What Happens During a C-Section Delivery?

October 2018

Learn what to expect, ways to prepare, and how to recover with these tips.

A C-section delivery is a surgical procedure where a doctor removes your baby from your uterus.

While vaginal deliveries are the most common, some women require more assistance to ensure a safe and healthy birthing experience. A Cesarean section, or C-section, is one type of assisted delivery that you may be planning for medical reasons. It can also become an unplanned emergency procedure that can help ensure mom and baby’s safety should complications arise during labor.

A C-section delivery is increasingly common. Today, it accounts for 31.9% percent of deliveries in the United States, which is nearly one in three women. Whether or not you’re planning on having a C-section, its sheer prevalence makes it crucial to understand the answers to questions like:

  • What is a C-section delivery?
  • When is a C-section recommended?
  • How can you prepare for C-section delivery?
  • What are some C-section recovery tips?

Below, we’ll take a closer look at the important aspects you should know about a C-section delivery.

What is a C-section delivery?

A C-section delivery is when you deliver your baby surgically, instead of having a vaginal birth. The procedure is considered safe for both the mom and the baby. Your experience will start with anesthesia and placement of a screen or drape to protect the incision area. Hospital staff may then clip any hair near the area of the planned incision, insert a catheter to ensure your bladder remains empty, and provide an oxygen mask. The surgeon and delivery team will monitor your blood pressure, heart, and temperature to ensure your safety before they make one incision in the abdomen and a small one in the uterus. Finally, they will deliver your baby and cut the umbilical cord. You may feel some pressure as your doctor removes your baby from the womb – or you may feel nothing at all – but there shouldn’t be any pain. Removing the placenta and stitching your incisions are the last steps. In most cases, the procedure takes about 45 minutes.

When is a C-section recommended?

There are many reasons a woman might choose or require a planned C-section delivery, and all have to do with safety for the mother and child, including:

  • To avoid vaginal birthing complications
  • There is a concern about the baby’s health or position in the body
  • The mother is carrying multiple babies
  • The mother has a pre-existing health condition, like heart disease
  • The mother has had a C-section in a previous pregnancy

An unplanned C-section usually happens when labor stalls instead of progressing normally. Here are a few more reasons for an unexpected or emergency C-section:

  • The baby is in distress or not getting enough oxygen
  • The mother’s placenta is covering the cervix opening
  • A loop of the umbilical cord has slipped through the cervix before the baby (cord prolapse)
  • There is an obstruction in the birth canal

How can you prepare for a C-section delivery?

There are many things you can do to prepare for your C-section, and it all starts with education. Learn about C-section delivery and talk to your doctor about what to expect. Ask questions and talk about your concerns with any member of your women’s health team. You can also reach out to family and friends who’ve had a C-section before to learn about their experience.

As C-section deliveries take longer to recover than a vaginal birth, enlist the help of those around you before the procedure. Ask friends and family if they can help after the birth to take care of the new baby, watch your other children, and help you with household work. Sketch out schedules and plans before your C-section date so you’re not scrambling to arrange logistics when you would be better off resting.

What are some C-section recovery tips?

A C-section usually requires about four to six weeks of recovery time and you’ll likely stay three to four days in the hospital after the procedure before going home.

There are several ways to make your C-section recovery go smoothly, including:

  • If your doctor gives you the OK, walk around within 24 hours post-surgery to help with bowel movements and reduce the risk of blood clots. It’s vital that someone is with you the first few times you leave your bed.
  • Keep your vaginal canal free (no sex or tampons) for a few weeks after the procedure to prevent infection. Your doctor can let you know when you can resume normal activities.
  • Ask your doctor about pain medicine and other medications that will be safe for the baby while breastfeeding.
  • Make sure to call your doctor if the incision swells, becomes painful, gets redder, or if you get a fever. These can be signs of infection.
  • Lastly, relax. Try to sleep when the baby sleeps and avoid strenuous activities, like heavy lifting and rigorous exercise until your doctor says it’s OK.

Whether you plan your C-section delivery or need one unexpectedly during labor, it can help ease your mind to be adequately prepared and informed about what it is, what to expect, and how to recover. To talk to our doctors and women’s health team about C-section and other safe labor and delivery methods, call (920) 885-6090 or contact us online to make an appointment today.

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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