Caesarean Sections

Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, Caesarean Sections, Dr JFA Potgieter

Concerns
One of the biggest controversies around childbirth is how to give birth. Some women prefer natural, vaginal birth but this is not an option for every woman - there are a wide range of conditions and complications that make C-sections a necessity. Placenta previa and uterine rupture are examples of clinical conditions where cesarean delivery are the safest choices, though there are many more. Some women also prefer to give birth via C-section over natural birth, as it offers a level of predictability. No matter what the reason for choosing cesarean over natural birth, Dr. Potgieter is here to ensure your delivery is a safe and magical experience.

What to Expect
20% of babies born in the world are delivered via C-Section. The procedure is typically planned for the the safest period for the baby. Dr. Potgieter will monitor the baby throughout your pregnancy and let you know when the baby is expected to reach the optimal time for delivery.

Prepare for Procedure
Nutrition is vitally important when preparing for a C-section. Eat healthy foods and remember the baby needs energy, protein, vitamins and minerals. Also, it is important to stay within a healthy weight range.

Exercise is also important but avoid becoming overheated, especially in the first trimester. Drink plenty of water, wear loose-fitting clothing, and exercise in a temperature-controlled room. Do not exercise outside when it is very hot or humid.

To prepare for your procedure, pack loose, comfortable clothing for the hospital and eat a light meal 12 hours before surgery.

Procedure
To prepare for the operation, an IV will be placed in the mother’s arm or hand to give her the fluids and medications she'll need during surgery. Her abdomen will be washed and her pubic hair may be clipped or trimmed.

A catheter is placed into the mother’s bladder to remove urine, and it will remain there for a day after the surgery. Women are usually given regional anesthesia, either an epidural block or a spinal block, which both numb the lower half of her body but will allow the mother to be awake when her baby is born. This tends to be safer than general anesthesia, where the mother would be totally asleep during the delivery.

The procedure is usually 60 - 120 minutes long, and the baby is usually born within the first 20 - 30 minutes. Dr. Potgieter will make an incision in the wall of the uterus through which the baby is delivered. Once born, the baby is handed to the mother while the umbilical cord is cut and the placenta removed, and then Dr. Potgieter will close the incisions and complete the procedure.

Recovering from a C-section
After a C-section, the mother may spend between 2 to 4 days in the hospital, but it may take her up to 6 weeks to feel more like herself again.

Her abdomen will feel sore from the surgery and the skin and nerves in this area will need time to heal. She will be given pain medications to take the edge off any post-surgical pain, and most women use these medications for about 2 weeks afterward.

She may also experience bleeding for about 4 to 6 weeks after a surgical birth. She is advised to not have sex for a few weeks after her C-section and to also avoid strenuous activities, such as lifting heavy objects.

Limitations
The saying “once a C-section, always a C-section” is not true. In fact, 70 percent of women still have successful vaginal births after a C-section. However, both C-sections and vaginal births are considered a risk after the third cesarean so please schedule an appointment with Dr. Potgieter to discuss your options if you have had three or more C-sections.

Reasons for C-Sections

  • Slow progress of labor
  • Abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Breech at 37 weeks
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets)
  • Larger than normal baby