What exactly IS a C-section (and why would I need one)?

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You’ve heard the term ‘C-section’ before. You kinda – maybe – know what it is. Except, well, you also know nothing about it. 

Cue the nail-biting.

C-sections have a bit of a reputation in the birthing world. But what’s the truth and what’s a myth? 

In this article, we’ll debunk C-section mythology and reveal what a C-section is and in what situation(s) you might need it, we’ll cover: 

  • What is a C-section
  • When might you need a C-section
  • Our thoughts on C-sections
  • What happens after a C-section

What is a C-section?

Here’s a fun history fact for you: C-sections are named after the reported surgical birth of Julius Caesar*. Yep, the dictator guy with the chariots and conquests. 

The key words there aren’t ‘chariots and conquests’, but ‘surgical birth’, which is exactly what a C-section is. 

In a C-section, you’ll receive an epidural to numb the lower half of your body. This means you’ll be awake, but you won’t experience pain. Tugging and pulling, yes. But not pain. The only exception to this is in emergency situations, where you might go under general anaesthetic and won’t be conscious for the surgery.

Once your anaesthesia has kicked in, you’ll be hooked up with a catheter (to collect your urine) and IV to deliver medicine and fluids. 

After that, your obstetrician will make an incision in your tummy (normally across the pubic hair line), then cut through the uterus so that your baby can be delivered. 

No mystery. No magic. Just pure, amazing science and medicine. 

Psst – one in three births in Australia is via C-section!

When might you need a C-section?

C-sections may be needed if:

  • The baby is in distress during delivery. 
  • The baby is in breech. 
  • There’s a case of placenta previa (which occurs when the placenta – which is the nutrition and blood supply to the uterus – is sitting over the cervix/birth canal). 
  • There are multiple births. 
  • If there’s a prolapsed umbilical cord (cord prolapse is when the umbilical cord slips out of the cervix before the baby).
  • You have a history of a previous C-section. 

Our thoughts on C-sections

We’re in favour of whatever results in the happiest, healthiest versions of you and your baby. Simple. 

And while you might prepare for a vaginal delivery and feel gypped if you end up with a C-section, keep in mind that being in the position where you even have access to amazing medical care to receive a C-section when you really need one is an incredible gift. 

What happens after a C-section?

It typically takes longer to recover from a C-section than from vaginal birth. After you’ve had a C-section, you’ll need to follow the post-op protocol. 

Generally, this is: 

  • Don’t lift anything greater than the weight of your baby.
  • Don’t drive for six weeks. 
  • Don’t swim (there’s an increased risk of wound infection). 

Your OB or midwife will consult with you for your specific post-op instructions. 

And, remember, that a great way to enhance scar healing to leave steri-strips or a silicon gel strip on the wound. This helps the scar tissue to remodel optimally and avoids keloid scarring. 

For more free content on pregnancy, birthing and beyond, be sure to hang out with us on Instagram @bodybeyondbirth!

*Another fun (if random) fact. The Caesar salad is NOT named after Julius Caesar! It’s actually named after Italian-American restaurateur, Caesar Cardini. 

Want to read more about pregnancy, and all things prenatal & postnatal? Check out our other articles here!