Everything You Need to Know About C-Sections

When planning labor and delivery, a traditional vaginal birth is what most mothers aspire to have. However, you can’t always have the easiest labor without any complications. Even if you are planning and are set for a vaginal birth, it wouldn’t hurt to be more familiar with your other option – the C-section. 

Cesarean delivery or a C-section is a surgical procedure that is used to deliver a baby. It is done by making incisions in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. In the United States, over 32% of pregnant women deliver via C-section. Although it is a very common and relatively safe procedure, a little more information about it could help you prepare if you run into complications.  

What Happens During a C-Section 

After you have signed your consent form, you will be injected with anesthesia via your spine. This would numb you from the rib cage down. You would also have to drink medication that would neutralize your stomach acids before you go on to the operating room. 

Normally, you would get a 4-6 inches horizontal incision from side to side, through the abdomen and then an incision into the uterus. The preferred incision is from side to side (transverse) instead of horizontally from your pubic area upwards (see illustration of the two types of incisions). If you have a transverse incision, you could elect to try a Vaginal Birth After C-ection (VBAC) in subsequent births.  With the horizontal incision, a VBAC is not an option in future births. 

You might also feel your doctor moving your baby into a position where they can be perfectly pulled out. Like a vaginal birth, your doctor will easily see your baby and will gently pull them out. Your doctor will then clamp and cut the umbilical cord, remove the placenta, and close you up. 

You won’t feel any pain during this whole procedure although you might feel the sensation of your baby getting pulled out of your body. In addition, you won’t see this procedure because there is usually a curtain over your abdomen, but you can request to take a peek if you want to see your baby. 

After the C-section, you might feel a lot of discomfort and pain. Make sure to take it easy and rest when you can. If there are no complications, you should be recovering at home within 3-5 days after the procedure.  

Why Would You Get a C-Section? 

Most mothers who choose this procedure only do so if they want a controlled birth or if it was advised by their healthcare provider. Oftentimes, you are given this option if there are complications with your pregnancy 

C-sections shouldn’t be your first choice just because it is more convenient. Choosing to deliver via C-section can bring a lot of risks, so I still strongly recommend a traditional vaginal birth if you don’t encounter any problems with your pregnancy.  

Contact your doctor and talk about your options so that you can have a safe labor and delivery. 

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Dr. Alan Lindemann

Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB/GYN)​

He is an obstetrician and maternal mortality expert with 4 decades of medical practice beginning in Minnesota and presently in North Dakota. He has delivered around 6,000 babies with zero maternal deaths.