Find out why you might need to have an elective or emergency C-section, what goes on during the birthing process, and what you can anticipate during your recovery after the procedure.

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What exactly is meant by the term “c-section”?

A caesarean section, or C-section, is a surgical procedure that allows a baby to be delivered without first passing through the birth canal. Instead, an incision is made in your abdomen and your child is delivered that way. In most cases, a caesarean section can be performed with the use of a form of localised anaesthesia known as an epidural, which enables the patient to maintain consciousness throughout the procedure. Cesarean sections are performed in the operating rooms of the labour and delivery ward. Recovery time following a caesarean section is typically lengthier than that following a natural delivery through the vaginal route. This is due to the fact that a C-section includes substantial abdominal surgery.

There are two primary categories of caesarean section, namely:

EMCS stands for “emergency Caesarean section,” which is another name for “unplanned C-section.”

and

a planned or elective caesarean section is another name for an elective C-section. Contrary to an elective C-section, which takes place before labour has even begun, an emergency C-section is performed on a woman after she has already given birth. 15 percent of women who gave birth in January 2017 had an emergency caesarean section, while 11 percent of women had a planned caesarean section, according to a survey conducted in 2017 by the Care Quality Commission.

Why may my doctor recommend that I have a caesarean section for medical reasons?

You might have to have a c-section for medical reasons but your medical team will discuss this with you.

It is possible that your physician will advise you to have a caesarean section if they believe that this type of delivery is more secure than a vaginal birth for either you or your baby. Before agreeing to have surgery, you should be given the opportunity to discuss your situation as well as the alternatives available to you, unless it is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention. There are many distinct conditions in which a C-section may be advised to you.

a Cesarean section performed in an emergency

Although it may give the impression otherwise, not all unplanned caesarean sections have to take place immediately. For instance, if you have been in labour for a long time but don’t appear to be getting any closer to giving birth, your doctor may recommend that you have a caesarean section. In this particular scenario, the time that passes between you and the consultant reaching an agreement to do a caesarean section and the time that you actually go into surgery can be several hours. In some scenarios, the caesarean section must be performed as quickly as humanly possible because an unforeseen complication has emerged, and it is imperative that your child be delivered as soon as possible. In the event that this occurs, you will most likely have surgery within a half an hour of the choice being made about what to do. It is important to consider what you would like to take place in the event that you do end up giving birth through caesarean section because more than one in ten women end up having unplanned C-sections. Have a conversation about it in advance with your midwife, and make sure to include all of this information in your birth plan.

a Caesarean section by choice

For instance, if your placenta blocks your cervix and makes it impossible for your baby to be born vaginally, your doctor may recommend that you have an elective section instead of giving birth naturally. Even though it’s labelled as voluntary, the reality is that there isn’t much of a choice involved in situations like this one. In other circumstances, the decision of whether or not to undergo a scheduled caesarean section is one that you and your consultant will make together. For instance, many hospitals may advise you to undergo a planned caesarean surgery if your baby is in the breech position because they believe that this is the safest method for your baby to be delivered; nevertheless, you are free to go ahead and give birth vaginally if you so want. In the event that you choose to have an elective caesarean section, you should ensure that your hospital bag for a C-section delivery contains all of the necessary supplemental items. You may ensure that you have everything you need by downloading our C-section hospital bag checklist and using it.

Can I ask to have a caesarean section instead of giving birth naturally?

It is possible to request a caesarean section through the NHS even if you do not have a valid medical cause for doing so. This kind of C-section delivery is referred to as a “maternal request C-section.” Women who have birth anxiety, possibly as a result of a previous traumatic birth, or who have endured sexual assault in the past often desire C-sections for reasons that are not related to medical concerns. These women often request the procedure for reasons that are not related to medical concerns.

However, there are numerous considerations to take into account while making the decision to have a caesarean section, and your desire need to be taken into account regardless.

How do I go about scheduling a caesarean section?

If you are thinking about having a caesarean section as part of your birth plan, it is in your best interest to discuss this possibility during one of your prenatal appointments.

Your midwife or primary care physician will be able to make a referral to an obstetrician for you. The obstetrician will go over the potential drawbacks and advantages of a scheduled C-section with you. If your concern about giving birth vaginally is the reason you want to have a C-section, then you should be offered a referral to a health professional who can help you deal with your anxiety in a supportive manner and who can assist you in coping with it.

If, after discussing your options with the appropriate medical personnel, you reach the conclusion that you would prefer to have a caesarean section, the official rules stipulate that you are entitled to be offered a planned caesarean section. If the doctor you consult is unwilling to do the C-section themselves, they should refer you to another physician who is willing to perform the procedure. If you are having trouble organising a caesarean section through your consultant, writing to the hospital is an excellent first action that you can take. Caesarean Birth is an organisation that provides helpful advice on what should be included in the letter.

