Delivery Complications

Even if the pregnancy has been low risk, sometimes complications arise during birth.


Cesarean Section

A vaginal birth may not always be possible. In many cases, this may be apparent before you even go into labor. The most common causes for an elective cesarean are that the baby's head is too large to pass through the birthing canal, the baby is in breech position (feet first), or the baby is lying across your pelvis. Other reasons include placenta previa and certain types of medical conditions. The surgery itself takes 35-45 minutes, but the baby is out within the first 5-10 minutes.

What Happens

  1. Pubic hair will be shaved and a catheter inserted.
  2. The abdomen will be cleaned.
  3. An IV infusion will be prepared in case additional medication is needed.
  4. Anesthesia will be given (this could include an epidural, spinal block, or general anesthetic)
  5. Once the anesthesia has taken effect two cuts will be made.
    • One will be made in your lower abdomen.
    • The second will be in the lower section near your uterus.
  6. The fluid inside will be suctioned out.
  7. The baby will be lifted out while pressure is applied to the upper portion of the uterus.
    • You may feel some pulling or pressure.
  8. The baby's nose and mouth will be suctioned.
    • This is when you'll hear the baby's first cry.
  9. The umbilical cord will be clamped.
  10. The placenta will be removed.
  11. Doctor will stitch up the incisions made.

Cesarean births usually require more time to recover over vaginal births. The bandages will be removed 3-4 days after delivery, and most stitches will dissolve on their on. Otherwise, they'll be removed about a week later. Lots of rest is required, and it may take several weeks before you can resume normal day activities.

Breech Delivery

When a baby is in breech position, this means that instead of the baby's head coming out first, the buttocks will be first through the birthing canal. With babies that are full term and in breech position, usually a cesarean section is performed. However, in some cases when labor is progressing well, a baby can be born vaginally, with the help of an episiotomy (an incision made to widen the vagina). Breech deliveries account for 4 out of every 100 babies.

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Eisenberg, Arlene; Murkoff, Heidi E.; Hathaway, Sandee E. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” Workman Publishing. 1996.