Not every woman undergoes a traditional vaginal delivery with the birth of her child. Under conditions of fetal or maternal distress, or in the case of breech presentation (when a baby is turned feet first at the time of delivery), or if the woman’s first baby was born by cesarean delivery, a procedure called a cesarean section may be required.

During a cesarean, a doctor will make either a lateral incision in the skin just above the pubic hair line, or a vertical incision below the navel. As the incision is made, blood vessels are cauterized to slow bleeding.  After cutting through the skin, fat, and muscle of the abdomen, the membrane that covers the internal organs is opened, exposing the bladder and uterus. At this time the physician will generally insert his or her hands into the pelvis in order to determine the position of the baby and the placenta. Next, an incision is made into the uterus and any remaining fluids are suctioned from the uterus. 

The doctor then enlarges the incision with his or her fingers. The baby’s head is then grasped and gently pulled with the rest of its body from the mother’s uterus. Finally, the abdominal layers are sewn together in the reverse order that they were cut. The mother is allowed to recover for approximately three to five days in the hospital.  She will also be quite sore and restricted from activity for the following several weeks.

There are several potential complications associated with this procedure that should be discussed with a doctor prior to surgery.