by Pregnancy.org Staff
Approximately 20 percent of births in the United States are done by cesarean section. Every woman, no matter how simple her pregnancy, faces the possibility that her labor could end in a C-section.
It's smart for every pregnant woman to read up on and understand the procedure so that in the unlikely event that it happens to her, she will have some idea of what to expect.
There is a great deal of debate in the medical community about what constitutes a necessary cesarean-section. Some common reasons are:
Depending upon the circumstances of your cesarean, doctors will have between a couple of hours and a couple of minutes to prepare you for surgery. They may ask you to drink a syrup that will help to coat your stomach to fight nausea from the anesthetic. You will lift your legs to your stomach while a nurse inserts a tube through your urethra and into your bladder. This is not a painful procedure, and if you have an epidural in you won't feel it at all. You also will probably be shaved to ensure that pubic hair does not enter into the incision. Most cesarean incisions are done just above the pubic bone and can be hidden under regular underwear or a bikini.
At some point, you probably will be given a sedative in your I.V. The sedative may have a mild effect on your memory of events, but more importantly will help calm you so that you can focus on the birth of your baby instead of on the worries of surgery.
Your doctor will go over the risks for you and talk to you about the procedure and you probably will sign a release acknowledging the risks. This is standard procedure for any surgery. Your spouse or partner will be offered the opportunity to scrub in and be with you.
Next, you will be wheeled down to the operating room where surgical staff will lift you from your hospital bed to the operating table. Don't help. They know how to lift even very-pregnant-you and they know where they want you.
Your obstetrician will probably meet you in the operating room where an anesthesiologist will be ready. The anesthesiologist will be responsible for your spinal block. If you already have an epidural, you may still need an additional needle stick to accommodate the spinal. The spinal block is a much heavier dose of medicine and will ensure that you are completely numb from the waist down.
A curtain will be raised over your mid section and you arms will be outstretched in order for the anesthesiologist and nurse to have access to your I.V. Your doctor will probably talk you through the surgery as he conducts it, if you ask him to. Otherwise, you can just talk to your partner and wait to hear the sounds of your baby's first cries!
Many hospitals require a pediatrician to examine a C-section baby just to be sure everything is okay. Your baby will be cleaned and weighed and brought to you. You won't be able to hold the baby for a little while as you will still be in surgery and your arms will have I.V. lines in them.