Cesarean Delivery

Cesarean delivery is the birth of a baby through a cut (incision) in the abdomen and womb (uterus).

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Complications involving the pregnancy.

  • Allergies.

  • Medicines taken including herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicine.

  • Previous surgery.

  • History of blood clots.

  • History of bleeding or blood problems.

  • Other health problems.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Bleeding.

  • Infection.

  • Blood clots.

  • Injury to surrounding organs.

  • Anesthesia problems.

  • Injury to the baby.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • A tube (Foley catheter) will be placed in your bladder. The Foley catheter drains the urine from your bladder into a bag. This keeps your bladder empty during surgery.

  • An intravenous access tube (IV) will be placed in your arm.

  • Hair may be removed from your pubic area and your lower abdomen. This is to prevent infection in the incision site.

  • You may be given an antacid medicine to drink. This will prevent acid contents in your stomach from going into your lungs if you vomit during the surgery.

  • You may be given an antibiotic medicine to prevent infection.

PROCEDURE

  • You may be given medicine to numb the lower half of your body (regional anesthetic). If you were in labor, you may have already had an epidural in place which can be used in both labor and cesarean delivery. You may possibly be given medicine to make you sleep (general anesthetic) though this is not as common.

  • An incision will be made in your abdomen that extends to your uterus. There are 2 basic kinds of incisions:

  • The horizontal (transverse) incision. Horizontal incisions are used for most routine cesarean deliveries.

  • The vertical (up and down) incision. This is less commonly used. This is most often reserved for women who have a serious complication (extreme prematurity) or under emergency situations. 

  • The horizontal and vertical incisions may both be used at the same time. However, this is very uncommon.

  • Your baby will then be delivered.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • If you were awake during the surgery, you will see your baby right away. If you were asleep, you will see your baby as soon as you are awake.

  • You may breastfeed your baby after surgery.

  • You may be able to get up and walk the same day as the surgery. If you need to stay in bed for a period of time, you will receive help to turn, cough, and take deep breaths after surgery. This helps prevent lung problems such as pneumonia.

  • Do not get out of bed alone the first time after surgery. You will need help getting out of bed until you are able to do this by yourself.

  • You may be able to shower the day after your cesarean delivery.  After the bandage (dressing) is taken off the incision site, a nurse will assist you to shower, if you like. 

  • You will have pneumatic compressing hose placed on your feet or lower legs. These hose are used to prevent blood clots. When you are up and walking regularly, they will no longer be necessary. 

  • Do not cross your legs when you sit.

  • Save any blood clots that you pass. If you pass a clot while on the toilet, do not flush it. Call for the nurse. Tell the nurse if you think you are bleeding too much or passing too many clots.

  • Start drinking liquids and eating food as directed by your caregiver. If your stomach is not ready, drinking and eating too soon can cause an increase in bloating and swelling of your intestine and abdomen. This is very uncomfortable.

  • You will be given medicine as needed. Let your caregivers know if you are hurting. They want you to be comfortable. You may also be given an antibiotic to prevent an infection.

  • Your IV will be taken out when you are drinking a reasonable amount of fluids. The Foley catheter is taken out when you are up and walking.

  • If your blood type is Rh negative and your baby's blood type is Rh positive, you will be given a shot of anti-D immune globulin. This shot prevents you from having Rh problems with a future pregnancy. You should get the shot even if you had your tubes tied (tubal ligation).

  • If you are allowed to take the baby for a walk, place the baby in the bassinet and push it. Do not carry your baby in your arms.