What should happen before, during and after a caesarean

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Going through a c-section is a major surgical operation. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the dangers, but also the correct procedures that the hospital and medical professionals should follow.

What should happen before a C section?

Prior to any planned caesareans, you should be offered a preoperative appointment at the hospital around a week before your due date. This appointment is where you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the procedure, as well as have a blood test to ensure you are not suffering from a low red blood count, known as anaemia.

On the day of the procedure, you should be offered a variety of medications including the likes of antibiotics, anti-sickness medication (anti-emetics) as well as drugs which act to reduce the acidity in your stomach. You should also be asked to sign a consent form ahead of the procedure.

You should stop eating and drinking a few hours prior to your procedure, with a GP or doctor providing advice on when exactly this is appropriate.


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What should happen during a C section?

The procedure begins with you lying down on the operating table, which may be angled slightly, with a screen placed over the stomach to obscure your view of the operation. This would be the case if you are awake for the operation, however, in some instances, you may be advised to have a general anaesthetic.

A 10-20cm incision will then be made into your belly, traditionally in a horizontal fashion below the bikini line, although it may also be made vertically from the belly button downwards. The baby is then delivered through this gap, a process which normally takes about 5-10 minutes and during which it is normal for the mother to feel some tugging.

The baby should then be lifted up and brought closer to you immediately afterwards so you can meet each other. At this point, you should also be injected with a hormone known as oxytocin, which encourages the womb to contract and acts to reduce the amount of blood you are likely to lose.

Your womb should then be closed using only dissolvable stitches, whilst your belly may be closed using either dissolvable stitches or medical staples – which must be removed a few days thereafter.

Generally speaking, the procedure may last around 40-50 minutes, with you being moved to the recovery room straight after.


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C section aftercare

In the immediate aftermath of C-section delivery, you should be allowed to recover from the anaesthetic before being offered painkillers to address the discomfort you may be feeling.

You may also be offered special means to reduce the risks of blood clots, including the likes of compression stockings as well as blood-thinning medication. You should be provided with food and/or water as soon as you feel hungry.

If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you will be offered help and advice with this. Then, as long as you are able to walk, the catheter should be removed from your bladder 12-18 hours post-procedure.

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