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A caesarean section is a procedure where a baby is delivered by cutting through the front wall of your abdomen and opening your womb.
Although there is not officially a limit to the number of caesarean sections you can have, the risk of complications during pregnancy and birth is higher if you have had a caesarean section in the past. The reason for this is when you have a caesarean section a scar is left on your womb where the incision was made. The risk of complications doesn't necessarily get higher if you've had more than one caesarean section.
After a caesarean section the risk of complications in your next pregnancy increases. Although very rare, complications could include:
Placenta praevia- when your baby's placenta attaches near or on the opening of your cervix
Placenta accreta- when your baby's placenta grows in the lining of your womb and through the muscle in your womb
Both of these conditions increase the risk of complications during the birth of the baby such as serious bleeding, shock, and emergency hysterectomy (removal of your womb).
The risk of serious complications as a result of caesarean section is not much higher than that from vaginal births. For example, the risk of stillbirth is 2 in 1000 for women who have never had a caesarean section compared to 4 in 1000 for women who have.
If you have had a caesarean section before, risks to the health of your next baby include:
Low birth weight,
Brain or spinal cord injury
Death of your baby shortly after birth.
If you have had one or more caesarean sections, risks to your own health include:
Placental abruption (when the placenta detaches from your womb before the birth of your baby).
When you give birth, your doctor will take into account:
Your personal preferences and priorities
The overall risks and benefits of caesarean section and natural birth
The risks to you and your baby's health at the time of the birth.
The medical reasons for having a caesarean section far outweigh the potential risks to any future pregnancies, or to the health of you and your baby.
It is sometimes not possible to have a vaginal birth if you have had a caesarean section in the past because of the risk of a uterine rupture (when the scar on your womb tears when you give birth). If you are having a vaginal birth and have had a caesarean section previously your doctor should be prepared to carry out an emergency caesarean section if complications occur.
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