Sometimes it is not possible to deliver a baby vaginally, and a surgical procedure called cesarean section is necessary to remove the baby from the uterus. Some cesarean sections are scheduled in advance for various reasons.
Two common reasons involve the baby’s position and the location of the placenta. If, in the last stages of pregnancy, your baby is breech (bottom first) in the uterus instead of head-down, or if the placenta is blocking the opening of your cervix, a cesarean birth may be necessary. Also, during the course of labor, if your baby is showing signs of stress, if she is too big to pass through the birth canal, or if labor is not progressing as it should, a cesarean birth may be necessary.
If a cesarean section is scheduled, you will complete the necessary paperwork, sign consent forms, and have your blood drawn upon admission to the hospital. Plan to arrive two hours prior to the scheduled time of your surgery.
Our scheduled cesarean births are done in the operating rooms on the mother-baby unit. Your partner or a family member can remain with you throughout your hospital stay. For your safety, we permit only one person in the operating room with you. Your family and friends can wait for you in the recovery area.
Typically in this procedure, the abdominal area is numbed with either an epidural or a spinal anesthesia, which involves injecting a local anesthetic into the spine. This allows you to be awake during the birth. In the rare event when an emergency cesarean section is necessary, general anesthesia may be given, causing you to become unconscious. Your surgery will take about one hour; however, the baby is born within the first 15 minutes and the remainder of the time is spent closing the incision. During this time, you may hold your baby.
Recovery from Cesarean
After surgery, you will be taken to a labor room to recover. Your pulse, respiration, blood pressure, incision, uterus and bleeding will be checked frequently during the first two hours. This is the ideal time to cuddle your baby and to breastfeed your baby for the first time. The nursing staff will be on hand to help and encourage you. Once you are “stable,” you will be moved to your postpartum room. At this time, your care will be transitioned to your mother-baby nursing team.
Following any surgery, it is important to change positions frequently — at least every two hours. Your nurse will show you how to support your incision site and help you move. You will also be encouraged to get out of bed and walk as soon as possible. These activities help speed your recovery and prevent complications. While moving, you may feel a pulling sensation in and around the incision; this is normal and will go away with time. Pain medication is given through the IV in your arm. After about 12 to 24 hours, you will receive oral pain medications.
Your incision will usually have metal staples or clips holding the skin together and will be covered by an adhesive bandage dressing. On the second or third post-operative day, the staples will be removed by your nurse and small pieces of tape, called steri-strips, will be applied. They will gradually loosen and fall off in the coming days. Getting your incision area wet during this time causes no problems, just be sure to dry it thoroughly afterwards. Once home, if you notice any redness around the incision, have any pain or swelling, or see any oozing or drainage from your incision, call your doctor.
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