So you're having a C-section

No matter if your C-section is planned or an unexpected surgical procedure, there are preparations that...

No matter if your C-section is planned or an unexpected surgical procedure, there are preparations that must occur prior to it.

How to prepare for it

Under most circumstances, unless it is an emergency situation, a cesarean is set up according to a stringent patient and physician plan. The nurse practitioner or physician will begin the procedure by inserting an IV when the expectant mother is in labor. This is followed by anesthesia, which is typically a spinal block or epidural. That way, the expectant mother's lower body becomes numb, and she can stay awake throughout the entire procedure.

If necessary, the expectant mother's abdominal area is shaved in preparation for the procedure. Following that, a nurse will wash down the entire abdominal area with hypoallergenic soap or another type of antiseptic solution. Once the area is clean, sterilized drapes will be placed over the expectant mother's abdomen and, once she is wheeled into the operating area, a nurse will insert a catheter into her bladder. The abdominal area will also be screened off in order to prevent contamination and allow for continued sterilization, and to prevent the expectant mother from having to watch herself getting cut.

Some mothers want to see this procedure from beginning to end and, in that case, they can request that a mirror be placed so they can watch everything that occurs. This mirror can also be positioned in such a way that the baby can be seen being born by the mother, but not the cutting prior to the birth. If this is not possible, the expectant mother can request that her physician lift the baby immediately following birth so she can see her newly born child. Expectant mothers receiving a cesarean can still have a birthing coach present to hold their hand and be seated near their head.

About an emergency cesarean

In the case of some emergency cesarean births, everything happens in such quick succession that there is no time to numb the expectant mother and keep her awake. In these situations, general anesthesia is administered so she sleeps throughout the procedure. These procedures only last, at the most, a few minutes. Expectant mothers should expect to wake up feeling nauseous and groggy and with throat soreness and disorientation following an emergency cesarean.

Meeting the baby for the first time

Even though the cesarean itself only takes a few minutes, it could take approximately 30 minutes for the physician to finish the procedure. Finishing the procedure includes the removal of the mother's placenta as well as stitching up the incision. The longest part of the stitching process includes closing up each layer of muscle. Therefore, once the cord is cut, the baby can be brought right up to the mother's view so she can get to know her new child while the physician finishes everything up. In some cases, the mother can begin nursing immediately while she is still on the operating table. If this is not possible, she will be allotted the opportunity while she is in the recovery room. Because some mothers are too exhausted to provide the baby with the amount of attention he or she requests following birth, guilt might become an issue. There will be plenty of bonding time available later on, so she should not worry about those first few minutes she needs to recuperate and rest.

What happens during recovery

Believe it or not, C-sections and vaginal births tend to result in the same host of symptoms following the baby's birth. The mother will experience pain following the baby's birth as her uterus continues to contract and, in some cases, medications are administered to help accelerate this process. Postpartum bleeding will occur for a cesarean as it does with a vaginal birth, the mother will experience excessive fatigue, and her breasts could become engorged as she teaches her baby how to latch on.

In comparison to a vaginal birth, women who undergo a cesarean birth endure emotional and physical recovery for a longer period of time. Mothers should expect to remain in the hospital for a period of three or four days, and it will take between four and six weeks following her return home before she begins feeling like herself again. She should expect to feel excessive soreness at the incision site in the beginning, but this will begin to feel better as the days continue to progress. This site will also feel itchy and twitchy, and it's normal for the mother to see purple and pink coloration as everything begins to fade out.

Atlanta OB/GYNs can help you plan for the unexpected during your pregnancy. If you have questions or concerns about any part of the process, give these helpful doctors a call.

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