Cesarean Section - Risks and Complications
Cesarean section is considered relatively safe. But it does pose a higher
risk of some complications than does a vaginal delivery. If you have a cesarean
section, expect a longer recovery time than you would have after a vaginal
After cesarean section, the most common complications
for the mother are:
- Heavy blood
- A blood clot in the legs or lungs.
- Nausea, vomiting, and severe headache after the delivery (related
to anesthesia and the abdominal procedure).
- Bowel problems, such as constipation or when the intestines stop moving waste material normally (ileus).
- Injury to another organ (such as the bladder). This can occur during surgery.
- Maternal death (very
rare). About 2 in 100,000 cesareans result in maternal death.1
Cesarean risks for the infant include:
- Injury during the delivery.
for special care in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).3
- Immature lungs and breathing problems, if the due date has been
miscalculated or the infant is delivered before
39 weeks of gestation.3, 4
While most women recover from both cesarean and vaginal
births without complications, it takes more time and special care to heal from
cesarean section, which is a major surgery. Women who have a cesarean section
without complications spend about 3 days in the hospital, compared with about 2
days for women who deliver vaginally. Full recovery after a cesarean delivery
takes 4 to 6 weeks. Full recovery after a vaginal delivery takes about 1 to 2
Long-term risks of cesarean section
Women who have
a uterine cesarean scar have slightly higher long-term risks. These risks,
which increase with each additional cesarean delivery, include:5