Pregnancy Home > Cesarean Section

A cesarean section is a surgical procedure used to remove the baby from the uterus. During the surgery, an incision is made in the abdomen and uterus, and then the baby is removed from the opening. There are possible complications associated with this procedure, as there are with any surgery; however, it is typically safe and carries a low risk.

What Is Cesarean Section?

Cesarean section (also called a c-section) is the most common major surgery done today. It is performed about 1 million times a year in the United States. In most cases, a cesarean section is a safe method of delivering a baby.
There are different reasons why a woman may have a cesarean section. When the procedure is scheduled ahead of time rather than performed in an emergency situation, it is similar to having a scheduled surgery. Usually, this procedure is scheduled around the time you are 39 weeks pregnant, or when the baby is ready for life outside the womb. It may be done earlier if you have a scar on the upper part of your uterus from a previous c-section.

Understanding Pregnancy

Your uterus, also called your womb, is a pear-shaped organ that rests above the vagina, or birth canal. After you become pregnant, your uterus stretches and expands, along with the growing baby. Your baby grows inside your uterus in a balloon-like sac called the amniotic sac. This sac is filled with amniotic fluid, which is mostly water.
The placenta, which is also known as the afterbirth, is a sponge-like layer between the amniotic sac and the inside of the uterus. It contains two sets of blood vessels: one set from the mother and one from the growing baby. These vessels are close enough that food and oxygen from the mother's blood can easily move to the baby's blood and provide essential nutrients for the baby to grow. The nutrients travel from the placenta to the baby through a blood vessel in the umbilical cord, which enters the baby's navel.
As the baby grows, waste products that are naturally made need to be cleared from the baby's blood. These waste products travel through the baby's blood vessels to the placenta and are then transferred to the mother's blood. The waste products are then eliminated from the mother's body.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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