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7 Potential Complications of Cesarean Delivery

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 20, 2023

7 Potential Complications of Cesarean Delivery

Cesarean section, also called C-section, is a surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through an incision made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Like any other surgery, a C-section involves some risks and complications. It’s important to know what Cesarean section complications are so that together with your doctor, you can make an informed decision about whether or not this delivery method is right for you.

Below are the potential cesarean section complications:

1. Severe Blood Loss

Severe blood loss during cesarean section is a rare but serious complication. The average blood loss during the surgical procedure is 500 milliliters (ml), but it can be much higher in some cases, which might require blood transfusion as treatment.

2. Blood Clots

Surgeries, including Cesarean section, can increase your risk of developing blood clots. Experts explain that the body’s response to an operation is to heal itself. This includes increasing its ability to coagulate blood. Blood clots can cause stroke, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung), heart attack, or deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the leg).

3. Infection

One of the common Cesarean section complications is infection, which can develop at the surgical incision site itself. To reduce the risk of infection, your doctor will disinfect your skin before making the cut and make sure that all surgical instruments are sterilized. They also wear sterilized protective equipment (gown, mask, gloves, etc.) to protect you and themselves. Note that infection may also develop in the uterine lining and urinary tract.

After the surgery, the risk of infection is still present, particularly if you don’t keep the incision site clean.

4. Injury to the Bowel or Bladder

One of the possible Cesarean section complications is injury to the bowel or bladder. These injuries can happen during the surgery, but symptoms may manifest while you’re recovering.

If you develop problems with your bowels or bladder after a Cesarean section, tell your doctor right away, so that they can start treatment immediately. Sometimes, damage to these organs will require another surgery.

5. Reaction to Anesthesia or Other Medicine

An allergic reaction to anesthesia is rare, but it can still occur. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and any allergies you have when you schedule a Cesarean section. If you are allergic to certain drugs or if you’ve had an allergic reaction before, the doctor may suggest testing to make sure. Another reason for testing is that some mothers believe that their unpleasant experience following anesthesia is an allergic reaction, when in fact, it may be a side effect.

Likewise, you might react negatively to drugs provided during and after C-section, like pain medicines and antibiotics.

6. Injury to the Baby

A C-section may cause injury to the newborn. These injuries are commonly only nicks or cuts on the skin as the doctor cuts your womb. Most cases are minor and heal without problems.

7. Breathing Problems for the Baby

Reports say babies born via Cesarean section are more likely to experience tachypnea or increased respiratory rate. The good news is that it’s often temporary, only lasting for a couple of days. If your baby has sustained or worsening breathing troubles, please bring them to the doctor right away.

Key Takeaways

It is important to know the risks and potential side effects of a C-section, so that you can make an informed decision about your delivery. If you are unsure of the risks or side effects, it is always best to ask your doctor. Some of the Cesarean section complications you need to contemplate on are severe blood loss, blood clots, infection, injury to the bowel or bladder, injury to the baby, breathing difficulty in babies, and negative reaction to medicines and anesthesia.

Learn more about Labor and Delivery here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 20, 2023

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