Approximately one pregnant woman in eight makes a caesarean section. The reasons can be both physiological complications, and simply unwillingness to go through natural childbirth. More and more children around the world are being born with the help of a cesarean section, and this surgery has become well-established and is generally considered safe. However, like any other surgery, it has its own risks, which should be studied before opting for surgery instead of natural childbirth. So, what are C-section complications?
Caesarean section (C-Section) is a surgery involving the delivery and extraction of the fetus artificially, through an incision in the abdominal wall and the wall of the uterus. This surgery has some advantages over natural childbirth. First, if a planned C-section is performed, you know the exact date of the birth of the baby. Secondly, with the approach of the end of the term, anxiety will not increase. After all, you will not have to endure labor and pain. Thirdly, you will be protected from bleeding, stitches in the perineum, muscle sprains, urinary incontinence, etc. But is everything as simple as it seems at first glance? In fact, there are a lot of C-section complications and many of them are dangerous.
The outcome of a cesarean section, like any other surgical intervention in the human body, is unpredictable and highly individual. Most often, professionalism and high competence of medical staff, as well as good care in the postoperative period, make it possible to avoid complications. However, there are exceptions to any rule. So, every woman who has or will go through a cesarean section should know the symptoms of C-section complications in order to prevent undesirable consequences in time.
Caesarean section is a serious abdominal surgery, which is always associated with the risk of postoperative complications. Conventionally, complications can be divided into early (occurring during the surgery or immediately after it) and late (developing over time, from several days to several weeks after cesarean section).
Depending on the location of the pathological process, the following C-section complications are distinguished:
- on the internal organs;
- on operating sutures;
- associated with the use of anesthesia.
C-Section Complications on Internal Organs
High Blood Loss
This is the most common type of complication, it occurs for a completely natural reason – as a result of tissue incision. If approximately 250 ml of blood is lost during vaginal delivery, the surgery implies a higher blood loss. Sometimes the amount of lost blood is reaching 1 liter. The beginning of severe bleeding is possible due to various pathologies of the placenta and adhesions after previous interventions.
Lost blood must be compensated artificially, as it will be difficult for the body to cope with this task on its own. To do this, immediately after artificial delivery, a woman is given an IV line that supplies the body with blood-replacement drugs.
Adhesions are fibrous bands that form between tissues and organs. Despite the fact that adhesions are formed in order to protect the body from purulent inflammation, a large number of them often lead to disruption of the normal functions of many organs. In fact, any surgical intervention ends with adhesions, but more often they remain harmless. In rare cases, their formation leads to adhesive disease, as a result of which the work of the intestine is disturbed, and there are pains in the abdomen.
It is very difficult to detect adhesions, but everyone can prevent their formation. After leaving the maternity hospital, one needs to undergo physiotherapy, as well as a daily set of special physical exercises. In extreme cases, laparoscopy is indicated, but this is also surgery, after which adhesive disease can occur again.
Violation of Intestinal Peristalsis
After a medical invasion in the human body, the function of the intestine may be impaired. However, most often the intestines return to normal functioning in a fairly short time. Much depends on the course of adhesions. Day regimen, proper nutrition, exercise – all this will provide the young mother with a quick and painless recovery.
Endometritis is considered a particularly severe consequence of cesarean section. During artificial delivery, microbes can enter the uterine cavity along with a large amount of air, which explains the onset of inflammation. The disease can make itself felt right after the surgery or a few days after birth.
The symptoms are the following:
- Lower abdominal pain;
- Chills, high body temperature;
- Sleep is disturbed, appetite disappears, weakness appears;
- Pulse becomes frequent;
- Secretions are brown in color or they contain pus.
To prevent endometritis, a woman should be treated with antibiotics. In order to detect the disease in time, it is necessary to visit the doctor no later than a week after leaving the hospital.
C-Section Complications at the Sutures
Complications on postsurgical sutures can occur in the first days after delivery or develop several months after cesarean section, which allows dividing them into early and late complications.
Early Complications Include:
- Hemorrhages and hematomas. They develop as a result of a violation of suturing techniques or against the background of an injury to a surgical wound, for example, during a dressing change or rough treatment.
- Inflammatory purulent processes. They develop as a result of the use of poor-quality suture material or when an infection got into the surgical wound. Inflammation of the sutures is characterized by a sharp painfulness of the lesion site, swelling, hyperemia of the skin around, and the appearance of discharge with pus.
- Suture line disruption is a rare complication. It develops as a result of increased physical exertion or weight lifting by a woman. It usually occurs about 7-8 days after surgery, after removing the threads.
Late complications at the sutures include the formation of a ligature fistula and an abscess. The disease develops as a result of an infection with the suture material or on the background of the woman’s body rejecting the material from which the threads are made. The treatment of this complication in most cases is carried out surgically.
Anesthesia-Related C-Section Complications
A common complication of spinal anesthesia is severe back pain that occurs as a result of the effect of the medicine on the nerve roots, against the background of which they subsequently become inflamed. A rare complication of local anesthesia is a violation of sensitivity in the lower extremities and paresthesia. Complications of general anesthesia include:
- various pathologies of the cardiovascular system caused by the effects of drugs on the body;
- depression of respiratory function, up to the cessation of breathing;
- the need for a tracheostomy with respiratory arrest;
- the likelihood of developing angioedema or anaphylactic shock;
- aspiration – the ingress of stomach contents into the respiratory tract.
Other Possible C-Section Complications
Damage to internal organs. A cesarean section involves cutting the uterus in the lower third after opening several layers of abdominal tissue. Even if the doctors and nurses are very careful, the operation may touch adjacent organs, such as the bladder or intestines. These injuries are rarely life-threatening but can lead to long-term pain, the subsequent occurrence of adhesions, or even serious disruption of the affected organ.
Injuries to a child. Sometimes a baby gets minor abrasions or cuts during surgery. They usually heal independently and only occasionally need further treatment.
Prevention of C-Section Complications
In order to prevent the development of post-surgical complications, the young mother should follow simple rules:
- get out of bed only after the permission of the doctor and with the help of a nurse;
- do not touch the postoperative wound with your hands so as not to carry the infection into the wound;
- measure the temperature every day;
- do not lift things weighing more than 4 kg in the first 3-4 weeks after cesarean section;
- follow the regular defecation, avoid constipation, as excessive straining during defecation can lead to suture disruption.
- If you notice that the suture after a C-section has reddened, has become sharply painful, or a discharge with an unpleasant smell has appeared, you should immediately inform your doctor.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.