When an expectant mom needs to have a Caesarean

Posted on 6 February 2013

You may have your heart set on natural childbirth but sometimes a Caesarean section is your safest bet. What happens if a C-section is your only option?

Meet our expert, Dr Francis Elemva, gynaecologist and obstetrician, Mediclinic Sandton. ‘I developed a passion for obstetrics while I was doing my internship in a rural hospital,’ says Dr Elemva. ‘I wanted to make taking care of pregnant women and assisting during birth my everyday work and I have never looked back. I have very little time to relax. I like playing with my two sons, going to restaurants or watching home movies or soccer on TV.’

I am 32 weeks pregnant and would really like to give birth naturally. Under what circumstances would I need a Caesarean section?
Generally speaking you would only need a Caesarean if natural birth was likely to put you or your baby at risk. This might be due to something that you are aware of before labour, for example if your baby were lying breech (with its bottom down) or transverse (sideways), or if you had placenta previa and the placenta was blocking the cervix.

What would be the reasons for a Caesarean after labour has begun?
There are a number of reasons you could need a Caesarean after going into labour, for example if:
•    your cervix stopped dilating.
•    your baby’s heart rate were cause for concern.
•    the umbilical cord had slipped through your cervix and could cut off the baby’s oxygen supply.
•    your placenta starts to separate from the uterine wall.

It’s hard to give up on a natural birth plan, but if you or your baby are at risk, it’s a route you will probably want to take.

If I had to have a Caesarean section, would I still be able to have natural birth again after that?
Yes, you could, however, many doctors still believe that a second Caesarean is the safest route. Very often in the private sector we choose not to opt for a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean) because if something goes wrong and you need an emergency Caesarean for a suspected uterine rupture, it takes time to assemble the necessary team, including an anaesthetist and paediatrician, and a few minutes delay can be fatal to your baby and you.

If you have questions on this post, or any other medical matter, please comment below or visit our Facebook page.

The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.

Published in Pregnancy

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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