According to the March of Dimes, almost 32% of live births in the United States were delivered through cesarean section (C-section) in 2020. Vaginal birth is usually healthier for you and your baby, because your baby is exposed to beneficial bacteria in the birth canal, but sometimes a surgical C-section delivery is necessary.
If you’re currently pregnant, you may wonder if you can deliver vaginally or must have a C-section instead. You may be especially concerned if you’ve had a C-section before: Does that mean all of your babies must now be delivered surgically?
At Florida Woman Care of Jacksonville, with two locations in Jacksonville, Florida, our caring and knowledgeable OB/GYNs Daniel McDyer, MD, FACOG, and Julian Stephen Suhrer, MD, offer prenatal care during your pregnancy. This includes evaluating whether you and your baby will be safe with a vaginal delivery or if a C-section is necessary.
Do you need a C-section? The following summary may help you find the answer.
There are two types of C-sections
Some C-sections are booked in advance. Others C-sections must be performed on an emergency basis due to complications of the pregnancy or labor.
If you have certain medical conditions that could endanger your health or your baby’s health, we schedule a C-section in advance. Unless it increases the risks of complications, we wait until about 39 weeks of pregnancy before scheduling a C-section to avoid the risk of premature birth.
A vaginal birth is the healthiest for you and your baby in normal circumstances. However, if complications ensue during labor that could threaten your life or your baby’s life, then we perform an emergency C-section.
Why you might need a scheduled C-section
We may schedule you for a C-section if you have a high-risk pregnancy or other medical factors that could endanger you or your baby’s health. We discuss the possibility of a C-section with you during your prenatal exams so that you can prepare yourself for a nonvaginal birth. You may need a schedule C-section if you have:
- High blood pressure
- HIV infection
- Active herpes sores in vaginal area
- Heart disease
- Neurological problems
- Twins, triplets, or other multiples
You may also need a C-section if you had a prior C-section or uterine surgery. However, that’s not always the case. If your uterus is strong enough, we encourage you to proceed with a vaginal birth.
Why you might need an emergency C-section
Even with the best prenatal and delivery care, complications during labor may make a C-section necessary. You may need an emergency C-section due to factors such as:
- Abnormal fetal heart rate
- Abnormal labor (slow or stops)
- Abnormal fetal position
- Placenta previa (abnormal bleeding)
- Placenta blocks the cervix
- Placenta detaches from fetus too soon
- Baby is too large for birth canal
- Umbilical cord problems
- Birth defects in baby
- Baby is in distress
- Mother is in distress
During a C-section, your pain is controlled, but you remain awake. In most cases, you’re able to hold and bond with your baby shortly after its birth. You probably need to stay in the hospital for 2-3 days so your health can be monitored.
A C-section requires a long recovery period so that your body can heal from surgery. You’ll need help taking care of your baby and of yourself, too. For the first 6 weeks, you must abstain from sex and from putting anything in your vagina, including tampons. Don’t lift anything heavier than 25 pounds. You might not be able to drive for 1-2 weeks.
High-quality prenatal care may reduce your risk for a C-section. For the support and guidance you and your baby need for a healthy delivery, schedule a pregnancy consultation by contacting our supportive team today. Call one of our two Jacksonville, Florida, locations nearest you or use our online scheduler.