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Births by Caesarian section, also known as c-section births, are often recommended in high-risk birth situations, such as when there are problems with the placenta or when the baby presents in a breech position (feet first). Even when a pregnancy or delivery is not considered high risk, a woman and her doctor may agree to schedule a c-section. These surgeries have become common; almost everyone knows someone who has delivered via c-section, and the Centers for Disease Control report that in 2015, 32% of all births in the United States were by Caesarian section. But just how risky are c-section births?
In contrast with a vaginal birth, in a c-section, a surgeion makes an incision in the mother's abdominal wall and uterus, through which the baby is delivered. Most of the time, this procedure is uneventful, though recovery time is longer than for most vaginal births because a c-section is a surgical procedure (recovery time for a c-section is around 4-6 weeks, compared with 1-2 weeks for a vaginal birth).
Like all surgical procedures, this one carries risks. Performing a c-section when one is not medically indicated, or failing to inform the mother of the risks of a c-section before she consents to one, may constitute medical malpractice.
It is important to understand the risks of a c-section before agreeing to have one if possible; obviously, some c-sections take place in emergency circumstances in which it is not possible to have calm discussions about the pros and cons of the procedure.
The reason many women agree to a c-section in the first place is to protect the health of their baby, such as when labor is prolonged, the baby's vital signs are declining, or the baby is in an atypical position that makes a vaginal delivery undesirable or impossible. They should be aware of potential risks to the baby from the c-section procedure itself. These include:
If mothers are made aware of these potential risks to their baby, they can weigh them against the risks of not having a c-section.
In addition to the risks of a c-section for an infant, there are risks to mothers stemming from a c-section, including:
If you or a loved one has had a c-section and were not informed of the risks, and mother or baby suffered a bad outcome as a result of the procedure, you should consult an experienced STATE medical malpractice attorney. An ethical attorney will never encourage you to pursue a medical malpractice case that doesn't have merit, but if you or your child has suffered injury due to a c-section, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Your time to file a claim is limited, so you have nothing to lose from a free consultation, but a great deal to lose if you don't investigate your rights.