What really happens during a C-section

I find it absolutely appalling that many childbirth “education” classes don’t cover Caesarian sections (C/S) or gloss over them.  Statistically, 20-30% of women will have an operative birth.  Birth, by the way, is thus defined by the free dictionary, “the emergence and separation of offspring from the body of the mother.”  Birth does not require that you squeeze that baby out of your hoo-hoo in front of a lot of women who are chanting and celebrating their “woo.”

Anyway…

I’ve been in the room for C/S in about 5 different hospitals so far and I’m going to give you a blow-by-blow of  how they go down.  Of course, regional differences exist in terms of procedures and policies, so your C/S may (have been/ be) slightly different.  Some women will have positive experiences and memories of their C/S, some will have negative.  That goes for partners and support people too.

Before you even get to the OR tons of preparation goes on…the room is cleaned and sanitized.  Surgical supplies and instruments are brought up from the “sterile core” and counted.  The anesthesia machine and equipment is checked and drugs are prepared.  Your anesthesiologist will speak with you about your health, your pregnancy and your anesthetic.  This consult can take anywhere from 30 minutes for an elective or semi-urgent C/S  to 30 seconds if it’s a true emergency.

When the star of the show (that’s you mom!) is brought in, you’ll have some monitors placed:

a pulse oximeter to measure your oxygen saturation and heart rate

a blood pressure cuff to measure your blood pressure

three to five ECG patches to monitor your heart

an external fetal heart rate monitor if you are having a C/S for fetal distress

Next, you’ll receive an anesthetic.  For most mom’s that will be a spinal (injection into the back) or via an epidural (a top-up if an epidural is already in place).  Rarely, a general anesthetic will be used.  A spinal or an epidural can be placed with you sitting up and curled forward (like a panda bear) or with you on your side curled in the fetal position.  If you are obese or have scoliosis it is much easier for the anesthesiologist to find the right spot if you are sitting up.  One of the labour and delivery nurses or OR nurses will be in front of you, helping you to get into the best position and supporting you.  The anesthesiologist will wash your back off with antiseptic solution.  This contains alcohol and it feels really really cold.  In my experience, women having contractions will sometimes not notice this step but almost all other women will jump so I warn everybody.  Next, some local anesthetic, like lidocaine, will be used to numb the skin.  After that, a longer needle will be used to find the epidural or spinal space and medication (for a spinal) will be injected or a catheter (for an epidural) will be placed.  Most women won’t feel anything other than a little pressure with this longer needle.  I was one of those women, I didn’t feel anything at all after the numbing medication was used in my skin.

Once the anesthetic is placed, things start to happen rather quickly.  You’ll be helped to lie down on your back.  Accept this help because your legs will start to feel quite weak.  A wedge will be placed under your right side to shift your uterus to the left so it doesn’t compress your large abdominal blood vessels.  Some temporary drapes will be placed while an OR nurse places a urinary catheter.  You might feel like you don’t want a catheter but draining the bladder is an essential step to make the surgery easier for the surgeon and safer for you and the catheter will be removed after the procedure is over.

Next, your abdomen will be washed with antiseptic solution to sterilize the skin and sterile drapes will be placed by the surgeon and his or her assistants.  At this time the anesthesiologist will be working hard to monitor your response to the spinal or epidural injection.

Your support person/ partner is now invited into the OR.  They are given a stool placed by your head where they can hold your hand and the two of you can speak easily.  It’s not common to have more than one support person in the OR because there just isn’t space for more than one person plus the anesthesiologist plus the anesthetic equipment up by your head.  Some hospitals and surgeons will accommodate maternal musical requests.  Some women find it helpful to have a picture of their family, other children or sonogram placed on their chest to look at during the procedure.  No one will accommodate low lighting because the surgeons and operative nurses need to see what they are doing.

The surgeons will test to make sure you are numb before they do anything.  You should expect to feel pressure and pulling sensations but nothing sharp.  They will get down to the uterus and make an incision in it…then they will pull the baby out.  Often a bit of pressure on your upper abdomen/ lower chest helps them with this step and they will warn you when this is about to happen.  Sometimes they are so intent on what they are doing that they forget.  That’s when I take over.  Part of my job is to support you through the procedure and that means explaining what is happening.  That pressure can be pretty intense.  If you’ve been labouring or pushing for a while before the C/S that baby’s head can be wedged pretty far down in your pelvis.

The baby comes out, the cord is clamped and cut, and the baby is handed off to a member of the “baby team” in a way that keeps the OB sterile.  Many OBs will hold the baby up over the drapes so that mom can see it before handing it off.  Your support person is usually invited to look over the drapes so they can see the birth.  Different hospitals have different policies regarding filming parts of the procedure.  Pictures are usually always welcomed.

