A Caesarean section (C-section) is a surgery wherein incisions are made to the mother’s abdomen and uterus as means to deliver the baby.
Despite the reasons or the circumstances, it is relieving to note that almost all of the mothers and babies recover well after a C-section and the prognosis is generally good.
It is important to know and prepare oneself for this surgical procedure, and below is a list of crucial information needed:
Discuss with your Doctor
It is important to ask any questions and clarify your doubts and review your circumstances beforehand. In the case of elective C-section, you will be more prepared for the procedure, but one should arm oneself with the facts in case of an emergency during delivery. You may be asked to sign a consent form, and your partner may need to be prepared to give consent during any emergency situation. Fiona Barlow, an antenatal teacher, advocates the use of BRAN, a discussion of the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Nothing, a useful tool for exploring the options available to couples who may find themselves in these situations.
As some form of anesthesia is always required, you will need a consultation by an Anesthesiologist. According to Babycenter, this is usually regional in the form of a spinal or an epidural, both of which help numb the pain in the lower areas of the body while you remain awake. Sometimes, a combination of both is given during the surgery. There is another alternative i.e. general anesthesia, which is used more for problem births and is not common.
These are mandatory to check your blood group in case of emergency transfusion as well as to check for anaemia and to determine your haemoglobin levels.
In case there are complications in the mother or the baby’s health that warrant a C-section before 39 weeks of pregnancy, an Amniocentesis may be preformed. This is to check the baby’s lung maturity and in this procedure, a sample of the amniotic fluid (the liquids protecting and surrounding the baby) from the uterus is taken. This essentially measures if the baby is ready for birth.
In the case of a scheduled C-section, it is advised not to eat anything after midnight on the day of surgery so as to keep the abdomen clear. Furthermore, an antacid may be given to keep the stomach acids neutralized.
A thin tube called a catheter is usually inserted into the bladder after giving a painkiller. This is to keep the bladder drained, empty and safe before, during and after the surgery.
- The area above the pubic region will be cleaned and shaved.
- In all likelihood, a drip will be inserted into your arm so that drugs can be easily administered through the surgery.
- You will be transferred to an operating room where monitors for your heart and blood pressure maybe attached. Sometimes, a finger saturation monitor to measure oxygen levels is also used.
A C-section that is planned usually takes about 45 minutes to an hour. It is wise to discuss post-operative pain management beforehand. This may take the form of painkillers as well as antibiotics and anti-sickness to ward off infections and vomiting.
It is also necessary while preparing for a C-section to know that you will be kept in the hospital for 3-5 days and will need to plan for this as well as for your post-operative care at home. It is wise to organize help and support as the mother will be weakened and indisposed after surgery.
It is important to note that if your C-section is unplanned, call and visit a doctor/hospital immediately if:
- your water breaks (a gush or trickle from your vagina).
- you have rhythmic uterine contractions 10 minutes apart for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- you have vaginal bleeding.
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Read more articles on Childbirth (Delivery).
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