Childbirth - Cesarean Delivery and Newborn Care

This is the delivery of a baby through an incision in the mother's abdomen.

This is the delivery of a baby through an incision in the mother's abdomen.

A cesarean childbirth (C-section) is the delivery of a baby through an incision in the mother's abdomen.

  • A VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) is a vaginal childbirth by a woman who has had a previous C-section. If a woman has had a previous C-section, it may be possible for her to deliver a future baby vaginally. Whether she can do this depends on the circumstances and type of incision she had during her C-section.

A normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks from the first day of the last menstrual period. A woman's first office visit typically occurs when she is about eight weeks pregnant. A C-section may be done if a vaginal birth is not physically possible or would be too risky for you or your baby. Some reasons you may need a C-section include:

  • Being pregnant with more than one baby
  • Having had a previous surgery on your uterus
  • Your baby has an abnormal heart rate tracing on the monitor that is placed on your abdomen when you are in labor (fetal monitor)
  • Your baby is in the wrong position for birth (feet first, or breech).
  • Sometimes you and your doctor will decide in advance that you should deliver by C-section. On occasion, a woman plans on a vaginal delivery but circumstances change. The decision for a C-section may be made late in the pregnancy, during labor, or even immediately before birth.

During the surgery, you will be numb from the chest down. You will probably be awake, so you can see your baby when he or she is born. Recovery from a C-section takes a little longer than recovery from a vaginal birth. Therefore, you will need to spend a few days in the hospital.

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, it may be helpful to decide:

  • Where do you want to deliver your baby? You will need to decide on a hospital.
  • Whom do you want to care for your newborn; a pediatrician or your family doctor? Either healthcare provider can provide a newborns care. It may be helpful to meet the person you choose before the delivery.
  • If you and your doctor decide to attempt a VBAC, make sure you decide on a birthing plan (a plan that outlines what you want to happen, or not happen, during labor and delivery).
  • If you have a C-section, you should plan for help at home after you are discharged.
  • If you plan on nursing, who will be available to help you while you are in the hospital?
  • If your baby is a boy, do you want him circumcised? If you are undecided, who will help you to decide?


Also known as:

C-section Childbirth
Cesarean Childbirth
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