Cesarean Section: Understanding the Procedure and Risks


When it comes to giving birth, most women would like to deliver vaginally. However, there are instances when a vaginal delivery is either not possible or is not safe for the mother or the baby. In those situations, a cesarean section may be necessary to ensure the wellbeing of both mother and baby.

What is a Cesarean Section?

Commonly known as a “C-section,” a cesarean section is a surgical procedure¬†in which the baby¬†is delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen. The uterus is then entered through the abdominal incision and the baby is delivered.

Why Do Doctors Recommend C-Sections?

There are numerous reasons why your healthcare provider might recommend a cesarean section before you go into labor. It is important to discuss the reason for the recommendation for a cesarean section without labor. It is important to abide by whatever is deemed safest for the baby and mother.

Previous Medical History

One of the reasons a healthcare provider may recommend a cesarean section is because the mother has had previous uterine surgery, such as a surgery to remove fibroids or even a previous cesarean section. Previous surgery causes scar tissue to form at the site of the incision into the muscle fibers of the uterus. Scar tissue is not as strong as muscle fiber, and because of this, the uterus might rupture at the site of the scar with labor contractions or at the time of delivery, which can result in catastrophic consequences for the mother and/or baby.

Condition of the Baby

A cesarean section may be the safest mode of delivery for some pregnancies. If a baby is very large in relation to the mother’s pelvis, if there are abnormalities of the baby’s spine or organs or if there is any reason to believe the baby may not be able to tolerate the stress of labor, a cesarean section without labor may be required.

Emergency C-Sections

It is important to note that there are many situations that can arise during labor that might require an emergency cesarean delivery. These reasons usually are not apparent prior to labor and often develop during labor.

The most urgent reason for a cesarean section to occur, with or without labor, is a mother or baby in distress. In this situation, there is no time to wait for a vaginal delivery to occur. Distress can occur for many reasons. Most importantly, your healthcare provider should have the skills and knowledge to know when your baby is in distress and should possess the ability to deliver your baby quickly and safely.

Time is crucial when a baby is in distress. Therefore, every hospital that has a labor and delivery unit must have the capability to perform an emergency cesarean section 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anesthesia, pediatrics, and nurses trained to handle emergencies must be readily available every day at every hour.

Every pregnant woman should have a discussion with their healthcare provider regarding the services available at the hospital where you plan to deliver your baby. This discussion should include whether pediatric, neonatal, obstetrical, and anesthesia staff remain in the hospital at all times or if they are called in from home when an emergency occurs. It is much safer for the mother and baby to have these professionals in house before an emergency occurs.

What Are the Risks of Having a C-Section?

The risks of having a cesarean section are the risks associated with having major abdominal surgery. They include the following:

  • Bleeding/hemorrhage
  • Lacerations to bladder, bowel, blood vessels and nerves
  • Lacerations/injury to the baby
  • Lack of oxygen to mom and/or baby
  • Risks associated with anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Infections
  • Internal organ damage
  • Death

It is important to remember that cesarean sections are not risk-free surgeries but with proper care, the risks to the mom and baby are minimized. A full discussion with your healthcare provider about the risks to the mom and baby should occur before a cesarean section is performed. Ideally, this discussion should occur during prenatal care in case an emergency cesarean section is needed.

When Can a C-Section Birth Injury Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

There are two main scenarios that involve a C-section that can result in birth injuries that may be considered medical malpractice. One scenario is when a C-section should be performed but is not performed in a timely manner and the other is when the C-section is performed improperly.

  • Failure to perform C-section in a timely manner: Healthcare providers must properly monitor the mother and unborn baby to ensure they are healthy. Doctors, midwives, and nurses are also required to be aware of any signs of distress, complications and other immediate dangers to the mother and child. If there is a sign of distress in either mother or baby or complications arise, a C-section may be immediately necessary. If it is not performed in a timely manner, however, the baby can suffer certain birth injuries, such as brain damage, cerebral palsy and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
  • Failure to recommend a C-section for preexisting conditions: In the case of mothers with uncontrolled diabetes and/or mothers with extraordinarily large babies or babies with congenital malformations, a cesarean section may be deemed necessary to prevent injury to the baby. This should be discussed during prenatal care so a planned cesarean section can be scheduled.
  • Failure to properly perform C-section:¬†If the need for a C-section arises and the doctor does not perform the procedure properly, this is considered a breach¬†the standard of care. If injuries occur from the cesarean section being improperly performed, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed. When a C-section is improperly performed, it can leave devastation in its wake and leave the mom and/or baby with injuries.

If You Have Questions Regarding the Cesarean Birth of Your Child

If you or your baby were injured during labor and/or delivery, you have the legal right to sue. If you or your baby has an injury from labor and/or delivery, you should consult with an experienced nationwide birth injury attorney to determine whether you have a case. If a doctor or other health care professional was negligent during the time of your C-section, you can sue. If the doctor or other health care professional breached their acceptable standard of care, your rights and those of your baby were violated and you have a right to claim compensation for your injuries and damages.

If your child suffered birth injuries, they may have long-term consequences and need a lifetime of medical care.You may be entitled to receive compensation for the injuries you and your baby sustained damages.

Michael H. Bereston is a Nationwide birth injury attorney who is there to protect your best interests and rights. If you or your child suffered injuries during or after a C-section, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact the Law Firm of Michael H. Bereston, Inc. today (410) 220-6581 to discuss your case.

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