What is a Cesarean Section (C-section)?
Cesarean Section is the surgical delivery of a baby by an incision through the mother’s abdomen and uterus. This is major surgery.
How long does a C-Section take?
The procedure takes about 60 minutes.
In the operating theatre, it takes around 15 minutes to prepare a mother for surgery, this includes administering anesthesia, attaching all IV lines, and inserting the catheter.
The first incision is made once the body is numb from the waist down, and the baby can be delivered in under 15 minutes, from the first incision. It takes about 30 minutes to stitch all the layers back together.
Why are Cesarean Sections performed?
C-Sections can be unplanned, elective, or emergency surgeries.
Unplanned C-section deliveries may be required for the following reasons; failure of labor to progress, where the cervix begins to dilate but stops before full dilation or the baby stops moving down the birth canal.
Elective C-section deliveries may be required for the following reasons; convenience – some women prefer to deliver by surgery because it gives them more control in deciding when their baby is born, previous C-sections, maternal health issues, placental complications, positioning of the baby, multiple babies or the baby is too large.
Emergency C-Section deliveries may be required for the following reasons; fetal distress, prolapsed umbilical cord, maternal hemorrhage, placenta abruption, or uterine rupture.
In many cases, women who experience unplanned and emergency C-sections, endure contractions, and then move into surgery.
What happens to the baby once delivered?
Once the baby is delivered, the mother will be allowed to see him/her, and then the baby will be taken to the nursery. Usually, the baby is accompanied by the father (if he is present).
What type of C-Section Incisions are there?
There are two main types of C-sections incisions:
- Transverse or horizontal incision which is made just above the bikini line, there is less chance of blood loss, and this method leads to quicker healing.
- Classic or vertical incision is made down the center of the mother’s belly, from the navel to the pubic area. These are used for rapid deliveries.
What type of pain relief is given?
- Local Anesthetic to the lower back
- Epidural or Spinal Block
What can be expected:
Please note, procedures vary based on the person, institution, and/or case.
Before the surgery?
- The consent form has to be signed before the procedure begins, in the event of an emergency your partner may be asked to sign these forms on your behalf.
- If blood was not previously taken for cross-matching purposes, it would probably be done now.
- Intravenous lines inserted into the hand
- Local anesthesia administered, then the epidural or spinal block injection will be given
- Pubic hair trimmed if required
- Catheter is inserted
- Abdomen washed
- Medication is delivered through lines to prevent infections and relax the mother.
During the surgery?
- Seven layers of tissue will be cut to get to your baby
- Blood vessels are cauterized (burned) to prevent bleeding.
- The amniotic fluid is suctioned once the uterus is cut
- Your vitals are consistently monitored
- While you feel no pain, you will feel a tugging sensation as the baby is being delivered.
- Once delivered, you will be able to see and kiss your baby but not hold him/her. Your baby will be taken for care and your husband/partner will be asked to accompany the baby once present.
- The placenta is then delivered and you will be stitched back, layer by layer.
After the surgery?
You will be taken back to your room for recovery.
- You can expect monitors to be hooked up to track your vitals
- Compression cuffs or sock will be placed on your legs
- Additional blankets will be given, you are usually cold and shaking post-surgery.
- Medication and Fluids will be given intravenously, some mothers are given anticoagulant (blood thinners) injections if they are considered to be at risk for blood clots.
- The nurses will come to help you clean up (sponge bath)
- Your baby will be bought to breastfeed, this is usually a beautiful but difficult moment, as you still do not have control from the abdomen down.
- The hospital stay can last anywhere from 2 – 4 days, once you are able to walk and use the washroom you are considered for release.
Recovery, what can be expected.
- Vaginal bleeding for 6-8 weeks
- Compression socks to be worn for 2 – 6 weeks depending on your doctor’s recommendation
- No driving for 6-8 weeks
- Anticoagulant injections to be self-administered for 10 days (only if recommended by a doctor)
- Pain medication and antibiotics for 10 – 14 days
- Limit stretching, climbing stairs and do not lift anything heavier than your baby
- Discomfort when using the washroom, from the removal of the catheter
- Constipation is experienced sometimes.
- Shower with care, external stitches should be removed after one week.
- Internal stitches take months to heal
Risks associated with C-sections
As with any major surgery, there are risks, these include:
- Postpartum hemorrhage
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Wound infection
- Surgical injury, mother and/or baby
- Increased risks during future pregnancies
Let us know what else you would like to know about C-Sections.