What exactly does place during a caesarean section?

Knowing the different stages of a caesarean section birth in advance can help you to feel more prepared - whether you end up having one or not.

You can feel more prepared for a caesarean section if you are aware of what occurs during the various stages of the procedure. This is true whether you are planning on having a vaginal delivery or have already decided to have an elective C-section.

Through the execution of a permission form

You will be asked to sign a form indicating that you consent to the surgery that you are about to go through in order to have a C-section, regardless of whether or not the procedure was scheduled. Your consultant physician will provide you with an explanation as to why he or she believes that you should have a caesarean section, as well as go over the potential risks and advantages of the procedure with you so that you may provide informed permission. Even if there might not be enough time to go over everything or for you to sign the paperwork if your baby needs to be delivered immediately, you should still be kept informed about what is happening and offer verbal agreement.

C-section preparations

Because a C-section is a major abdominal surgery, the medical personnel will take certain precautions in order to reduce the possibility of infection and ensure that you are comfortable during the procedure.

Adjusting a catheter to a patient. After the procedure, you won’t be able to feel anything in your bladder for several hours because of the anaesthetic, so a catheter is strongly advised for you to use. If you are going to have an elective C-section, this can be fitted on the ward before the delivery, but if you are going to have an emergency C-section, it can be fitted in the operating room.

Inserting a cannula. You can receive fluids and medication to prevent nausea and vomiting through a tube if you have a cannula. This can be positioned in either your hand or your arm, whichever you like.

Shaving the hair from your pubic area. You may choose to have the top line of your pubic hair shaved. If you intend to have a caesarean section, it is vital that you do not perform this task at home but rather give it over to the medical professionals working at the hospital.

Altering the clothing you are wearing You will be requested to wear a hospital gown for the surgery, and depending on the procedure, you may also be required to wear surgical stockings to reduce the likelihood of developing blood clots.

Alternative methods of anaesthesia

You need to be able to confer in advance with the anaesthetist about the alternatives available to you, unless the situation is one that requires immediate attention.

A spinal block is an injection of a single, rapid-acting dosage of medicine into the back of a patient to numb the area below the chest.

Epidural: This is another injection that is given into the back, and it numbs the area from the chest down. This may be less effective than other methods, but it will provide pain relief for a longer period of time.

You will only receive a general anaesthetic if your doctor deems it medically necessary, you are unable to receive a spinal or epidural block, or your emergency C-section must be performed as quickly as possible. You will be sleeping throughout the birthing process if you are under general anaesthesia, and you will awaken in the recovery room following the birth.

Within the surgical operating room

When you are transported into the operating room, there will be as many as ten people there to assist with the birth of your child.

You should not be surprised to see any of the following folks there:

Surgeon

Anaesthetist

Midwife

Nurses

Paediatrician

The arrival of your newborn child

You will be asked to lie down on a table, and a sheet will be placed over your stomach so that you do not see the actual surgery being performed; however, if you so like, the sheet can be lowered so that you can observe the birth of your child.

After the administration of the anaesthetic, you will not be able to feel anything below your chest. During the procedure, you might feel some tugging or pulling, but it won’t hurt since the surgeon will make sure the anaesthetic is working properly before they make the incision in your lower stomach. After your child has been delivered, they will be held up for you to observe before being moved to the resuscitation table so the paediatrician may examine them thoroughly. This is done merely out of an abundance of caution in almost all circumstances. In the operating room, you should be able to have skin-to-skin contact with your child while they are stitching you up as long as everything is going well with your child. Some infants even begin nursing while they are at the movie theatre. Your birth partner may be able to hold your baby if you are unable to do so after giving birth to your child.

The suturing as well as your stay in the hospital

After the birth of your child, the surgeon will deliver the placenta and then suture you up. The stitches may be ones that dissolve on their own or ones that a midwife will remove approximately five days after the birth of your child. The entire procedure typically only takes about one and a half hours, provided that the C-section goes without any complications. After the delivery is complete, you, your baby, and your birth partner will be transported to a recovery room for a couple of hours. After that, you will be transferred to the postnatal ward, where you will remain for at least one night before being discharged.

How long does the healing take after having a caesarean section?

Recovery from a c-section can take some time so make sure you have the pain relief you need and look after yourself following the procedure.

