Cesarean births are performed by making and incision through the abdominal wall and uterus. Currently the rate of cesarean births are around 29%, meaning that you have a more than 1 in 4 chance of delivering your baby by cesarean.
What to Expect During a Cesarean
Under normal circumstances the entire procedure takes about 45 minutes to complete. The baby is delivered in the first 5-15 minutes, while the rest of the time is used to close up the incision.
Prior to Surgery: you will be given an anesthetic if you have not already been given one during your labor. Most times a spinal or epidural is used, unless there is an immediate need to get the baby out, in which case a general anesthesia is used. A spinal or epidural is effective in numbing the area from the abdomen to the waist, and sometimes the legs as well.
Surgery: Once you are ready the surgeon will make an incision in your abdominal wall. If the baby needs to be delivered quickly then the incision will be vertical, from the navel to the top of the pubic area. Most cesareans are performed using a bikini cut, a horizontal incision just above the pubic bone. The muscles in your stomach are gently separated in order to access the uterus.
A cut is then made into the uterus, either horizontally or vertically. A vertical incision is usually used when there is an emergency or complication, and will limit the ability for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Another incision used with a complex delivery is a lower segment vertical incision, which is used only if no other type of incision can be made. In most cases a low transverse section incision is used, which has fewer risks and will allow the mother to attempt a VBAC with her next pregnancy with a lower risk of uterine rupture.
Once the uterus is open the amniotic fluid is sucked out and then the baby is delivered. Usually the baby will be delivered head first so the fluid can be removed from its nose and mouth before it takes its first breath. The baby will be taken out and held up for you to see, and then give to a nurse for evaluation. The placenta is then removed and the surgeon will begin closing up.
Post Surgery: After the close up is complete you will be taken to a recovery room. You may feel nauseas or shaky, this is a normal response to the anesthesia. Once you have cleared recovery you and your baby will be reunited for some important bonding time.
When you are getting ready to leave the hospital the staff with give you instructions on how to care for your incision