Why You Might Have a Caesarean

There are a variety of reasons why a caesarean may be required over a vaginal delivery. Firstly let’s look at the difference between an elective cesarean and a non-elective caesarean.

An elective cesarean is a planned cesarean where you’ll be booked into hospital on a particular date and time.. An elective cesarean may be required for reasons including (but not limited to), complications during pregnancy (for example placenta previa which is when the placenta is positioned over or too close to the cervix), if your baby is in the breech position (i.e. their feet are down instead of their head), if you’ve previously had a cesarean or if you’re carrying multiples. An elective cesarean may also be the mother’s preference and her chosen delivery method.

A non- elective cesarean (also referred to as an emergency cesarean or an unplanned cesarean) is a cesarean which needs to occur as a matter of urgency during labour to quickly bring the baby earthside. Reasons for an emergency cesarean may include (but are not limited to), a prolonged labour, the baby may be showing signs of distress (such as a drop in heart rate), a tangled or prolapsed umbilical cord or an unfavorable position of the baby (i.e. transverse where the baby is on their side or in a breech position). Written consent is required before a non-elective cesarean takes place.

How Common Are Caesareans

1 in 3 women (roughly 37%) in Australia will deliver via a cesarean. In 2005 these numbers were more like 1 in 5. The increasing prevalence of cesareans is largely unexplained however some in the medical field imply it could be due to women having babies a little later in life. Others say the increase may be encouraged by Australia’s medically focused maternity system (as opposed to midwifery focused).


If you’re a planner, well what an advantage to know exactly when your baby will greet you in the case of an elected cesarean! On a more serious note, the benefits of a caesarean include less trauma endured by the vagina, a more controlled handle on pain and there is less risk of postpartum incontinence and/or pelvic floor damage such as prolapse.

Considerations and Risks

Like all things in life, there are both pros and cons to birth via a caesarean. The risks should be spoken about with your OBGYN as they may vary with every woman and every pregnancy. You may consider: the risk of infection in the uterus lining or at the incision site, a greater loss of blood, the development of blood clots, longer recovery time (both in hospital and potentially when you return home) and a reaction to the anaesthetic . Pending your particular situation, this list may be extended to cover a series of other implications to be aware of. Talk to your medical practitioner to learn more.

How To Prepare

If you’re heading in for an elective cesarean you may like to consider;

  • A chat with your OBGYN about fasting requirements. Usually women are required to fast for up to six hours prior to the procedure.
  • Due to your healing but sore abdomen wound following birth, you’ll be unable to move freely for a period of time. It’s a good idea to give your partner, your birth support person and/or your family and friends a list of comforting items you wish to have within arms reach at the hospital.
  • You’ll be unable to drive for a period of time post birth, so it may be wise to pop some logistical plans in place for when you return home. Especially for women who have other children.
  • A list of questions for your OBGYN, followed by an open and honest conversation before labour. While it’s a safe and common procedure, a cesarean is still a major abdominal surgery so any nerves you feel are totally to be expected. Questions might include; will I feel any pain or physical sensation? When will I have lower body sensation back? When can I walk? Will I hear anything unusual? What happens if my birth partner faints? Will the baby be laid on my chest as soon as they’re born? Can I play music? Perhaps aim to have this conversation prior to week 36, even if you’re planning for a vaginal delivery just so you’re prepared.

What To Pack in Your Hospital Bag

  • Comfortable underwear that are not overly restricting. Cotton or bamboo fabrics are great as you don’t want uncomfortable textures irritating the skin around the wound
  • Disposable underwear and maternity pads. Despite not having a vaginal delivery, your body will still need to vaginally expel leftover mucus, tissue and blood.
  • Bike shorts for added support around the abdomen. The SRC Recovery Shorts or the Patented Mary Coretech Injury Recovery And Postpartum Compression Shorts are both fabulous options as they’re distinctly designed for this exact purpose … birth!
  • Loose fitting pyjamas or tees’s for general comfort during your hospital stay.
  • A robe that allows you to comfortably nurse or cover up if unexpected visitors pop by unannounced (Side Note But Crucial: you have just had a baby! Let your family and friends know your stance on hospital pop-ins!
  • The hospital may supply them, but pack compression socks if you feel more comfortable wearing your own. Just check with your OBGYN that they are adequate in terms of their compression ability.
  • Iron and fibre rich snacks such as oat, nut and seed bars. The iron focus here is to address the blood lost during surgery and the fibre focus is to combat potential constipation. Constipation is common after birth due to pain medications, prenatal supplements and reduced mobility during recovery in the case of a cesarean.
  • A water bottle! A big, big water bottle! Just like any other physically demanding activity, hydration is vital. Keep it close.

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