As you will be recovering from abdominal surgery as well as caring for your new child following a C-section delivery, it is essential that you receive the appropriate pain treatment and assistance during this time. It may take several weeks, and in some cases even months, before you are able to return to your typical activities such as driving or working out. However, after a week or two, you will probably notice that the pain is far less severe. There are a number of factors that may influence how quickly you get better, including the following: Regardless of whether this is your first or second caesarean section, the scar left by your first section will become more visible after a second section. The presence of scar tissue from the prior procedure can make the subsequent healing process somewhat more agonising than it would have been otherwise. When you have an emergency caesarean, in contrast to when you have a planned C-section, you will have already gone through labour, which could have lasted for many days and involved various interventions. It’s possible that the C-section itself was performed more quickly and under greater strain than a scheduled section would have been. Because of everything, it can take you a little longer to start feeling better following the event.

relief from discomfort with a caesarean section

After your baby is delivered via caesarean section, the medical personnel will assist you with obtaining the necessary pain medication as soon as possible. Because everyone’s perception of pain is unique, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for additional pain medication or a different form of it if you find that you are experiencing a great deal of discomfort. After a number of days, most women discover that they are able to manage the pain with little more than over-the-counter medication. Before giving birth, it is a good idea to stock up on pain relievers like ibuprofen and paracetamol so that you will have them available at home. In the past, a lot of women were given co-codamol as a painkiller prescription, but now days, it’s not a good idea to do so because there’s a small chance that it can make it harder for your baby to breathe if you’re nursing. Visiting your primary care physician may be a good idea if you are experiencing pain that is more severe than usual or if it lasts longer than you believe is normal. Your primary care physician can check that your wound is healing as expected and refer you for an investigation to rule out any potential internal problems.

Your incision and scar from the C-section.

Following surgery, a dressing will be applied to your wound, and it will be possible to remove this dressing after twenty-four hours has passed. To help the wound heal, you should try to choose comfortable clothes that fit loosely and wear cotton underwear. Additionally, you should gently clean and dry the wound every day. You will have a scar on your stomach that is currently red but will eventually become less noticeable after the incision has healed. In the vast majority of cases, the scar will be located low on the abdomen, just below the bikini line. After having a C-section, it is typical to experience some loss of sensation in the area surrounding the scar. However, in the future, you should not feel any pain from the scar.

Experiencing bleeding after a caesarean section

After a caesarean section birth, your womb will return to its usual state, at which point you will have afterpains and vaginal bleeding (lochia), just as you would after a delivery through the vaginal route. In order to reduce the likelihood of contracting an infection during your period, it is recommended that you use maternity pads rather than tampons or a menstrual cup.

Breastfeeding following a Caesarean section

You will be able to begin breastfeeding immediately following your C-section, and some women even begin breastfeeding while they are still in the operating room. All of the medications that you will get after your caesarean section are completely safe for breastfeeding mothers. While the effects of the anaesthetic wear off, you may find that breastfeeding is uncomfortable when your baby is on top of you because of the pressure. Because there is no pressure applied to the incision when breastfeeding while lying on one’s side or while using the “rugby hold” (holding the baby under one’s arm), many women report that this position is more comfortable. Positions for breastfeeding after a caesarean section are as follows:

Holding for rugby

Side-lying hold

Relaxed position after having a caesarean section

Driving soon after having a caesarean section

Take into account the fact that you won’t be able to drive for a few weeks after having a C-section when making plans for how you’ll travel home from the hospital after the delivery and how you’ll get around if you need to in the early days following giving birth. Before you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, it is essential that you contact your auto insurer to find out how soon after you make a claim you will be covered.

Lifting some weights

During the first few weeks after giving birth, it is strongly recommended that you do not lift anything other than your infant. This is something that might be easier said than done, especially if you have an older child living at home with you, so make sure to take advantage of any offers of assistance that come your way. After the first month, if you suffer pain while lifting something or immediately afterward, you should accept it as a signal from your body to slow down for a little while longer.

Exercising after having a Caesarean section

It is perfectly OK for you to begin going for small walks as soon as you feel able to, but it is recommended that you wait at least 12 weeks before you begin any more rigorous exercise. This is to ensure that you are not placing too much strain on your scar. Even when you don’t have any physical symptoms, the wounds on your body are still working to heal.

Emotionally picking up the pieces

The experience of giving birth might not only leave a physical scar, but it can also have a profound effect on a person’s mental state. This is especially frequent following a traumatic birth experience, such as if you believed that your safety or the safety of your baby was in danger at any point during the birth. If you are having emotional difficulties and are finding it difficult to cope, you can seek information and assistance from the following organisations in addition to speaking with your general practitioner, health visitor, or midwife: Peer support groups are available through the Birth Trauma Association for individuals who have been affected by birth trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. After a challenging birth, women and their partners can turn to the services provided by Make Birth Better. Parents who are experiencing pregnancy or postnatal depression can call PANDAS’ helpline or participate in one of the organization’s peer support groups.

Maternity units are working round the clock to make sure you have the maternity care you need during the coronavirus panedmic.