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Reasons for Procedure
- Large baby
- Pregnancy with twins or more
- Baby is not in a head-down position
- Maternal medical conditions, for example, diabetes , high blood pressure , active herpes infection, or HIV infection
- Problem with the position of the placenta
- Failure of labor to progress
- Baby shows signs of distress, such as an abnormal heart rate during labor
- Previous cesarean birth
- Fetal problems
- Decreased bowel function
- Damage to other organs in the abdomen
- Longer hospital stay and recovery time
- Bad reactions to anesthesia
- Risk of additional surgeries, including hysterectomy , bladder repair, or repeat C-sections with future pregnancies
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- General anesthesia—You will be asleep during the procedure.
- Regional anesthesia such as epidural or spinal block—An area of your body will be numb, but you will be awake.
Description of the Procedure
Immediately After Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
Average Hospital Stay
- Very soon after birth, your baby may be placed on your chest. This skin-to-skin contact may lead to improved breastfeeding success.
- You may need help learning breastfeeding positions. The correct position will keep you from putting too much pressure on your incision.
- You may need medication to help with nausea or pain.
- You will likely experience some uterine cramping and pain.
- You may be on a clear liquid diet after surgery. You will advance to a normal diet as you are able.
- Your bowels will work more slowly than usual. Chewing gum may help speed the process of your bowel function returning to normal.
- You may be given special compression stockings. They will help to decrease the possibility of blood clots forming in your legs.
- You will be encouraged to walk very soon after surgery. You will be asked not to lift anything heavier than your baby.
- For lung health, you may be asked to use an incentive spirometer and cough often. These steps will help you breathe deeply.
- After any delivery, there will be moderate-to-heavy vaginal bleeding. You will need to use an absorbent sanitary napkin.
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for the first weeks after surgery.
- Do not drive until your doctor says it is all right to do so.
- Ask your doctor when it is safe to shower, bathe, or soak in water.
- Delay having sexual intercourse or putting any objects in the vagina until you have had your 6-week check-up.
- Breastfeeding is encouraged.
- Consider joining a support group for new mothers. You can get encouragement and learn new parenting strategies.
Call Your Doctor
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Excessive bleeding, redness, swelling, increasing pain, or discharge from the incision site
- Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you've been given
- Swelling and/or pain in one or both legs
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, rash, or other new symptoms
- Lightheadedness faintness
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
American Pregnancy Association http://www.americanpregnancy.org
Canadian Women's Health Network http://www.cwhn.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
Cesarean birth. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq006.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130719T1543190286. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Cesarean procedure. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/cesarean-procedure. Updated January 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.
Cesarean section. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 16, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2013.
7/21/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: De Luca R, Boulvain M, et al. Incidence of early neonatal mortality and morbidity after late-preterm and term cesarean delivery. Pediatrics. 2009;123:e1064-1071.
10/23/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Abd-El-Maeboud KH, Ibrahim MI, et al. Gum chewing stimulates early return of bowel motility after caesarean section. BJOG. 2009;116:1334-1339.
12/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what : Marín Gabriel M, Llana Martín I, et al. Randomized controlled trial of early skin-to-skin contact: Effects on the mother and the newborn. Acta Paediatr. 2010;99(11):1630-1634.
6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.
3/11/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Girsen AI, Osmundson SS, et al. Body mass index and operative times at cesarean delivery. Obstet Gynecol. 2014;124(4):684-689.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015 -
- Update Date: 03/11/2015 -