What Can You Expect During Your Cesarean Section?

Being prepared for what to expect during a Cesarean section can help put your mind at ease. Major surgery (heck, any surgery!) is a scary prospect, so learning what to expect is a must! Whether you’re having a scheduled c-section or you’re preparing in the event that you require an unplanned c-section, the information in this article will give you some piece of mind should you find yourself requiring surgery.

Before Surgery

Before you are taken to the operating room, you will have an IV inserted to give you fluids and medication before, during, and after your surgery. After this, you will be transferred to the operating room. If your husband or partner is with you, they will have to wait outside while you are prepped for surgery.

Spinal anesthesia or an epidural are used to numb your belly and legs so that you do not experience any pain during surgery. For both of these procedures, you will sit on the operating table with your legs over the side and your back rounded. The skin where the needle will be inserted will be numbed. For an epidural, the needle is inserted into the epidural space in your spine, a catheter is threaded through the needle, and the needle is removed. You can then receive the medication through the remaining catheter. For a spinal, the needle is inserted into the spine, the medication is administered, and the needle is removed.

I know, they both sound really intimidating Mama, but try not to worry. The nurses in the operating room will be there to support you during this process, and both procedures are safe. Thousands of people receive both spinals and epidurals daily. In the event of an unplanned c-section, you may receive a general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep for a short time during the surgery.

Prior to the start of surgery, you will also have a urinary catheter inserted into your bladder to collect your urine. No fear! You are numb and should not feel it being inserted, and it shouldn’t be in for very long after your surgery! Also, some of your pubic hair may be shaved, and you will be washed with an antiseptic solution. The staff will place a vertical drape on your chest to protect the sterile surgical environment… and you won’t be able to see the procedure happening.

During Surgery

Once you are prepared for the surgery, your husband or partner will be brought into the operating room, decked out in surgical scrubs, and will sit on a stool near your head. When the doctor starts the surgery, he or she will make a horizontal incision low on your belly, usually just above the pubic hair line. Sometimes, a vertical incision is required, but not often.

You will be able to feel some pressure, which is normal, and this will all be explained to you at the time. When the doctors are ready to remove your baby from your uterus, you will experience more pressure — likened to someone sitting on your chest! The pressure doesn’t last long, and soon your baby is born!

Your baby will be quickly checked over to make sure he or she is breathing fine and is not experiencing any difficulties. Dad may even be able to cut the cord! Congratulations, your baby is now here!

There is some variation when it comes to skin to skin in the operating room among different hospitals and doctors. Know that immediate skin to skin contact with Mom and Baby is best practice – and know that you are well within your rights to ask and advocate for this if it is not offered to you. It is best to discuss this prior to surgery, if you can. Alternatively, baby engaging in skin to skin with Dad is a great alternative until Mom is ready.  

After Surgery

After your baby is born, the doctor will then remove the placenta and proceed to close your incision with stitches. Once the surgery is complete, you will be transferred to the recovery room where you will be attended to by a nurse (and baby should be with you/able to join you soon!). Give yourself a huge pat on the back and enjoy all the newborn snuggles!!

Contact a Mama Coach

If you are currently expecting and preparing for the birth of your baby, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area for a private prenatal class! As Registered Nurses, we can help answer all of your questions and ease some of your fears. Also, included is unlimited text support until the birth of your sweet baby!

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