Do I Need a Caesarean Section?
Some of us may know we need a C-section long before we give birth, but for others, the decision might not be made until they go into labour. If your doctor feels that a normal delivery will put you or your baby’s health at risk, they may advise you to have a caesarean (C-section). Such reasons may include:
- Placenta praevia; when the placenta is low in your uterus or blocks your baby’s exit
- You are carrying three or more babies, or if you are having twins and neither is head-down
- Your baby is considered too large to come through the pelvis
- You have severe high blood pressure or other illnesses such as pre-eclampsia
- Your baby’s health is threatened and a quick birth is needed
- Your baby is lying breech, or another way that could prevent a normal birth
- Cord prolapse; when the umbilical cord falls forwards so your baby cannot be delivered easily
- You have an outbreak of genital herpes, which can be passed to your baby through a vaginal birth
What Happens During a C-section?
The procedure may vary slightly from hospital to hospital, but here is a general guide as to what will happen.
- You’ll be given an antacid to neutralise the acid in your stomach, and antibiotics to prevent infection
- An intravenous drip will be set up to monitor your fluid levels and give you extra pain relief if you need it
- You will have a local anaesthetic (an epidural or spinal block), and a catheter to empty your bladder
- A screen will be set up across your stomach, so you will not be able to see the operation
- Some of your pubic hair will be shaved to clear the area for the incision
- Once the anaesthetic takes effect, the doctor will make an incision along the top of your bikini line, allowing them to deliver your baby
Although it’s natural to worry, a caesarean is a very straightforward procedure that’s usually over within the hour. The actual delivery of your baby only takes around 5 minutes, but the length of the entire procedure takes around 45 to 60 minutes. Unless you need a general anaesthetic or it’s an emergency, your birth partner usually gets to stay with you.
What Happens Next?
Once you’ve been stitched up, it would be the moment you’ve been waiting for – holding your baby for the very first time! Soak in that precious moment as you lay your baby on your bare chest. This skin-to-skin contact encourages bonding, and is recommended throughout the duration of breastfeeding. Depending on your preference, you may wish to lie on your side for breastfeeding.
Just like with any surgery, your body needs time to heal right after. Give your body up to six weeks to fully heal. You should be able to go home with your baby after 24 hours, although most mothers stay in hospital for 2 to 4 days.
As you’re reading up on C-Section, be sure to discuss with your birth partner on what to expect as well. Having fathers on board and engaged during the procedure can make for a significantly better experience!
What Should I Do in the Meantime
Be sure to include your thoughts about having a C-section in your birth plan. During your last few appointments before baby arrives, your midwife will check your baby’s position in your womb, so do not skip these scheduled meetings!
Click here to find out more about the nutrition that your baby needs after C-section.
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