Cesarean sections, commonly known as C-sections, are how nearly 1/3 of babies are born every day in the United States. They are performed for a variety of reasons, including babies who are positioned the wrong way (such as breech), fetal stress during labor or for women that have had a C-section in the past and are having a repeat C-section for this delivery.
“Sometimes they’re performed if the mother is delivering multiples or has a medical condition, such as severe preeclampsia,” says Dr. April Herbst. “Ideally, we like to see a mother deliver vaginally, but sometimes that’s just not in the best interest for the mother and baby, and their health and safety are the first priority.”
For women that will be having a C-section, Dr. Herbst shares some good things to know beforehand, both from her professional knowledge and experiencing it personally.
- “You are allowed to have someone in the operating room with you, but not until everything is absolutely ready to go. Women should feel prepared to enter the operating room without their support person at first, and can expect several other people there for support in the meantime. The operating room is a bright white and sterile room that may be a bit chilly. There will be a lot of people dressed in surgical attire, compiled of your Obstetrician, Anesthesiologist, Baby Care Team, surgical personnel and nurses. They will serve as your group of highly trained specialists, all focused on the safety of you and your baby.
- The Anesthesiologist is your friend. They provide you the pain relief you need for your birth by placing medication, either an epidural or spinal tap, in your back so you can be awake to experience those first sweet moments with your baby. In a true, unscheduled emergency, you may be put to sleep with general anesthesia for your delivery, as it can be the fastest and safest way to deliver your baby.
- After you have the medication placed in your back you will have a catheter placed in your bladder and then you will see a big blue drape come up. We make sure you are comfortable with the anesthesia medication prior to starting surgery, and most women can’t even tell surgery has started. You may feel tugging, pulling or pressure as the baby is being delivered from the uterus, but will not experience any sharp pains.
- A common concern is that you won’t get that initial skin-to-skin with baby after the delivery, but as long as there are no major complications, you’ll get that special time very soon after the baby is delivered. You can usually see your baby right away, and then baby will be checked over by the team of doctors and nurses to be sure baby is healthy and happy before he/she is swaddled and brought back over for you to adore and love. During this time, your surgeon will be carefully repairing your belly. Breastfeeding can start as soon as you get to the recovery room and it’s helpful be aware of a few breastfeeding pitfalls women come across, regardless of how you deliver. I strongly recommend reaching out for help if you’re feeling discouraged or experiencing pain while breastfeeding.
- Following your surgery, you will have many milestones in your recovery. Remember, it is a major surgical procedure and many tasks, such as getting out of bed the first time and going to the bathroom, may not be easy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your support person or the team of specialists taking care of you. While the first six to eight weeks are important for recovery and we do place restrictions on your activities to allow you to heal, it is also important to get up and move around to prevent blood clots and pneumonia. Moving around also helps you get back to your normal routine and activities sooner.
- When discussing your mode of delivery with your doctor it is important to understand the benefits and potential risks of the different delivery methods. Every woman’s pregnancy and delivery is unique and the best option for mom and baby should be discussed with their OB/GYN doctor.
You should feel comfortable raising any questions or concerns you have about having a Cesarean section with your OB/GYN doctor,” says Dr. Herbst. “And you should trust that they always have the best interest of you and your baby in mind. Delivering a newborn baby into the world, however that may happen, is absolutely the most rewarding part of my job. At the end of the day, I want every patient to feel comfortable and confident with any health decisions we reach together.”