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Caesarean rates at private hospitals tend to be higher than at public hospitals. If you want to know what a hospital’s caesarean birth rates are, ask your doctor or midwife. Some hospitals have their caesarean rates available online to the public.

If you’ve had a caesarean before, you might like to talk to your doctor or midwife about vaginal birth after caesarean.

What is a caesarean?

A caesarean is when you have an operation to give birth to your baby. An obstetrician cuts an opening through your lower tummy area and into your uterus, so that your baby and the placenta can be lifted out. A caesarean is also called a caesarean section, a c-section or a caesar.

Who will be there?

There’ll be quite a few people in the operating theatre with you, including an obstetrician, an assistant surgeon, an anaesthetist, several theatre nurses, a midwife and usually a paediatrician. If you’re using private health insurance in a public hospital, you might be able to choose the obstetrician who does the operation.

During preparation and surgery, you can probably have one support person with you, unless there are serious complications or you need a general anaesthetic.

Pregnancy care and caesareans

If you’re having a planned caesarean, you might have some extra appointments and checks with your obstetrician during pregnancy. You’ll see a few different midwives before, during and after your caesarean.

Types of caesarean

You might have a planned caesarean if there are medical reasons to have one.

Unplanned caesareans (emergency caesareans) can happen when there are problems in your pregnancy and during your labour.

After a caesarean

After the birth, midwives will care for you. Your obstetrician will visit and check that you and your baby are OK. You’ll stay around 4-5 days in hospital. If you and your obstetrician are happy, you might be able to go home earlier. You can read more about recovery after caesarean.

Some private hospitals offer home services to help with general cleaning and shopping for a few weeks after you go home. Check to see whether these are covered by your health fund, if you have one.

Important information about caesareans

Some women believe that caesarean birth is ‘easier’ or less painful than labour. But a caesarean is a major operation, with a risk of problems and complications. Your hospital stay and general recovery will be longer than a vaginal birth, and you won’t be able to drive and do some other daily activities for at least 4-6 weeks. Having a caesarean might also complicate future pregnancies. You should only have a caesarean for medical reasons.

Talk with your obstetrician about when and why you’d need a caesarean, and what’s likely to happen in a planned and unplanned caesarean.

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