Having a baby of her own and giving birth is nothing less than magical for any woman. Yet, there’s no denying that this magical process can come with a few of its own risks. Let’s admit, those of us who are mothers already – haven’t we all freaked out at the very thought of labor pains? And then, there were some of us with certain complications and lost our sleep over the type of birth we’ll end up with.
A majority of us would prefer to have a normal delivery, especially if we wish to have more than one child. However, despite the best efforts, what will transpire in the labor room is quite unpredictable. Often, cesarean surgery is performed due to medical complications. But, does that mean that a woman with a C-section cannot have more babies? If yes, how many can she have? Do frequent C-sections pose a health risk to expectant moms? Let’s discuss them below:
C-section Risk Factors And Recovery
Just like how every woman and her pregnancy journey can be different, so is the type of birth and recovery rate. Some women might take a long time to recover after a C-section surgery whereas others might get back on their feet in a few weeks. Yet, there are some for whom C-section hardly seems to make a difference. A lot depends on your physical health and lifestyle before and during your pregnancy as well. Going by this logic, most women might be able to have another child after giving birth via C-section the previous time. There is no fixed number of repeat C-sections that are considered safe for a woman to have. However, it is believed that each C-section can result in an increase in complications compared to the previous ones (1).
Here are some of the complications associated with repeat C-sections:
Bowel and bladder injuries: After a 3rd C-section delivery, the risk of bladder injury increases to more than 1 percent. This increase in the risk is most likely a result of the bands of scar-like tissues/adhesions that develop after a previous cesarean section. These scar-like tissues bind the uterus and the bladder. Post-op adhesions can cause obstruction to the small bowel as well (2).
Heavy bleeding: Any C-section delivery usually results in heavy bleeding due to the surgical process involved. However, researchers believe that after a third C-section delivery, the risk of surgical removal of the uterus might increase. This surgery requires blood transfusion and is often done to control the life-threatening amount of bleeding. All of these risks increase to more than one percent after the third cesarean surgery (3).
Placental problems: More the number of repeat C-sections, higher the risk of you developing placental issues. One of the problems is placenta accreta wherein the placenta implants too deep inside the uterine wall. Placenta previa, where the placenta covers the cervical opening either partially or completely, is another risk that increases with the increase in the number of repeat cesarean surgeries (4).
If you’ve undergone a C-section surgery previously, your doctor will usually conduct frequent ultrasounds to check for the location of your placenta for the subsequent pregnancies.
Womb Scarring: Although it isn’t very common, frequent C-section surgeries might cause the scar on your womb to open up (5).
Infections: Infection to the surgical cut is a common complication of C-section surgery. Women are often given antibiotics before the surgery to decrease the chances of infection to the wound (6). However, frequent use of antibiotics has often been linked to the destruction of not only infection-causing bacteria but also the beneficial bacteria inside our gut. This can significantly alter the gut microbiome and can weaken the immune system (7).
Vaginal and C-section deliveries can both come with their own set of complications. Thus, deciding the number of deliveries or children you wish to have can be a difficult task. So, make sure you have a detailed discussion with your doctor before going ahead with planning another baby.