One great thing is that ORs are now being designed and set up so that the mom can see the baby team and the baby bassinet so that the baby is not out of her site at all from the moment he or she is born to the moment he or she is brought over to the mom.  I think that is a great improvement and really reassuring to moms.  After being checked out, the baby will be swaddled (the ORs are pretty chilly and we don’t want him or her to get too cold) and brought over to mom.  We try to place the baby on mom’s chest and have the dad or other mom or support person help to hold him or her there so that the family can get to know each other.  Sometimes dads fall in love so quickly with their baby that they stand there holding him or her and cooing and forget that mom wants to see and touch the baby too.  That’s also when I’ll step in or on of the OR or LDR nurses will because mom and baby need to get together as soon as possible.  Sometimes the anesthetic monitors and cords make it difficult for mom to get her hands on the baby.  I try to facilitate this as much as possible.  I wish we had reliable cordless monitors.

If mom is doing well, we leave things like this until the end of the procedure or until the baby’s vital signs need to be checked again.  Most anesthesiologists will take some family pictures but sometimes we are busy doing other things to look after you.

Once all the stitches are in place and the dressing is applied, the drapes come down.  Everyone admires the baby.  Mom is moved to a stretcher and the baby is placed on her chest for the ride to the recovery room.  In the recovery room, after vital signs are taken on mom and baby, skin to skin happens as soon as possible and, if mom wants, she can nurse her brand new child.  Unlike with every other surgery we do on adults, we allow a support person to be with mom and baby in the recovery room.

I`ve just re-read what I`ve written and it sounds really dry and sterile…but I have a confession for you.  When a baby is born in the OR I tear up each and every time.  It is beautiful and wonderful and miraculous.  Every single time.

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24 comments

  1. I would love to include some pictures taken during C-sections in this post but feel kind of strange stealing random pictures that belong to other people off google image search given that its such a wonderful moment that belongs to them. If you have any pictures of your family that you would like to share, I would love it if you would post them as comments or send them to me and I will add them!

    1. Great description!

  2. Michelle · · Reply

    Yup, that sounds about right! You left out some of the psychology that happens in the room, though. I found that, as the person who was closest to me physically and who actually put their hands on me first, the anesthesiologist was incredibly astute regarding my state of mind and how to help me. Granted, maybe I had an awesome one, but I suspect that the field itself attracts those wishing to alleviate pain and suffering. I work in a lab and cracked a joke about bupivicaine and some of it’s properties (I was nervous, give me a break!) and as he prepped my back we discussed my research. Next thing you know, my feet were warm and numb.

    As an aside, I didn’t feel any pushing. My baby was high and transverse, behind a anterior previa. I could feel the nerves in the OR crackling as they did the section, but it went smoothly. Lemme dig through my husband’s phone- there’s a picture in there somewhere.

    Oh- my nose got super stuffy as the anesthetic took effect. I really had to concentrate on breathing as my chest felt very heavy, too. I threw up just a little when my blood pressure dropped (common) but they saw it start and gave me some medicine to help counter theis and it went away very fast. All I could taste was the tart antacid they gave me before we started, and it really wasn’t a big deal.

    Just a little addition to your very nice post!

    1. Thanks for your comment. Your perspective is so valuable – I’ve been in the OR during probably 500 c/s but I’ve never had one so I can’t really know what its like for the mom.

      We have to numb you up to the nipple line and that means all your intercostal muscles (between the ribs) get frozen too. They don’t contribute very much to breathing, but when they stretch they tell your brain that air is going in and out. When those signals get interrupted by the spinal or epidural, the brain no longer gets feedback and it feels like breathing is shallow. I’ll get my patients to put their hand over their mouth and nose so they can feel the air move which seems to help.

  3. I will have to dig up some of my pictures. I had 4 c-sections, so I got to be a bit of a pro about them. Sometimes you will get the shivvers and they are more than happy to get you warm blanket to help with that. I got progressively more queasy with each one. My last one I threw up a lot and was not interested in any sort of skin to skin with my daughter until I felt less queasy and tired (the meds they gave me wiped me out). I too have to give a shout out to my anesthesiologists. They did everything possible to make sure I was comfortable and had every itch scratched. My last one there was an ipod in the room and he even switched songs from the one that was playing and irritating me. I wanted something more upbeat and not a stupid sappy song.

    One thing for the after a c-section is to make sure you take your medication on a schedule and get up and moving as soon as possible. That really helped me with the pain and I was on minimal meds by the time I got out of the hospital. Also make sure that you eat a lot of fiber before you go in for a planned c-section, it makes the post surgery poop go a ton better.

