The Emergency Myth

Many people think an emergency caesarean section means there’s something drastically wrong and involves a big rush to the operating room, but that’s not always the case. Eve Health obstetrician Dr Paul Conaghan sets the record straight on the “emergency  myth”.

The truth is, in most emergency instances, we usually have time to discuss our planned course of action with the mum and dad. An emergency caesarean is, really, any unplanned caesarean.

Childbirth is quite unpredictable and my job as the obstetrician is to ensure the safe delivery of your baby. But in doing that, I will also make sure of the mother’s wellbeing, keeping in mind her hopes and wishes for the manner of birth. If you didn’t want a caesarean and there’s no medical reason for one, I – or any other good doctor – won’t perform one.

It should only become an option if the labour fails to progress or if you or baby become distressed. This could be caused by a range of problems including the position of the baby, frequency of contractions or even the shape of the pelvis. If that’s the case then we’ll take the time to discuss the situation and try to explore new options to ensure you don’t become exhausted or further distressed.

Recently I was involved in a delivery where everything was progressing but the mother stopped dilating at 8cm despite contracting really well. Although we could have considered giving her more time to try and dilate further naturally, I had a long discussion with mum and dad about the increasing likelihood that vaginal birth was not going to be possible.

Between us we decided that a caesarean section was a better option. The mother was exhausted by this point so to hear that an end was in sight made it an easier experience for everyone involved. The outcome in this instance was extremely positive and even though she had hoped for a normal birth, she was happy that we had done everything possible to achieve that.

It was great that we were delivering the baby in the Mater Hospital too, as they are equipped to accommodate these situations. Knowing they have prepped theatres and a highly capable delivery team ready means minimal delays and a safe delivery environment. It’s extremely reassuring to know that I have a high level of emergency care readily available at the Mater, including the amazingly capable anaesthetic and paediatric teams.

We won’t suggest a caesarean unless it’s absolutely necessary for many reasons but mainly because the recovery can often be slow and unpleasant. You may struggle to do simple things such as getting out of bed and lifting your baby in and out of a cot. It may take 4-6 weeks for you to feel back to normal.

This post was written by Dr Paul Conaghan, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Eve Health.

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