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A baby can be born in one of two ways. A vaginal birth is one in
which the baby is delivered through the mother's birth canal (vagina). A
cesarean birth (C-section) is one in which the baby is delivered through an
incision in the mother's lower abdomen and uterus. A cesarean birth is a
surgical procedure done with
anesthesia. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to recover
completely from the surgery. But most mothers are up and able to care for
their infants in 3 to 4 days.
A C-section may be done when a quick delivery is needed for the
safety of the mother or baby. Some cesareans are done after labor has
slowed or stopped and a manual exam shows that the fetal head is not engaging
in the pelvis. This sometimes happens when the fetal head is larger than the
mother's pelvic girdle (cephalopelvic disproportion).
Some conditions or problems that may require a cesarean birth can be
identified before labor begins. These conditions include the following:
Many cesarean births are done on an emergency basis when maternal or
fetal problems or complications develop during labor. Such situations
In the past, a woman who had one cesarean birth then had to have all
of her other babies delivered by cesarean also. This is no longer the case.
Depending on the reason for the original cesarean and the type of incision that
was made, a woman may be able to deliver her next baby vaginally. For more
information, see the topic Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2000, reaffirmed 2013). Fetal macrosomia. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 22. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 96(5): 1–11.
November 13, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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