Cesarean Childbirth (cont.)
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Cesarean Childbirth Complications
A normal vaginal delivery in later pregnancies is often possible, depending on the type of incision that was performed and the reason the birth was performed by cesarean section.
Cesarean childbirth may have these types of complications:
Excessive bleeding: This is the most common complication of a cesarean delivery and may be caused by many different factors.
Infection: The risk of infection of the uterus is up to 20 times greater after cesarean delivery than after vaginal delivery. A number of factors contribute to infection, above and beyond the simple fact that an operation with an incision of the uterus has been performed. Generally, many conditions, such as a prolonged labor course, that often put a woman in a position of requiring a cesarean section may also make her more prone to developing infections.
Clots: Blood clots can form in the pelvis or the leg. If a clot breaks off and travels (embolizes) to the lungs, it can cause death or disability after delivery, whether it is vaginal or cesarean. However, women who undergo cesarean childbirths are much more prone to clots than women who deliver vaginally. Therefore, it is imperative that if you deliver by cesarean section, you must get up and walk within 24 hours after the operation or wear devices to passively massage the lower legs.
Urinary function and bladder injury: Typically, a catheter is inserted into the bladder before the surgery to remove urine. Usually, the catheter is removed within 24 hours after the surgery as soon as the woman is ready to begin walking. Often, some initial pain occurs when urinating - as with vaginal deliveries. However, with a cesarean delivery, damage can occur to the bladder in the course of the surgery.
Bowel function and bowel injury: Typically, bowel function after a cesarean section returns quickly. Return of normal bowel function is usually aided if the woman is aggressive about frequent walking. Sometimes, bowel function does not return normally after cesarean delivery, even without specific damage to the bowel. This is termed postoperative ileus. The causes are many and are not completely understood. In the case of actual bowel injury, the nature and degree of complication depend on the size, severity, and location of the injury. Unrecognized bowel injury can lead to life-threatening illness with severe abdominal pain and fever (usually but not always present in such cases). The incidence of bowel injury, as with bladder injury, is increased if the woman has had other abdominal surgery or infection.
Prolonged hospital stay: After vaginal delivery, the woman is typically free to go home within 48 hours. However, observation after a cesarean section typically runs a minimum of 2 days. If infection, significant bleeding, slow return of bowel and bladder function, or injury to internal organs occurs, the hospital stay can be extended.
Anesthesia and pain medications: Anesthesia for a cesarean section can be delivered by an injection into the spinal fluid (spinal anesthesia), placed via a catheter into the space outside of the spinal fluid but surrounding the spinal column (epidural anesthesia). General anesthesia may also be given; this makes the person completely "asleep."
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/1/2015
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