In many scenarios Cesarean section deliveries are life saving procedures for the infant and sometimes for the mother. But a recent report highlights a growing risk associated with subsequent pregnancies for mothers who have had a prior C-section delivery.
The condition known as placenta accrete occurs when the placenta attaches to scar tissue from a prior c-section delivery. The placenta then attaches too deeply into the uterine wall and can result in severe bleeding during delivery. In some cases the placenta can permeate the uterine wall and attach to other vital organs within the mother's body.
When the condition is detected prior to delivery, the risk of death to the mother is rare. But the delivery often requires several hours in surgery. After the baby is delivered doctors carefully detach the placenta from the uterine walls or other organs. This can involve clamping blood vessels and even inducing focal hypothermia to certain areas to temporarily stop or reduce the blood flow.
While placenta accrete is a serious risk, it is likely not a good reason to forego or avoid a C-section in the first place if it is medically necessary. When a mother or child's life is at risk during labor it is important that the obstetrician know when an emergency C-section is required. Undue delay can put both the mother and child at risk.
Source: Star Ledger "Fatal rare placenta disorder may become more common with modern birthing techniques" Seth Augenstein, April 11, 2011