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Cesarean Childbirth
(C-Section)

Cesarean Childbirth (C-Section) Overview

Cesarean delivery, also known as c-section, is a major abdominal surgery involving two incisions (cuts): One is an incision through the abdominal wall, and the second is an incision involving the uterus to deliver the baby. While at times absolutely necessary, especially in emergencies or for the safety of the mother or the baby, cesarean childbirth is not a procedure to be undertaken lightly by the doctor or the expectant mother. During the surgical delivery, if not an emergency, the woman may be awake but numb from the chest to the legs.

  • History of the C-section: Legend has it that the Roman leader Julius Caesar was delivered by this operation, and the procedure was named after him. However, Caesar's mother lived many years after his birth, and at that time, the operation most likely caused death in the mother. In addition, no mention is made of this procedure prior to the Middle Ages; therefore, Caesar's contribution to the naming of this operation is practically impossible. The most likely origin for the term is in reference to a Roman law created in the 8th century BC that ordered the procedure in the last few weeks of a pregnancy in dying women to save the child's life.
  • Frequency of C-section: The rate for cesarean delivery increased steadily from 4.5% in 1965,  21% in 1998, to 32% in 2007. Overall, with improvements in anesthesia, pain control, and antibacterial techniques, serious complications from birth through cesarean section have fallen dramatically in the last 30 years.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/26/2012
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Cesarean delivery is defined as the delivery of a fetus through a surgical incision through the abdominal wall (laparotomy) and uterine wall (hysterotomy).

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