  4. Rebecca · · Reply

    Terrific post! I second Michelle’s comment that the anesthesiologist or anesthetist can be the mother’s lifeline during the surgery. In my hospital, the father and baby leave pretty soon after delivery with the pediatrician, so that baby is all cleaned up and checked out once mom is out of recovery. (Obviously I did not get skin-to-skin until I was out of recovery). It can be a little lonely waiting for the OB to finish putting you back together, so it’s nice to have someone friendly sitting by. I also went hypotensive during both of my c-sections. The second time, it was before the baby was even out, so I was really upset when I felt it coming! I only managed to get out the words “I feel….” and then went blank trying to find a word to describe it. (“I feel like the earth just fell out from under me” is still the best I can come up with). But no worries, my anesthetist already knew exactly what was going on and fixed me up. Later on I started feeling a little anxiety and was able to joke around with him, and that helped too. So in my book, you all are the unsung heroes of the c-section mothers.

  5. Patient notes:

    I love the ana! My gosh, everyone else is at the other end and the ana is the only person up by my head. Everyone else is watching the procedure, he’s the only one watching me. (Or she.)

    Notes on meds: I prefer the epidural. I had an epidural with my first very emergent c-section, and while it was “less profound” it also took less time to wear off, which means less time fretting in Recovery. My spinal took so long to wear off, that the second I could finally feel ANYTHING at all, they took me to my room. ( I was under the impression they actually wanted the patient to be able to move their legs, not just feel sensation on their toes.) Recovery is very boring.

    Meds to control your blood pressure wear off while in Recovery and the effect is very unsettling. Although the monitors showed everything within acceptable limits, it felt like my blood pressure and heart rate rose and I had some minutes of anxiety.

    I was very anxious for my scheduled section but it wasn’t until the baby was born (and peed on the OB ) that I started feeling nauseated. I asked the ana “Why now? I didn’t feel anything before.”. He explained that the actual incision and extraction don’t cause the nausea, but the removal of the placenta and checking of organs that causes it. So ironically, it is when your baby is out and you can finally meet it, trying to stifle the urge to vomit interferes with that experience. Once I told him I was feeling queasy, he asked me if I wanted something for it and I said “Yes, please!”. Yay for anas!

    (So what if it anti-nausea meds make me a little sleepy? It beats trying to keep my head perfectly still because the slightest movement causes my gorge to rise.)

    They offered to let me watch the scheduled surgery, but I declined. Even if I couldn’t feel anything, the idea that it was ME, MY BODY they were doing that to was too much for me.

    1. Sometimes the OB pulls the uterus up to sew it or check behind it or check the ovaries (externalizing the uterus). This puts traction on the peritoneum which can cause a vagal reaction including nausea. After low blood pressure caused by the spinal, this is probably the second most common cause of nausea during a C/S.

      Most of the unpleasant things you experience during a c/s can be help with either drugs or distraction/ conversation so always, please speak up and let your anesthesiologist know what is going on…we can help you and we love making patients feel better!

  6. A great comment about how C-sections are not adequately covered in childbirth preparation classes, particularly, as you said, because about 1/3 mothers will have one. I also think the lack of information about C-sections makes patients terrified of them – C-sections are often treated like the bogeyman of obstetrics! It’s sad, because C-sections can be necessarily to protect/save the lives of mothers and babies. As a psychologist who works with families/parents, I think arming parents with more good information would make everything better. Oh, and that you are not ‘inadequate’ if you have a C-section!!

  7. Where I delivered, all twins are delivered in the OR. My childbirth instructor, in a class for twins/multiples, did a very helpful demonstration of how many people would be in the OR for a vaginal birth, c-section, and with/without potential NICU involvement. As she explained each role, she asked people in the class to stand up and stay standing. During my delivery, there was a moment in the transition from failed vaginal delivery to emergent c-section that I looked around the room and counted them off. We had three OBs, one anesthesiologist, my OB nurse, two OR nurses, and two two-person teams from the NICU. While in class, the sheer number of potential participants had seemed a little overwhelming; during the moment, it was incredibly reassuring. Of course, we hit most of the “if’s” (twins, pre-eclampsia, prematurity, one baby with known health issues) and so the more people, the merrier. I could easily have missed people in my count after twenty-four hours of labor, most of it on mag.

    I also want to echo Rebecca and Michelle’s comments about how great a good anesthesiologist is. The human touch (hand on my shoulder) combined with an explanation of what was happening helped to alleviate what little stress I had after we switched from vaginal delivery to c-section. (Frankly, I was just ready for the babies to be born already. How they arrived was irrelevant.) It also helped that he had had the time to explain the whole process to me the night before when he put in my epidural. I felt informed and well taken care of, an excellent mix.

