C-Section (Cesarean Birth) (cont.)

Preparation before surgery

Cesarean delivery takes about 45 to 60 minutes. It takes place in an operating room. So if you were in a labor and delivery room, you will be moved to an operating room. Often, the mood of the operating room is unhurried and relaxed. A doctor will give you medicine through an epidural or spinal block, which will block the feeling of pain in part of your body but allow you to stay awake and alert. The spinal block works right away and completely numbs your body from the chest down. The epidural takes away pain, but you might be aware of some tugging or pushing. See Medical Methods of Pain Relief for more information. Medicine that makes you fall asleep and lose all awareness is usually only used in emergency situations. Your abdomen will be cleaned and prepped. You will have an IV for fluids and medicines. A nurse will insert a catheter to drain urine from your bladder. This is to protect the bladder from harm during surgery. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing also will be monitored. Questions to ask:

  • Can I have a support person with me during the operation?
  • What are my options for blocking pain?
  • Can I have music played during the surgery?
  • Will I be able to watch the surgery if I want?

What should I expect during a C-section?

The doctor will make an incision that is about 6 inches long and goes through the skin, fat, and muscle. Most incisions are made side to side and low on the abdomen, called a bikini incision. Once inside the abdominal cavity, the doctor will make an incision to open the uterus. The opening is made just wide enough for the baby to fit through. One doctor will use a hand to support the baby while another doctor pushes the uterus to help push that baby out. Fluid will be suctioned out of your baby's mouth and nose. The doctor will hold up your baby for you to see. Once your baby is delivered, the umbilical cord is cut, and the placenta is removed. Then, the doctor cleans and stitches up the uterus and abdomen. The repair takes up most of the surgery time. Questions to ask:

  • Can my partner cut the umbilical cord?
  • What happens to my baby right after delivery?
  • Can I hold and touch my baby during the surgery repair?
  • When is it okay for me to try to breastfeed?
  • When can my partner take pictures or video?
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/13/2014