Vaginal deliveries are not as common as they once were. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.3 million babies are delivered by a cesarean delivery (C-section) in the United States each year. That is roughly one in every three babies born. However, C-sections carry much higher risks for mothers and babies than vaginal births.
Some of the most common risks associated with a C-section delivery include:
Bleeding: Women can lose up to one quart of blood during a C-section, and even more in the days and weeks that follow. To gain access to the baby in a C-section, doctors must cut through major blood vessels to open the walls of the uterus. This can result in postpartum hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding, within one-day to 12-weeks after giving birth.
Infections: Women who notice a severe fever or abdominal pain after a C-section likely have an infection in their incision. These infections can quickly spread to other parts of the body, such as your internal organs. The bacteria in a C-section wound can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal if you do not get proper treatment.
Blood clots: Blood clots are one of the leading causes of death among pregnant women. In C-sections, blot clots can form in the woman’s pelvic area or legs. From there, bacteria can travel to different parts of the body, possibly resulting in a pulmonary embolism or stroke. Doctors have found that obese women are at a much higher risk of developing a blood clot after a C-section.
If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about the risks of a C-section delivery and what you can do to prevent them.