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How a Caesarian Section Is Performed-continued

What should you expect if you have a C-section? The first decision to be made, after the decision for the C-section itself, is the type of anesthesia to be used. If you already have an epidural catheter in place, extra medication can be given through the catheter to make you completely numb and pain-free below the chest. If you do not have an epidural, it is often quicker and easier to be given a spinal anesthetic. In both cases, you will have excellent pain relief and be awake and aware for the entire procedure. In the rare cases when minutes may mean the difference between life and death, general anesthesia will be used. In that case, you will be asleep for the duration of the surgery.

A nurse will put a catheter in your bladder, to continually drain out the urine. The bladder sits virtually of top of the uterus while the mother is lying on her back. If the bladder if full, it will be in the way during surgery. The nurse may also need to shave your pubic hair to clear the area where the incision will be made.

In the operating room, you will be placed on the operating table. Your arms will rest on boards on either side. The anesthesiologist will attach all sorts of monitoring devices that will be used to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and the oxygen content of your blood. You will, of course, already have an intravenous line in place to receive any fluids or medication you might need during the surgery. The procedures and the equipment may be intimidating, but they are all painless.

Your abdomen will be washed with a disinfectant soap, and the surgical drapes will be placed over your whole body, except your head. Then the surgery will begin, although you will not feel it. If you are awake, your labor coach can be with you and at your side, throughout the whole procedure.

A C-section usually takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete. It takes less than 10 minutes to get the baby out. The rest of the time is required to suture the incision in the uterus and abdominal wall. Repeat C-sections often take longer, however, because of the presence of scar tissue.

You will be able to see your baby immediately after it is born, and your coach can hold it, once it is cleaned and diapered. After the surgery is over, you will be transferred to the recovery room for several hours of observation. If you feel up to it, you can nurse the baby for the first time.

The recovery period for a C-section is longer than that for a vaginal delivery. You should expect to be in the hospital for three to four days, and you will most certainly need to take pain medication to ease the incisional pain.

There is no reason to feel disappointed if you have a C-section. After all, the object of pregnancy and labor is to deliver a healthy baby, and sometimes the only way to achieve that is by C-section.