Types of Cesarean Sections

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C-Sections. Some are planned, some are urgent and some are for life or death, but what they all have in common is incredibly brave women showing true sacrifice to allow their bodies to be surgically opened to allow their baby earth side. 

During a cesarean birth, a mother will give birth to her baby through a surgical incision made via her abdomen and then her uterus. She will need to be completely numb for this surgery which would mean the use of a strong epidural or a spinal anesthesia medication and some may need complete general anesthesia which means being put to sleep. 

Nerves, fear, anxiety, excitement, & joy are all common emotions when a mother lays on the surgical table. A drape is placed in front of their face, the doctors begin the surgery and very shortly their sweet baby is out. The nerves lessen and the joy heightens. 

Reasons for a mother may have a C-section

1. An elective cesarean also known as the planned cesarean. 

This type of birth experience is usually decided by the parents and the medical provider before labor has even begun. This may be because of a sub optimal vaginal birthing position like a breech or transverse position, baby’s size, mom is pregnant with multiple babies or simply if the mother thinks that this is the best route for her and her birthing journey. 

2. A non-elective cesarean birth or unplanned cesarean. 

This type of birth is where labor has already begun and the family was planning to have a vaginal birth, but will need to give birth via cesarean instead. Usually a circumstance has happened where a vaginal birth is now not possible or not in the best interest of mom or baby. 

Typically with a non-elective cesarean that is not chosen because of any harm to mom or baby, a mom can choose to have a strong epidural or a spinal block be placed so she can be fully awake and experience her baby’s first cry and even do skin to skin with her baby very quickly after birth. Dad typically is still able to be with mom the entire time. 

3. An urgent or emergent unplanned cesarean. 

While this birth outcome is still unplanned, it requires more of a quicker action to take place. Mom and or baby may be in some form of danger, and the medical team will react quickly to the needs that are occurring . Their ultimate goal is to keep everyone safe. 

This may mean, mom is not awake for her baby’s birth, but not always the case. If mom already has an epidural placed, the anesthesiologist may be able to bolus or dose higher to get that very numb feeling for the surgery. 

However, if mom is unable to be awake, the anesthesiologist will give mom general anesthesia that will put mom to sleep while the medical team will deliver the baby quickly. Moms will wake up in recovery and be able to care for their baby’s usually right away. A general anesthesia cesarean birth is the least common cesarean birth. 

C-sections  typically get a bad rap but they can be wonderful when you either desire them or need them for safety for you and your baby. Generally the rule of thumb is that you would want your provider to have a C-section rate less than 15% of their birthing population but in the United States it’s typically closer to 33%.

I personally have had two c-sections and one VBA2C (Vaginal birth after 2 cesareans) and I am able to use my experience to help support our client with concerns, worry and even joy about their c-sections. One thing, I want everyone to know, is a c-section is 100% still giving birth. Whether your child is born vaginally or via c-section, you have a birth experience to share, process and be imprinted by. 

What questions do you have about cesarean births or vbacs? We would love for you to share your experiences with us. We want to know what was the best part about your birthing story. 

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