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What are the Pros and Cons of a Second C-Section?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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A second c-section delivery, also known as a cesarean section, has significant benefits and risks for both mother and baby. A second c-section can be the safest option for a woman who wants to avoid the possibility of her uterine scar rupturing during labor, which can cause severe complications for both the pregnant woman and her baby or for a woman who lives in an area where hospitals are unable to perform very quick crash c-sections. Many women wish to avoid a second c-section for some significant reasons, including faster recovery time, the preservation of the ability to safely carry future pregnancies, and avoidance of another surgery and its attendant risks.

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The c-section procedure is major abdominal surgery in which a woman's abdomen and uterus are cut open to deliver her baby. While this surgery is commonly performed and has a high success rate, there are risks involved, including those of infection, bad reactions to anesthesia, and problems with healing. In addition, it is stressful for new mothers to recover from surgery while at the same time adjusting to their new baby. Some women also feel cheated by not being able to deliver vaginally and may not be able to breast feed or hold their babies right after they deliver. By delivering a subsequent pregnancy vaginally, sometimes known as a VBAC or vaginal birth after cesarean, a woman can avoid these risks, as well as prevent further scarring to her uterus, which can affect additional pregnancies.

Not all women are able to deliver vaginally after a c-section, even if a vaginal birth is planned and attempted. If a woman is carrying a high-risk pregnancy, her baby is very large, or the baby is in any other position than head down, a second c-section may be the safest option. If a pregnant woman has a scar from a previous c-section on a part of her uterus that is thin and vulnerable to rupture, a second c-section may also not be in her best interests. Women and their doctors should also consider the capabilities of their local medical facilities. While some hospitals are well prepared to intervene with a c-section during a troubled delivery, others may not be able to respond quickly enough in a situation where a woman's previous c-section scar ruptures or another, unexpected complication occurs. If complications do occur under such circumstances, any delay could be deadly to mother, child, or both.

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