What to Expect With a C-Section

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While many mothers give birth vaginally, some pregnancies require surgical delivery. Cesarean section deliveries, commonly referred to as C-sections, allow the surgeon to remove the infant from the mother’s uterus. While some pregnancy conditions may cause doctors to schedule a C-section delivery beforehand, the need for a surgical delivery may not arise until after labor starts. Knowing what to expect during this process may help reduce the stress and anxiety of having your baby by C-section.

Preparing for Surgery

While medical centers and surgical units may follow varied procedures for preparing a mother for her C-section, some standard practices may apply. Your doctor, nurse or anesthetist may place an intravenous, or IV, line into a vein in your hand or arm. This tube allows your medical team to replace fluids and provide medications before, during and after your surgery. Expect a member of your health team to wash and disinfect the skin over your abdomen. Your anesthetist may use this preparation time to discuss the available options for managing your pain.

Surgical Pain Management

Depending on your situation, your doctor may decide to use a general anesthesia. MayoClinic.com advises that emergency C-sections may require this type of anesthesia. This type of anesthesia eliminates the possibility of remaining awake and alert during the procedure. Other options for your C-section include numbing the lower portion of your body. A spinal block or epidural anesthesia allows you to experience the delivery of your baby.

Procedure

During your C-section, your doctor makes an incision in your lower abdomen and uterus, allowing him to remove your baby. Although your anesthesia eliminates pain, you may experience some sensations during the procedure. These may feel like gentle tugging or pulling movements as your doctor performs the surgery. As in vaginal deliveries, your medical team cleans your baby’s airways and removes the umbilical cord. You may be able to watch some of these procedures. Your doctor completes your C-section by removing the placenta and closing the incisions with stitches or staples.

Recovery

Healing up from your C-section requires more time than an average vaginal birth. You may need to stay in the hospital for about three days after the surgery. Your nurses may encourage you to get out of bed and begin walking around within the first 24 hours. They may remove your urinary catheter and intravenous lines within 12 to 24 hours. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to reduce the discomfort you may experience. Your body continues to recover for about four to six weeks. Expect to feel some fatigue and discomfort during this recovery period. Rest when your baby sleeps to avoid feelings of exhaustion. Physical changes during this period include vaginal bleeding and the production of milk. Your health care facility can provide informational brochures on these expected changes that take place after both vaginal deliveries and C-sections.

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