C-sections are necessary in many pregnancies for reasons that include a breech infant, multiple babies, preeclampsia and uterine ruptures. Often, the procedures go well, with the mother and baby (or babies) in good health afterward. Sometimes, though, a doctor does not make the C-section decision as early as he or she should, and problems can occur. Here is a look at some of the potential issues that might arise with the baby.
To be sure, brain damage is a general term. It often stems from a lack of oxygen, and specific outcomes of brain damage could be cerebral palsy and autism. Of course, there are other ways for an infant to suffer brain damage before, during and after labor. After all, brain damage is not limited to C-sections and can occur with vaginal deliveries.
However, when a doctor wrongly delays a C-section, it could mean an even longer period of time that an infant’s brain is deprived of oxygen. For instance, there are times when a pregnant woman sees her doctor for routine care, and the doctor realizes that her amniotic fluid levels are low. Not every doctor will call for an emergency C-section, and that might end up being a mistake.
Other outcomes of brain damage could be developmental delays, impaired walking and impaired speech. Some outcomes may not be as readily apparent as others for a few years.
A delayed C-section decision can lead to a baby who does not survive the surgery, or who does not live for long afterward. For instance, fetal distress is a reason for many C-sections, and it frequently involves a lack of oxygen. Many times, oxygen problems are indicated by abnormal heart rates, and if measures to address them are ineffective, a C-section is often necessary. If it does not occur fast enough, the lack of oxygen could lead to the baby’s death.
Fetal distress is also possible when a pregnancy has gone on for more than 42 weeks. The longer a pregnancy progresses, the more important it is for a doctor to be aware of signs indicating the need for an emergency C-section.
C-sections are serious surgeries, and as such, they do carry some risks for the baby and mother. For the mother, risks include blood clots, surgical injuries such as bladder cuts, and post-surgery infections such as endometritis. However, doctors should be able to use their good judgment to determine when the usual risks of a C-section outweigh the potential consequences of delaying the surgery.