    1. That’s a very good point about the number of people in the room! The minimum would be: one anesthesiologist, one OB, one surgical assistant to the OB, one scrub nurse, one circulating nurse, your labour and delivery nurse, and then one doctor to look after the baby (from the NICU or pediatrics or family practice). In cases with multiples like yours, there are a lot more. Each person in the room has a very specific job to do. If you are in a teaching hospital, there will be learners involved as well (residents and/ or medical students). Learners are often great additions to the team as they are generally really keen and empathetic, but if you are an extermely interesting case (say you have quintuplets or are a relatively rare vaginal breech delivery) and you are finding that the number of learners in the room is getting gratuitous, feel free to tell a bunch of them to bugger off.

      1. Michelle · · Reply

        The number of people in the room varies madly. My OB expected complications with my CS (earlier I mentioned the anterior previa, transverse lie) and so we had the two most senior OB surgeons in the hospital there, the ana, and I recall at least 4 nurses around the table, and there were 2-3 more that worked with the baby. One nurse seemed to be in charge of blood (they prepped me for the possibility to a major hemorrhage due to the positional issues, and I imagine some blood may have been prepped for the baby, as well).

        It truly is remarkable and humbling the effort that goes into a safe and controlled surgical birth.

  8. VeritasLiberat · · Reply

    I could have used a post like the above before my first, unplanned C-section. The childbirth educator made out like it would be the worst thing in the world, and it really was not all that bad. I was up and walking around in a few hours, and off painkillers after 3 days. The most traumatic part of the entire hospital experience was having to listen to the woman down the hall scream her way through natural childbirth. That really made me freak out, because I have heard nothing like it except in horror movies, right before the victim dies.

    1. VeritasLiberat · · Reply

      And both my kids nursed just fine. The only problem was getting them to wean at around two. The older one objected but had no choice because supply disappeared. The younger one was really verbal really early and would argue with me.

  9. Coreena · · Reply

    I had an emergency c section.. Everything wanted to go wrong. The epidural during live birth only numbed half my body then when they upped the dose, my body stopped dilating. So when the pitosin failed (my baby reacted poorly to it), they rushed me to the OR. There, I reacted poorly to the drug they used to numb the incision site… I could feel them cutting me. They gave me more of the drug and I slipped into a dream state. I flatlined. I dreamt of my life, past present and future. I came too on my own once I heard my baby crying… My teeth chattered hard as I came off all the drugs.. But I was happy. Didn’t know I flatlined until my baby’s dad told me. Still, it was an interesting and chaotic experience.

  10. […] the incision is okay. But really, this is one more reason for me to look forward to trying a VBAC. The Adequate Mother gives a more detailed description of a c-section – much more accurate than my ‘drugged […]

  11. Tessa Tewksbury · · Reply

    I am having a very difficult time finding a doctor/hospital combination that will allow for a family centered cesarean, as you described. With my first csection, the baby was placed next to my head for just a moment, and then taken away to the nursery. I did not see him for two hours. With my second, baby was kept in OR with my husband or in a warmer, but I could not see him, only hear him, as the warmer was located beneath my feet in the room and the drapes blocked my view. Still, not being left entirely alone, I felt a little more pleased with that. With my first, I was in tears and severely traumatized by both my husband and baby leaving me for hours. I was very angry that I was not allowed to hold my baby. This time, I’m trying my best to plan accordingly (I’ve switched twice now, anticipating having to switch at least one more time) to get my “Family Centered Cesarean.” It is NOT routine here to allow mother to see baby or allow baby and husband to stay in the OR, and I usually get looks like I have 3 heads when I ask for skin to skin during the surgery after the baby has been examined and found to be healthy.

    Could you give some advice or guidance to someone like me that has been attempting and failing to convince doctors to bring this up with L&D nurses and anesthesiologists. Their main concerns seem to be the ECG leads. I’ve read some anesthesiologists say these leads can be placed on the back instead of the chest, and not compromise my safety. You here say they were on the chest, but still allow for mother to hold baby? Is there anything else I could be doing as far as presenting information to my doctor or the hospital team to advocate for myself, my baby, and our experience? I will be soon touring the hospital and my supportive doctor (who is unsure the hospital – or more specifically, the anesthesiologist – will allow for me to have skin to skin with my baby) has actually set up a time for me to speak one and one with L&D nurses. I hope to go in prepared with information to calm any concerns they may have about changing procedure and ensuring that a FAmily Centered Cesarean does not compromise mom or baby safety.

