In today’s world, having a C-section during childbirth has become ubiquitous. Many mothers are now more comfortable with the idea of undergoing a C-section as compared to women a decade ago. A cesarean section, occasionally referred to as a C-section, is a form of childbirth where an incision is made in the mother’s uterus and belly in order to deliver the child (1). It is very likely that the mother will be awake throughout the entire procedure and be able to witness the birth of her child. Doctors usually suggest that mothers give birth the natural way (through the vaginal canal). However, there are times where the doctor must perform a C-section due to complications in order to save the mother or child.
Since the amount of pain the mother feels during a C-section is a lot lower than the pain she feels during a natural birth, mothers prefer opting for a C-section. Women who deliver their first baby by a C-section have a 90% chance of delivering their next child by a C-section as well.
How Many C-sections Can Mothers Have Without Any Risk?
There is no specific answer to this question. Doctors believe that the number of C-sections that a mother can have without any complications differs from one person to another. You may face complications during your very first C-section, or you may not have any problems even after 3 C-sections. One thing that all doctors seem to agree on is the fact that the level of risk for a mother increases after every C-section that she has.
According to Dr. Marra Francis, a Gynecologist-Obstetrician in The Woodlands, Texas, “Typically, one or two cesareans do not have any significantly increased risks to either mother or baby.”
Furthermore, Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D., believes that the level of risk increases significantly during the third C-section. However, this does not mean that there are a specific number of ‘safe’ cesareans for a mother to have.
Why Are Multiple Cesareans Bad For You?
Below are some of the risks related to having repeated C-sections:
Each time that you undergo a C-section, you develop scars on your belly at the site of the incision. Having repeated C-sections causes the skin on this region to become extremely dense due to the multiple adhesions. This causes it to become difficult to undergo a C-section in the future due to the difficulty of making another incision in this region of your body. Having multiple cesareans makes it more difficult for doctors to carry out the procedure, prolonging the time for the baby to be delivered.
2. Bowel And Bladder Injuries
It is highly uncommon for you to suffer from bladder/bowel injuries after your first C-section. However, the probability of such problems increases with repeated C-sections. This is due to the fact that having multiple C-sections causes your body to create adhesions at the sit of the incision. The internal adhesions may cause your uterus to bind with your bladder, causing bladder injuries. Sometimes, this may also lead to obstructions within your bowels.
3. Heavy Bleeding
It is possible that you may suffer from heavy bleeding during your first C-section. However, the level of risk increases as you undergo repeated C-sections. Your chances of needing a hysterectomy also increase after each C-section. A hysterectomy is an operation wherein the woman’s uterus needs to be removed in order to control heavy bleeding that could lead to the loss of life (2).
4. Problems With The Placenta
The greater the number of C-sections you have, the greater is the risk for you to develop complications with your placenta. This can cause problems with delivering the child. For instance, placenta accrete is a condition wherein the placenta implants very deep into the uterine wall. The chances of this condition occurring increase significantly with multiple C-sections. Another condition, referred to as placenta previa, causes the placenta to cover up the opening of the cervix. Once again, the chances of this condition occurring increase significantly with each C-section.
Although having multiple cesareans may lead to complications, you should not be worried too much as the probability of these complications occurring is still under 2-3% even after multiple C-sections. Sometimes, it may be necessary to undergo a C-section in order to avoid other complications that can put the mother or the baby’s life in danger.
Both natural and cesarean deliveries have their benefits and drawbacks. It is difficult to choose between a natural and C-section birth, especially if you have already undergone a C-section in the past. You must consult your gynecologist in order to have a better idea of each form of birth before making a decision.