Cesarean Delivery

When a cesarean birth is necessary, count on the advanced technology and medical expertise at Woman's for a safe and healthy delivery.

In some cases, a vaginal delivery is just not possible. Your doctor may decide cesarean delivery (C-section) is safest for both you and your baby.

Most C-sections are planned events; however, sometimes things do not go as planned during a vaginal delivery and an emergency C-section is needed. 

If your labor does not progress as it should and your doctor determines you need a C-section, you will be moved to the operating suite. Afterwards, you can remain together with your baby in our large recovery area specifically for patients who have had a C-section.

Arriving at the Hospital

If your C-section is planned, you will be given a scheduled time to arrive at the hospital. Please bring the packet of information from your doctor containing all your prenatal history and consent forms. Once you arrive, you will first be admitted to a C-section prep room where preparation for your surgery will begin.

Before Your C-Section

You can expect the following during your preparation for surgery:

  • A nurse will assess both you and baby.
  • Your stomach will be washed with an antibacterial solution.
  • The area just below the belly button to the pubic area will be shaved.
  • An Anesthesia doctor or a nurse will visit you to talk about your anesthesia options.
  • Sterile drapes will be placed over your body so that only your stomach is exposed.

C-sections are usually done with an epidural, therefore you may be awake and alert when your baby is born. An anesthesia nurse will be seated at the head of your bed to keep you comfortable and answer questions during delivery. Your support person will also be seated at the head of the bed.

Immediately After Your C-Section

After your C-section, you will recover with your baby. We encourage skin-to-skin contact to promote early bonding and support you if you choose to breastfeed. Soon after, a nurse will assess your baby through the following:

  • Obtaining weight, length and head size
  • Giving a vitamin K injection to help blood-clotting mechanisms remain normal
  • Placing an antibiotic ointment in your baby's eyes

You will be monitored for:

  • Vital signs
  • Post-anesthesia management
  • Pain control
  • Postpartal bleeding

After recovery, you and your baby will be transferred to a Mother/Baby room. Babies who have problems adjusting immediately after birth may be transferred to the transition nursery or to the Newborn and Infant Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU is designed and equipped for sick or premature infants who need constant medical and nursing care, or need to be closely watched.

Preparing for Your C-Section

Preparation for your C-section begins before you even arrive at the hospital. If you are having a C-section, please keep in mind the following:

  • Do not shave or wax your abdomen, thighs or the area around your vagina for at least one week before your C-section.
  • Take a shower the night before or morning of surgery using an antibacterial soap such as Dial. If you are unable to take a shower, you still need to wash the surgical area thoroughly with antibacterial soap and wear freshly laundered clothes.
  • You may brush your teeth but do not swallow any water.
  • If you have been told to take medications on the day of surgery, take with one ounce (2 tablespoons) of water.
  • Remove ALL body piercings and jewelry.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions regarding what you may eat or drink before your scheduled C-section.
  • Be sure you have the baby's car seat installed before arriving at the hospital.

After Your C-Section

Having a C-section means you are not only recovering from childbirth, but also surgery. You should plan to add about one to two weeks of additional recovery time before you resume your normal activities.

Concerns You May Have:

Being Separated From Your Baby

After your C-section, you will recover with your baby. We encourage skin-to-skin contact to promote early bonding and support you if you choose to breastfeed. Babies who have problems adjusting immediately after birth may be transferred to the transition nursery or to the Newborn and Infant Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The NICU is designed and equipped for sick or premature infants who need constant medical and nursing care, or need to be closely watched.

Getting Out of Bed and Moving Around

If possible, raise the head of the bed, roll onto your side and lower your legs over the side of the bed before sitting up. Support your incision with your hand or a pillow as you move or cough. Stay seated on the side of the bed until you feel stable and stand up slowly.

Keeping Your Lungs Clear

It is important to cough and to take deep breaths after any surgery, including a C-section, to help clear your lungs. Coughing can cause your incision to hurt. Try placing a pillow over your belly and lean forward when coughing. Take deep breaths often throughout the day.

Gas Pain

Gas pain is common after any type of abdominal surgery. You can help to move the gas along and lessen the pain by walking as soon as you are able. Gradually increase the distance you walk each time and ask for help when needed.

You may also find that certain positions help with gas. Lie on your left side with your legs bent and a pillow between your knees. A small towel rolled under your stomach may help prevent a pulling sensation on your stitches. Also try lying on your stomach, on a pillow, 20 to 30 minutes at a time.

Try to drink warm liquids to keep your bowels active. Drink and eat slowly and don't use a straw. Avoid carbonated drinks (soda) and gas-producing foods (beans, cabbage, and melon are some examples).

If these techniques do not help, talk to your doctor about consulting with the physical therapists at Woman's Center for Wellness for instruction on abdominal massage and exercises.