Birthing options: Hospital with caesarean section
Name: Hospital with caesarean section
What it is and how it works:
Even though vaginal delivery is the typical way to give birth, a caesarean section (which involves an incision being made across the abdomen and the baby getting delivered through the skin after the womb is opened) is sometimes performed.
The whole procedure takes about 20-30 minutes, and an epidural is administered for the pain. There are many reasons for planned c-sections, which take place one-to-two weeks before the due date, from a low-lying placenta to a breech-positioned baby. A minority of women also elect to have c-sections for no medical reason and complications during labour may mean that the mother has to undergo an emergency c-section performed at short notice.
What are the benefits:
If vaginal delivery is deemed dangerous to baby or mother, then a c-section will be performed, but doctors and midwives are quick to caution that it shouldn’t be considered a go-to option unless necessary. Those who have c-sections may benefit from not undergoing episiotomies or vaginal tearing.
What are the negatives: While a c-section is considered safe nowadays, it is important to remember that it is still a major operation which carries risks including heavy bleeding during surgery and afterwards, the threat of infection, and the potential for blood clots to develop. In addition, it takes about six weeks to recover from a c-section and patients are advised not to do any heavy lifting or driving during this period.
Are there cost implications?: If you need an emergency Caesarean and are planning to have your child at an NHS hospital, you won’t be charged. However, if you are considering private care, the cost of a c-section will set you back thousands of pounds (at London’s Portland Hospital, the procedure ranges from £5,100 to £6,300 for an elective c-section plus one night stay -- and women are often required to remain in hospital for up to six days after the surgery).
Available on private/NHS/both?
Elective c-section (for non-medical reasons) is only available privately, while emergency and planned c-sections (for medical reasons) are available at NHS hospitals as well.
Expert opinion/testimonial comment:
Caroline Flint, midwife, The Birth Centre
'This is a major abdominal operation and you lose a lot more blood than with a normal birth. It leaves you feeling very washed out for a very long time and it’s not an easy option. It takes several months to recover from completely.'
Dr Pat O’Brien, obstetrician, University College London Hospitals
'Half of c-sections are unplanned and half are emergency c-sections which happen in labour. Most planned c-sections are for medical reasons, a small percentage are maternal requests, meaning no medical reason. A planned c-section is a very safe operation nowadays. It takes about six weeks to recover fully and carries a bit more risk for the mum than a normal birth.'
Image © Hemera