases, the baby never turns upside down. Instead, their legs or butt remain near the cervix, a position called “breech.” The breech position is risky because a leg or arm could get stuck in the uterus, making vaginal delivery difficult or impossible.

Another dangerous position is called transverse. In this case, the baby’s shoulder is at the bottom of the uterus, near the cervix. 

In some instances, we can correct the baby’s position manually. However, if the that’s not possible, then the baby must be delivered via C-section.

Labor doesn’t progress normally

Probably the most common reason to perform a C-section is when labor doesn’t progress. Either the uterus gets stuck in early labor; while the cervix dilates, labor never progress to the point where the uterus starts to push the baby outward.

Early labor generally lasts 12-24 hours for a first birth and 8-10 hours for subsequent births. If early labor lasts significantly longer than that, you may need a C-section.

In other instances, labor gets caught in the “push” stage, known as active labor. If this stage of labor goes on too long, it risks distressing the baby and exhausting the mother. We may recommend a C-section to hasten delivery.

Something blocks the way

Sometimes the placenta blocks the cervix, so the baby can’t get out of the uterus. In other cases, a portion of the umbilical cord prolapses, gets in front of the baby, and blocks the cervix. 

In other cases, uterine fibroids may make it difficult or impossible for the baby to reach the cervix. In rare cases, the baby’s head is so large (hydrocephalus) that it can’t pass through the cervix and birth canal.

In all of these instances, we must perform a C-section to deliver the baby. After a C-section, however, you don’t necessarily have to deliver via cesarean for your next birth. 

If you’re pregnant, be sure you get the prenatal care you need for your best chances at an uneventful pregnancy and happy delivery — whether vaginally or by C-section. For prenatal care and to discuss your birth plan, call us or use our online form to book an appointment today.

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