Emergency caesarean section: causes, procedure, risks

In Germany, 30 percent of children are delivered by caesarean section every year. Many of these procedures are planned in advance, but in some cases the circumstances during the birth make a spontaneous, so-called emergency caesarean section necessary. Here you can find out when an emergency caesarean section is performed and how it differs from a planned caesarean section.

When you have a baby, you decide before the birth how you want to bring your child into the world . But even if you decide to have a natural birth and thus rule out an operation, it can happen that a caesarean section becomes necessary during the birth due to complications. This is usually the case when a life-threatening situation develops for you or your unborn child.

Reasons for an emergency caesarean section

The reasons why your child has to be delivered by emergency caesarean section are mostly unpredictable. In some cases, even before the birth, there is a suspicion that there could be complications, but the mother-to-be still wants to try to give birth naturally, i.e. vaginally. If the feared problems then really occur, the child is also delivered by emergency caesarean section. Circumstances that make an unplanned caesarean section necessary may include:

  • acute oxygen starvation of the child
  • Contrary to expectations, the child’s head does not fit through the mother’s pelvis
  • Dropping of the child’s heartbeat
  • labor arrest
  • high blood pressure in the mother
  • premature abruption of the placenta and associated heavy bleeding
  • rupture of the uterus (e.g. after a previous caesarean section)
  • Fever or infection in the mother after the membranes ruptured

What happens during an emergency caesarean section?

If one of the complications mentioned occurs, immediate and rapid action is required on the part of the attending physicians. Obstetricians often only have 20 minutes to prevent permanent damage to the unborn child. The emergency operation therefore often takes place in the delivery room if the necessary aids are available there.

In terms of the procedure, the emergency section usually differs only slightly from that of a planned caesarean section . The three most important differences are:

  • Anesthesia: In the case of a planned caesarean section, a regional anesthesia method is usually used, for example an epidural anesthesia (PDA) . In the case of an emergency caesarean section, the doctors usually switch to general anesthesia, as this begins to take effect more quickly and the operation can be started more quickly.
  • Presence of the partner: During an emergency operation, everything is very hectic. This atmosphere is a great stressful situation for your partner, as the obstetricians are usually no longer able to respond to his questions and fears. In addition, the doctors have to concentrate fully, which makes the presence of an outsider impossible. For these reasons and because your companion cannot provide you with any moral support when you are under general anesthesia, your partner is not present during the emergency caesarean section.
  • Increased risk of injury: The risks that you are exposed to during a caesarean section increase many times over with an emergency caesarean section. Of course, the doctors treating you try to operate as carefully as possible, even in an emergency situation. However, due to the time pressure, emergency caesarean sections lead to bleeding or injuries to neighboring organs such as the bladder or intestines.

The thought of an emergency caesarean section is not nice, especially if you have already decided against a caesarean section. However, if you consider that such an intervention can ensure that you and your child survive the birth healthy, many concerns will surely fall aside.

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