Unless you’ve done it before, it can be hard to know how to prepare for a C-section. Fortunately, a little advance planning (if you’re having a scheduled C-section) can help make things go more smoothly.
If you are having a planned C-section, you will be asked to not eat or drink anything prior to your surgery. When you arrive, your baby will be monitored, and you will have your vital signs checked. You’ll meet your nurse, get an IV, have blood work, and sign a surgical consent. Other people you’ll meet include your doctor (and possibly residents/medical students) and someone from the anesthesia team.
Often a spinal or epidural is used during a C-section so you can be comfortable but awake. This is usually done in the operating room, and while this is happening your support partner (usually only one is allowed in the OR with you) will wait outside. Once it is placed and your belly has been cleaned and the sterile drapes have been placed, your partner can come in.
The delivery of your baby is usually the quickest part of the surgery. After he or she is out, the pediatric team will check your baby and then bring the baby over to meet you. Be sure to take pictures of your new family! Depending on the hospital policy, your baby will either stay with you in the operating room or go to the recovery room with your partner until you are ready.
Once in the recovery room, your nurse will monitor you and your pain closely. This is perfect time to start nursing or do skin-to-skin with your new baby. If you plan to breastfeed, be sure to ask for tips about comfortable positions for nursing after a C-section.
After a while, you’ll go to your postpartum room. Visitors can usually see you at this point, but do consider if you are ready or if you need some rest. A catheter will likely still be in your bladder to help keep it empty, so at least you don’t have to worry about going to the bathroom.
Over the next day your IV will be disconnected, your catheter will come out, you’ll eat regular food, and you’ll start walking around. These are all important steps in recovery. It is important to make sure you take your pain medication so you are comfortable enough to do these things and care for your baby.
Most women go home after 2-4 days. You’ll be given thorough instructions of what to do and what to avoid. It is important to not do heavy lifting or have sex for about six weeks. Each day you’ll feel stronger and more like yourself, but you should never be afraid to call your doctor if you don’t feel like your recovery is going as planned.
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Lincoln, April 2020
- A spinal or epidural is usually used during a C-section so you can be awake for your baby’s arrival.
- Usually one support person is allowed in the operating room with you.
- After your surgery, it is important to take your pain medication to help with your recovery.