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What are the Most Common C-Section Complications?

By Alex Paul
Updated May 17, 2024
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Giving birth via a Caesarean section (C-section) is usually safe for the mother and child, although there is always the chance of complications. Some of the most common C-section complications include bleeding, constipation, and painful adhesions caused by scarring. There are also potentially serious complications such as infection, organ damage, and reaction to the anesthetic. In rare cases, the baby might be injured during the operation or delivered too early by accident.

There are a number of minor C-section complications that could occur during or after the operation including a small amount of bleeding, urinary tract infections, nausea, and constipation. Minor infections could affect either the mother or child and need to be monitored closely. As long as the healthcare practitioners are made aware of these problems, they can usually be treated relatively easily. Any complication could increase the amount of time that the mother and baby have to stay in hospital, however.

Adhesions, which are areas of scar tissue, form after any type of surgery and are the body’s way of healing a wound. One of the most common C-section complications occurs when these adhesions abnormally form around the pelvis. This can cause pain because the adhesions limit the movement of organs. More serious consequences can occur if the bowel becomes obstructed; in some cases, adhesions can cause infertility, although this is rare.

Giving birth by C-section is usually considered to be relatively safe, although there is always the chance of major C-section complications to both the mother and baby. These complications can be made more likely by the mother’s health. If, for example, the mother has diabetes, the risk of serious C-section complications can increase.

Some examples of major C-section complications include a large amount of bleeding during the surgery and severe infections. There is also a chance of organ damage. Damage to the intestines, for example, can occur if a small hole is accidentally made in its lining. Other serious complications include damage to nerves, injuries to blood vessels, and reactions to anesthesia.

There are also potential complications for the child. If, for example, the baby’s due date has been calculated incorrectly, it may develop breathing problems. There is also the chance that the child could be injured during the C-section or that it needs to be placed in intensive care after the operation. These complications are rare, but are potentially serious if not monitored and treated correctly.

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Discussion Comments

By Wisedly33 — On Sep 12, 2014

@Scrbblchick -- I've seen this before. I think it's one of the great unspoken complications of a c section, and that doctors ought to go to great lengths to reassure their patients that they are not inferior women or mothers because they had a c section to have their baby.

I'm glad your friend went to counseling. Maybe it ought to be offered to all moms who have a c section, so they can talk about their feelings and experiences. I think it would be a great idea, and might prevent future problems.

By Scrbblchick — On Sep 11, 2014

Another complication of a c section is that the procedure might prevent a woman from ever giving birth vaginally. It doesn't always happen that way, but some women are advised by their obstetrician that they shouldn't try for a vaginal birth after a c section.

I have a friend who had a c section. It was not planned. She had been in labor for many hours, the baby wasn't moving forward through the birth canal, and no medications had helped. He was starting to show significant fetal distress, so the doctor did the c section.

Something about it messed with her brain, though. Somehow, she had convinced herself there was something not quite legitimate about her birth experience because she had a c section rather than delivering vaginally. She had to go to counseling for the depression.

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