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Details on Unplanned Cesarean Section

DrSugar on Dealing With an Unplanned Cesarean Birth

DrSugar is in the house! And this week she's discussing how to deal with an unplanned cesarean birth based on her own experience.

Hello to all the readers out there! After a six-week hiatus, I’m back after having a beautiful baby boy and ready to answer your questions! However, this week, I’d like to share my birth story, which includes an unplanned cesarean section, so I will be offering advice on c-sections – from someone who just went through it!

Early on in my pregnancy, I decided that I wished to pursue a more natural unmedicated childbirth and took a natural childbirthing course with my husband. We learned special techniques for relaxation and to help with the pain of labor with hopes that my goal of an unmedicated labor and delivery would be realized. However, as a physician, I was aware that there was the possibility that things wouldn’t go as planned and that I would either need to have pain medication or an epidural or would have to have a cesarean section.


For more on how birth plans change, keep on reading.
I went into labor naturally at home and 24 hours later went to the hospital when my obstetrics team told me that I was in active labor. Initially, I was allowed to walk around and labor using the techniques I had learned and I was doing well without any pain medications. However, as the day progressed, my cervix just wasn't dilating as it should, so the decision was made to break my bag of waters to get labor to speed up and for my contractions to intensify. After they broke the bag of waters, my baby’s heart rate dropped to a dangerously slow rate and long story short, I had to have an emergency cesarean section because the obstetrician was concerned about the baby’s heart rate. It turns out that the baby was bigger than they had predicted, and the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. Yes, I was pretty scared at the time, but truly, all I cared about was the baby’s well-being.

A cesarean section is the birth of a baby through a surgical incision made through the abdomen and uterus. There are many reasons that obstetricians may decide to perform a cesarean section. According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reasons include: multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets, etc), failure of labor to progress normally, and concern for the baby (not enough blood flow, abnormal heart rate, etc.), problems with the placenta, a large baby, breech presentation (feet first), maternal infections (such as HIV or herpes), and previous cesarean birth.

Typically, one gets discharged from the hospital after a cesarean section about three to five days afterward. WebMD advises women to take it easy while the incision heals and avoid heavy lifting and intense exercise. Pain is to be expected afterward, and you may need to take either ibuprofen or a stronger prescribed medication for one to two weeks after surgery. Just as with a vaginal birth, there is vaginal bleeding for several weeks after a cesarean section. Other things to look out for are signs of infection from the incision (including pus, discharge, swelling, redness or increased pain). Also, based on the instructions of your physician, you will likely be instructed not to have sex or place anything in the vagina for many weeks (usually until your postpartum checkup).

My recovery wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I took it easy and had my husband help me in and out of bed or the couch. I only took ibuprofen for pain relief, but I had decided on my own that I did not want to take the opiate pain medications that were prescribed to me as they cause me to have side effects (itching, nausea, and drowsiness). About two weeks after the surgery, I only needed the ibuprofen as needed and I was taking daily walks without much discomfort. I think the key to my easy recovery was making sure to walk, proper nutrition, and having a positive attitude towards the pain I was having - the pain was worth it since I had a healthy happy baby boy!

I am looking forward to answering more of your health and medical questions – so if you have them please contact us here at FitSugar!

Have a question for DrSugar? You can send it to me via private message here, and I will forward it to the good doctor.

DrSugar's posts are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. Click here for more details.

Join The Conversation
lilashleyxox lilashleyxox 6 years
The people commenting here are ridiculous. Of course the most important thing is the mother and baby's health. Anyone who would risk harming their baby just because they don't want to have a csection shouldn't be a parent. congrats on the baby!
dannysf dannysf 6 years
Thanks for sharing your story Dr. Sugar. Sounds like you followed your health-care professional's advice and, as a result, you and your baby are safe and sound. Congrats!
mondaymoos mondaymoos 6 years
My cord was wrapped around my neck at birth, anon, and it seems I still managed to be birthed vaginally just fine. I'm not judging Dr. Sugar for her decision, just her doctors' for jumping to intervention too soon, like they ALWAYS do here in the States. There's a reason we have the highest fetal death rate in the western world.
Livi36 Livi36 6 years
Not surprised that unessecary intervention (breaking the water) led to a c-section. Perhaps, doctors should let women labor longer provided mom and baby are doing well. It's not uncommon for dialation to stall for several hours and if the bag is intact there doesn't need to be a rush to keep dialating.
deanna024 deanna024 6 years
Monday Moos -- I know what you mean. After watching the documentary "The Business of Being Born," I have a whole new set of thoughts about the birthing industry.
RobertsButton RobertsButton 6 years
Let's not forget the chord was wrapped around the baby's neck. I, too had an emergency c-section and my recovery was much like yours. Congrats on your sweet baby!
mondaymoos mondaymoos 6 years
Shock. Another C-section in America. Funny how the baby wasn't stressed until after they decided to break her water.
bcn1000 bcn1000 6 years
Glad that you and baby are ok, and thanks for sharing your experience!
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