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Cesarean Section - How a Cesarean Section Is Done

Surgery preparation

Most cesarean sections are done with epidural or spinal anesthesia, used to numb sensation in the abdominal area. Only in an emergency situation or when an epidural or spinal anesthesia cannot be used or is a problem would fast-acting general anesthesia be used to make you unconscious for a cesarean birth.

The hospital may send you instructions on how to get ready for your surgery, or a nurse may call you with instructions before your surgery.

In preparation for a cesarean section, your arms are secured to the table for your safety, and a curtain is hung across your chest. A tiny intravenous (IV) tube is placed in your arm or hand; you may be given a sedative through the IV to help you relax. A catheter is inserted into your bladder to allow you to pass urine during and after the surgery. Your upper pubic area may be shaved, and the abdomen and pubic area are washed with an antibacterial solution. The incision site may be covered with an adhesive plastic sheet, or drape, to protect the surgical area.

Before, during, and after a cesarean section, your blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm, and blood oxygen level are closely monitored. You will also be given a dose of antibiotics to prevent infection after delivery.

Cesarean procedure and delivery

After the anesthesia is working, a doctor makes the cesarean incision through your lower abdomen and uterus. See a picture of cesarean section incisions camera.gif. You may notice an intense feeling of pressure or pulling as the baby is delivered. After delivering your newborn through the incision, the doctor then removes the placenta and then closes the uterus and the incision with layers of stitches.

Right after surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where nurses will care for and observe you. You will stay in the recovery area for 1 to 4 hours, and then you will be moved to a hospital room. In addition to any special instructions from your doctor, your nurse will explain information to help you in your recovery.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 23, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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