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The Cesarean Delivery
by Rebecca Garland

Statistics state more than one in four births today is a cesarean delivery. Whether or not this is your preferred method of delivery, you should at least consider the likelihood of a C-section while at the same time doing what you can to prepare for the style of birth you’d like to have. A cesarean is major surgery and has additional risks and complications due to this, but when faced with an emergency or a labor that simply isn’t going the way it should a C-section might literally be a lifesaver.

Cesarean Deliveries
To deliver a baby via cesarean, you will be given a heavy dose of anesthesia. The preferred method of many doctors is a combination spinal and epidural where the spinal ensures you are numb from the chest down during surgery and the epidural gives you lasting pain relief after the spinal fades. If these methods aren’t effective or there isn’t time for the application, you may be put under general anesthesia. After the epidural is in place, you’ll also be given a catheter as your bladder must remain empty for the surgery.

After you are completely numb, the doctor will make an incision under the belly at the top of the pubic hair. Most doctors make this incision as small as possible to help hide it at a later date. Through this incision, the doctors will move the bladder, separate (not cut) the muscles and then cut through the uterus wall to retrieve your baby. Once baby is out, you will be given a chance to see and touch her before she is cleaned up in the nursery and observed for up to an hour.

The beginning of the surgery is much shorter than the end. After the baby is out, your doctor will take his time checking to be sure the placenta is delivered and there is no problem internally before stitching your uterus closed, replacing your muscle and bladder and then stitching your skin closed again.

Following a Cesarean Delivery
After you deliver, you’ll be taken back to a room for recovery and observation. You will likely have some shaking due to the anesthesia wearing off, and while you are dealing with that, your baby will be having her first bath and being weighed, measured and observed by nurses under the close supervision of your partner or family member. C-section babies must be watched closely for any fluid in their lungs as it is not squeezed out the way it normally would be in a vaginal birth.

After everyone checks out okay, you and your baby will be reunited and sent to a postpartum room for the next three to five days. You will have the first day to rest, but the second will begin recovery – including standing up to walk. The more you move following a c-section delivery (within reason) the faster you’re able to heal and return to normal. You will initially be hampered by IV bags and your walking epidural, but after a time, you’ll be up and shuffling around with the rest of the recovering mothers enjoying hospitality from the many doctors and nurses constantly present around you.

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