A Cesarean Section, or C-section, is a major surgical procedure used to deliver a baby. The mother is usually given epidural anesthesia in her back to numb the lower half of her body, so she is awake for the procedure. Usually there is a curtain between her upper and lower half, but I have actually heard of a woman who caught her own baby during her C-section! It didn't occur to me that this would ever be allowed, let alone that a woman would WANT to see her own body cut open.
As opposed to:
Here is a Medical Animation that describes what a C-section is and situations that may require one. This is not a graphic video at all. If you want to see what it actually looks like when the surgeon cuts into the body and pulls the baby out, there are plenty on YouTube!
Thank goodness for emergency C-sections, which can save the lives of babies and mothers in very serious situations.
Not all C-sections are emergency C-sections, however. Scheduling a Cesarean may seem convenient, but the recovery period is a lot longer than for a vaginal birth, which can be challenging when your new baby needs you constantly.
Also, having a Cesarean before labor begins on its own increases the chance that a baby will be born premature (as due dates are merely estimates and can be wrong) and will have initial breathing problems (having not gone through the physiologic aspects of vaginal birth that help the newborn, such as being squeezed through the birth canal).
When cesarean is elective with no emergency present, the woman's chance of dying from the procedure it self is nearly three times that of a vaginal birth.
An unnecesarean may also be hard on the mother emotionally.
Furthermore, if you have a Cesarean once you are more than likely to have a repeat Cesarean with later children, and this is associated with very serious risks for the mother. With each additional cesarean the risk of health issues for the mother are increased.
To read more about the risks of multiple Cesareans, I suggest a past entry I wrote on VBACs.