All About C-Sections
Are you planning to have a c-section or want to know more about them just in case? Birth plans are just that – a plan. When it comes to your delivery a vaginal birth might not be your choice or might not be able to happen when the time comes. Learn more about what caesarean sections are below and be informed for when it comes time to meet your new baby.
What is a c-section?
A caesarean section (or c-section) is where a baby is born through a cut (or incision) made through the mother’s abdominal wall and through the wall of the Uterus (womb). It is a surgical procedure performed in a hospital.
Why do c-sections happen?
There are many reasons why you might have a caesarean for your birth, both planned or unplanned.
Some of the reason why a planned caesarean section may be offered to you:
- You’ve had a c-section before
- Your baby is breech (feet first) or lying sideways and cannot be turned through a process called an ECV (External Cephalic Version)
- You have placenta previa (your cervix is blocked by your placenta)
- You are having 2 or more babies
Some of the reasons why an unplanned caesarean section may occur:
- Baby’s position is not ideal
- Labour does not progress (and your cervix does not dilate)
- Baby shows signs of distress and needs to come out straight away
- Your body shows signs of distress such as high blood pressure and the baby needs to come out straight away
What happens during a c-section?
When you enter theatre, you will be given anaesthetic so that you don’t feel any pain during your operation. This can be in the form of a spinal block, an epidural or where your baby needs to be born very quickly a general anaesthetic. If you are given a general anaesthetic, you will be asleep for your baby’s birth.
A caesarean section normally takes between 30 – 60 minutes.
The incision will be made on your lower belly will go through your abdominal wall and your uterus (normally around 10 cm long) and your baby will be lifted out through the cut. The umbilical cord is cut and then baby is checked over and given to you to hold... During this time your placenta is taken out. You will be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection and the incision will be stitched up and covered in a dressing.
Women normally stay in hospital for 2 to 5 days after having a caesarean. This can vary between hospitals and can be impacted by any issues with your recovery.
Recovering from a caesarean is different to a vaginal birth. Recovery is normally around 6 weeks. We’ve included some helpful tips below on taking care of yourself and your newborn during this time.
- We know it’s hard with a newborn, but try to get as much rest as you can
- Take pain medication prescribed by your Doctor. Especially regular paracetamol and possibly an anti-inflammatory, such as nurofen - check this one with your Doctor first.
- Don’t lift any weight heavier than your baby and don’t lift anything that causes you pain
- Even though you’ve had a c-section, you will still bleed from your vagina after birth from where the placenta was attached to your uterus. Prepare for this with maternity disposable underwear or maternity pads. We have a high waisted range that are comfortable for c-section recovery.
- Try to take a gentle walk every day
- Pregnancy weakens your pelvic floor muscles, not just delivery, make sure to do your pelvic floor exercises
- Keep your wound clean and dry, checking regularly for signs of infection including redness, swelling, pain or bad-smelling discharge
- Reduce pain and discomfort by wearing high waisted support underwear. See our range here.
If you do experience either a planned or unplanned caesarean section, make sure to listen to your body and allow yourself plenty of time to recover, sometimes even more or less than the recommended 6 weeks. You have just experienced major surgery and you and your body need time to heal.
Having a c-section with one birth doesn’t mean that you cannot deliver vaginally with your next pregnancy. Talk to your medical professionals about how you can plan for your next pregnancy when you are ready.