Emergency C-Sections – Reasons, Risks And Recovery

6 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

..Emergency C-Sections – Reasons, Risks And Recovery

Childbirth can be extremely unpredictable. When you are pregnant, all you yearn for is a normal delivery and a healthy baby during labor, even if that means going through a lot of pain and discomfort. Even if you would have planned for a vaginal birth, normal delivery cannot always be the outcome. This article deals with everything about reasons, risks, and recovery from emergency C-sections.

There can be circumstances that can make an emergency C-section inevitable. More often it keeps the mother and baby safe from any further complications. When you are nearing your due date, it is better that you understand what an emergency C-section involves so that you are well prepared if you end up in this situation.

In This Article

Video Of Why You May Need An Emergency C-Section

What Is An Emergency C-Section?

Cesarean delivery is done by making incisions in the abdomen and uterus of the pregnant woman and delivering the baby quickly. If labor has already started and due to some complications it is not progressing as desired, then there can be a need for an emergency C-section.

Often C-sections are planned and scheduled well in advance in cases where the mother or the baby has a medical condition that makes vaginal delivery difficult. Planned C-section is never an emergency irrespective of what the medical condition is. But sometimes, for women who have opted for vaginal delivery, the cesarean section becomes a lifesaving procedure during emergencies.

How Does An Emergency C-Section Differ From A Planned C-Section?

Emergency C-section differs from planned or scheduled C-section in the following way:

The Time Frame

For scheduled C-sections, there will be enough time for preparation. On the other hand, for an emergency cesarian procedure, the decision and the surgery procedure will not be more than 30 minutes. Depending on the emergency, the time window can even be shorter.

The Method of Anesthesia

During an emergency C-section, more often, general anesthesia will be given and the mother will be put to sleep throughout the procedure. This is because, in a case of an emergency, there will not be enough time or condition to place an epidural or spinal block.

If an epidural is already given to the mother, there will not be enough time to give an additional dose of the medicine to make her comfortable through the surgery. Whereas, in the case of scheduled cesarian, an epidural is given so that the mother will be awake throughout the procedure.

Recovery Time

The recovery time is different in both cases. In the case of an emergency C-section, the mother will feel more groggy or nauseous due to the effect of general anesthesia. Also, you will be separated from your baby for a long time in case of an emergency C-section as you will be under general anesthesia. Whereas, in the case of scheduled C-sections this will not be the case.

8 Reasons For An Emergency C-Section

8 Reasons For An Emergency C-Section

If you need an emergency C-section, then it means that your doctor has decided that you or your baby are unsafe and immediate delivery through a C-section is the only way out.

Here are some reasons that can lead to an emergency C-section:

1. Fetal Distress

When the oxygen supply of your baby is compromised in the womb, it is known as fetal distress. It can lead to decreased fetal heart rate and can be dangerous for your baby. It usually occurs during labor, but can sometimes happen even in the third trimester of pregnancy. Fetal distress is the most common reason for an emergency C-section.

2. Cephalopelvic Disproportion

This happens when the pelvis of the mother is small and thus obstructs the baby’s head from smoothly passing through the birth canal. This condition is usually diagnosed at the birth table and makes vaginal delivery difficult and an emergency C-section inevitable.

3. Uterine Rupture

If you have undergone a C-section in your previous delivery, then you can opt for vaginal birth in your subsequent pregnancy or VBAC. But bear in mind that most of the time a vaginal birth after a C-section can lead to uterine rupture along a previous C-section scar thus leading to an emergency C-section in the delivery room.

4. Mother is Too Tired

If the mother becomes too exhausted to push the baby out or if some other health issues in the mother emerge inside the delivery room, then an emergency C-section is performed.

5. Prolapsed Umbilical Cord

This is a rare condition, but whenever it occurs, it calls for an emergency cesarian. A cord prolapse happens when even before the baby is born, the umbilical cord slides through the cervix and comes out of the vagina. The pressure of the cord from the fetus will cause the umbilical cord to compress thereby cutting off the oxygen supply to the fetus, which is a life-threatening situation.

6. Delay in Dilation

Sometimes even if the pregnant woman is having intense labor pains, the cervix might not dilate enough for the baby to pass through the birth canal. This delay in the dilation of the cervix can also be another reason for an emergency cesarian.

7. Placental Abruption

Placental abruption is a condition in which the placenta detaches from the wall of the uterine lining even before the delivery. Emergency C-section is the only option to save the baby who can be deprived of oxygen and nutrients and the mother who can experience heavy bleeding.

8. Failure of Labor to Progress

During the second stage of labor, if the labor slows down or completely stops, an emergency C-section is performed. This can happen due to several reasons like Cephalopelvic disproportion, weak contractions, posterior presentation, etc.

How Long Does An Emergency C-Section Take To Perform?

The aim of an emergency C-section is to get the baby out as soon as possible. This is to save the life of the baby or mother or both. Therefore, (as mentioned before) the time window from deciding to go to an emergency C–section and surgical procedure will be very short. If the C-section is an emergency, the time from the incision to delivery will take about two minutes.

What Is The Recovery Time For An Emergency C-Section?

What Is The Recovery Time For An Emergency C-Section_

Recovering from a cesarian takes a longer time than a vaginal delivery. Recovery time from an emergency cesarian will be longer than that of a scheduled cesarian. If the emergency cesarian is due to fetal distress the recovery period will be as same as a scheduled C-section.

On the other hand, if an emergency cesarian happens due to some maternal complication, the recovery time depends on nature and how intense that complication was. Mostly the mothers will be discharged within 8 days after the surgery. However, lifting weights or doing any difficult tasks or exercises will not be permitted for another 6 to 8 weeks. To help you recover better:

    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Eat healthy and nutritious food.
    • Indulge in short walks.
    • Take help from family and friends for household chores.
    • In case you are concerned about anything, check with your doctor.

Also read: 12 Self Help Tips When Recovering From A C-Section Delivery

The Risks And Complications Of An Emergency C-Section

doctors performing c-section surgery

In the first place, an emergency cesarian happens due to some complications during delivery. Therefore, expect several risks during and after an emergency C-section.

  • The chances of excessive bleeding are high.
  • Chances of developing complications from the rapidly administered anesthesia are also high.
  • The possibility of an injury to the internal organs of the mother is higher in an emergency cesarian.
  • Likewise, the chances of injury to the baby are also high in an emergency cesarian.
  • The chances of infections and the development of blood clots are also high in an emergency cesarian.

When to See a Doctor Post C-Section Delivery?

You should call a doctor or visit your practitioner if you see the following symptoms after a C-section

  • If there is any infection at the incision or if you experience any pus, swelling, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
  • If your body temperature rises to more than 100.4 Fahrenheit
  • When you experience difficulty in breathing
  • Vaginal discharge that has a foul smell
  • If you feel severe pain in your belly
  • If the incision comes open
  • Difficulty in passing urine or stool
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • If Vaginal bleeding gets worse or is still bright red after four to five days of delivering your baby
  • If there are signs of a blood clot, pain in the back of knees, groin pain, thigh, or calf
  • A blood clot that is larger than a golf ball
  • If you need two pads every two hours for vaginal bleeding
Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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