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Caesarean rates at public hospitals tend to be lower than at private 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 a support person with you, unless there are serious complications or you need a general anaesthetic.

Pregnancy care and caesareans

If you’re in midwifery group practice (caseload midwifery), you’ll know the midwives who look after you during and after your caesarean. Otherwise, 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 or during your labour.

After a caesarean

After the birth, midwives will care for you. You’ll stay around 3-5 days in hospital. In some hospitals you can choose to go home early and have your follow-up care at home. You can read more about recovery after caesarean.

Depending on your family situation, a small number of hospitals offer free or low-cost home help with general cleaning and shopping for a few weeks after you go home. Ask the midwife about what your hospital offers.

Important information about caesareans

Some women believe that caesarean birth is ‘easier’ or less painful than labour. But 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 other daily activities for at least 4-6 weeks. Having a caesarean might 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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