Very few women would choose a cesarean for their birth experience, however, more than a third of the women in the United States will have a cesarean. (Many other countries tend to have lower cesarean rates.) Therefore, it is important that every pregnant woman is aware of the procedures that surround a cesarean section. This will give those who do birth by this process more choices, and hopefully, less fear.
Some of these may go in a different order, and a few left out, but these are the basics:
- An intravenous line inserted
- Pre-operative medications may be used to calm you down. They can also make you groggy, if you wish to avoid them, be sure that you discuss this with your operative team.
- An antacid for your stomach acids, to attempt to reduce the dangers should you aspirate during the surgery (Generally not a problem with regional anesthesia (epidural/spinal).).
- Monitoring leads (heart monitor, blood pressure)
- Anesthesia (Spinal anesthesia is recommend for several reasons when epidural isn't previously in place, or the cesarean is planned.)
- A catheter inserted to collect urine (insist that this is done after your anesthesia so that you don't feel it)
- Anti-bacterial wash of the abdomen, and partial shaving of the pubic hair
- Skin Incision (Low transverse is the most common.)
- Uterine Incision (Low transverse is the most common.)
- Breaking the Bag of Waters
- Disengage the baby from the pelvis
- Birth!!!! (Accomplished by hand, forceps, or vacuum extractor)
- Cord Clamping and cutting
- Newborn Evaluation
- Placenta removed and the uterus repaired
- Skin Sutured (Usually the top layers will be stapled and removed within 2 weeks.)
- Postoperative medications (Ask about Duramorph.)
- You will be moved to the Recovery Room (If the baby is able s/he can go with you.)
We also have a cesarean photo gallery, if you care to see the details.
Family Centered Cesarean Births
Family centered birth is a word that is used to describe a birth that is more towards a family setting. People usually believe that this cannot apply to a surgical procedure. This is not true.
Even with a cesarean surgery you can have a family centered birth, if you know your options and choose to apply them. Some of the options will be the same as for a vaginal birth. You may have to work harder to have a family centered birth in the event of surgery, but planning ahead (even if you don't foresee a cesarean) can go a long way.
- Bringing your partner (and sometimes one or two other people)
- Using a mirror during the birth or having the screen dropped
- Using music during the delivery
- Pictures, videotaping
- Partner cutting the cord
- Minimal separation from the baby
- Breastfeeding in the recovery room
- LeBoyer bath after birth
- Freeing one of your hands to touch the baby after birth
- Partner carrying the baby to the warmer after birth
Tips for Recovery
Everyone's recovery will be different, depending on your age, body type, and general health. However, some basics of recovery will be to remember that you have just had major abdominal surgery as well as given birth to a new baby. You may experience: