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Everything About C Sections

If you're looking towards a scheduled (or a possible surprise) cesarean, you're probably wanting to know everything about c sections now so you won't be surprised then. Here are some of the cesarean basics.

Fear of childbirth is not a good indicator that you should have cesarean.

Hollywood mom Britney Spears (who obviously didn't know everything about c sections) glamorized the procedure by choosing a c section because she "feared the pain of delivery".

Not a good idea. There are more risks associated with cesareans than benefits.

The bad news?

Childbirth hurts. It will either hurt on the front end, with a vaginal delivery and relatively quick recovery; or it will hurt on the back end, with a relatively quick cesarean delivery, and a longer recovery. Either way, a mother will be sacrificing comfort at some point for the benefit of delivering her baby.

How Long is the Surgery?

Delivery is 45-60 minutes, with the baby born within the first 5-10 minutes.

The remainder of the surgery is spent on effectively cleaning up the wound and sewing the layers of tissue and skin back together.

arrow gif Read more about the incision

The good news?

Millions of moms have done this before you. Most of those moms didn't even have the amazing medical advancements in pain management that we have today.

There are all sorts of ways you can control pain during labor. You can choose the natural methods like breathing, massage, and concentration (which I've done). Or you can go straight for the drugs (which I've also done).

During my second delivery, most of hard labor was spent comfortably playing cards with my husband, due to a successful epidural.

When is Having a C-Section a Good Idea?

Knowing everything about c sections means you know when to have them:

Concerns for the Baby:

  • The baby is in breech(feet down) or transverse (sideways) position.
  • The baby's heart rate speeding up or slowing down
  • The placenta is malfunctioning or dis-attaching too early.
  • The cervix stubbornly refuses to dilate completely
  • The mother has genital herpes, which the baby could contract in a vaginal birth.

Concerns for the Mother:

  • Labor has been so prolonged the mother is too weary to push.
  • The pelvis is too small for a baby to pass through (especially with 9-10 lb. babies).
  • A previous delivery was a cesarean and uterine rupture is a concern.
  • The mother has diabetes, heart disease, or other medical concern.

The First 30 Minutes

As soon as the baby is delivered, she will be moved to a warmer for a brief examination (including measuring and weighing). While this is occurring, the doctor will begin to closing the multiple layers of tissue between your uterus and skin. Visit this page for more information about the incision.

The average cost of a cesarean section is almost $7,000 more than a vaginal delivery.

Everything about c sections is expensive - from the pain medication to the longer stay.

The average hospital stay for a c-section is 3-5 days, rather than the standard 2-3 days for vaginal.

If the baby gets a healthy pass from the doctor, she will be brought to the head table where you can see and touch her briefly. You will most likely not be able to hold her until the surgery is completely over (about 45 minutes).

The first hour after your delivery may be frustrating because your access to your newborn will be somewhat limited. Be patient and don’t get discouraged. There will be plenty of time for bonding after you're all sewn up.

Finally, the prize for actually experiencing everything about c sections is lying in your arms, sleeping peacefully. Usually, the first feeding is done in the recovery room right after surgery.

If you are breastfeeding, explore the tips included in this article for comfortable feeding positions.

If you choose not to breastfeed, bottle feeding using those same holds will promote effective bonding. The most important part of this initial bonding time is eye contact and touch, and less about where the milk comings from.

What is a Cesarean Birth Doula?

The word doula is Greek for "women's servant". A cesarean birth doula is a professional trained woman who whispers everything about c sections in your ear - while it's happening.

She supplies emotional, physical, and educational support to you and your spouse. Best of all, she does it before, during, and after the delivery.

Antepartum Doulas

    Antepartum Doulas are for moms who are on bed rest or are having a high risk-pregnancy.

    Birth Doulas

    Birth Doulas are there for the actual delivery and provide comfort, encouragement, and knowledge for every step of the birthing process.

    Both cesarean and vaginal delivery mothers find them helpful.

    Postpartum Doulas

    Postpartum Doulas help during the first few weeks of motherhood. They provide breastfeeding support and will even help with cleaning, cooking, or babysitting while Mom grabs a nap.

During the cesarean, a doula will concentrate on answering questions you may have and telling you what the doctor is or will be doing. (Nurses and doctors are sometimes concentrating too hard to offer this important communication).

After the baby is born, your husband may be busy with the baby or (heaven forbid) have to follow her to Intensive Care. Having a doula there with you during the remaining 45 minutes of surgery can be immensely comforting in a time that would have been scary and stressful by yourself.

arrow gif For more information on hiring a doula, visit the Doulas of North America (DONA) website.

Can't Afford a Doula? Get a Good Babysitter

If you don't have family nearby, hire someone locally to help you care for your baby, yourself, and assume the other household duties you shouldn't be doing while you recover.

SitterCity is America's First and largest online babysitter network, and the leading website for finding babysitters on the web.

SitterCity will provide you with all their references, any special skills (like CPR training) and all the other things you want to know, but may forget to ask.

They also have a section for parents to share their experience and rate each babysitter. You are guaranteed to find a helpful (and safe) helper during this recovery time.

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Everything about c sections hints toward a long and painful recovery.

Unless you have one of the conditions listed above, it is strongly encouraged that you choose a vaginal delivery. In the weeks following your baby's birth, your body will thank you for it!

All the photos on this page can be found at and were used
according to licensing requirements.

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