    1. Unless you have a history of cardiac disease, most anesthesiologists will use a three lead EKG monitor. Two of these leads can be placed on just behind your shoulders while the third is generally placed on your left side, kind of where your bra strap would be at the left side of your breast. With the leads placed here they do not get in the way of skin to skin and are still effective for monitoring heart rate, rhythm, and ST segment changes.

      I place the IV and blood pressure cuff on the same arm. Some anesthesiologists might consider this a safety concern…if your blood pressure fell, for example, they would have concerns about being able to adequately resuscitate through the IV line with intermittent cuff inflation. My response would be to just move the cuff to the other side in that situation. I also use a lot of phenylephrine infusions just after spinal block placement to prevent low blood pressure so I don’t find I’m actively “resuscitating” very often in a c/s. In a woman with higher bleeding risk, ie previa or known accreta, I wouldn’t put both the IV and BP on the same arm.

      I put the pulse oximeter on a toe or use an ear probe so that one less thing impedes your arms as you hold your baby.

      Skin to skin in the OR might require the OB and surgical assistant to be mindful of where they are placing their instruments on your chest so that there is more real estate for the baby.

      Hospitals that do not allow the support person and the infant to stay with the mother during the remainder of the c/s generally do so because of problems with staffing the recovery room. Usually this is because they don’t have an area that is segregated enough from the other surgical patients and so feel uncomfortable having the support person in there (for confidentiality and safety reasons). You will have one recovery nurse looking after you and to keep the baby with you without having your husband there would mean having another nurse there to look after the baby (it’s 1:1 care for the first little while). We get around this by having a segregated area for families and relying on the support person to provide and assist with baby care in the recovery area. Some hospital recover c/s patients directly back in their LDR room. In that case there would be absolutely no need to separate you.

      As far as getting the anesthesiologists on board, ask your supportive doctor to talk to the head of the department. There may also be a division head of obstetrical anesthesia that could be approached. All you need to do is find one that is supportive and request that person be scheduled on the day of your procedure rather than some crusty provider who doesn’t want to change.

      In the event of an emergency c/s or onset of labor prior to scheduled c/s, even the best laid plans may not bring the outcome you want.

  12. Thank you for this nice post, even though I see it’s a couple of years old. I had a planned c-section because of my son’s breech position, and indeed this possibility had not been covered in my birthing class. At first I was disappointed to learn that I would not be able to have a vaginal birth, but after a little adjustment period I came to feel fine about it. The actual birth turned out to be a really positive experience, and I am not sorry at all that I didn’t get to (have to?) go through labor. One thing that helped was there was something very nice in my IV…Duramorph, I think? I felt euphoric and very relaxed throughout the procedure. The anesthesiologist warned me that my breathing would feel shallow, and I did feel that, but I just concentrated on taking slow, deep breaths and felt calm about it. I was surprised at how the spinal anesthetic felt…it was exactly like being numbed at the dentist, except through my whole lower body. I knew that it had taken effect when my chilly feet and legs started to feel nice and warm. At one point I started to feel “less present”; I said this out loud, and the anesthesiologist reassured me that this was normal and that I could fall asleep if I needed to. He also invited me to squeeze my fist to feel more grounded, which helped me come back to earth (maybe he was also doing some work of his own, I don’t know). I came away feeling very warm and fuzzy toward him, he did a great job.

    One unexpected thing was that my arms were strapped down. I did not notice or care, but my husband found it creepy. A nurse held the baby to my chest, next to my face, while I was being stitched up. It was amazing. Between the drugs and my absorption with the baby, I honestly have no idea how much time passed…it could have been ten minutes or a hundred years. One funny thing is that my glasses were left on, so there I am in all the photos still wearing my glasses.

    The worst part of the whole thing was having the IV placed in my hand. And in recovery, the absolute worst thing was getting up to pee for the first time after having the catheter removed. I was not able to sense how full my bladder was, and trying to stand up with a full bladder pressing on the incision was absolutely excruciating. My husband had to basically bear-hug me out of the bed, not to mention helping me sit down and stand up and dealing with the bloody pad. Never thought he’d have to get quite so cozy with my bodily functions!

  13. This is pretty accurate. I, unfortunately, threw on while on the table. The poor nurse or Ana got the worst of it! Good news is I felt it coming on and let the doc know I was going to be sick. (I didn’t want a slip of the knife!) also, the cath coming out after, is very uncomfortable. With
    two C sections I had two different experiences with staples being taken out by the nurses. The first one yanked, without warning, the tape off prior to removing them. My second c section, the nurse was super gentle and could not believe a nurse did that as my jerking could have pulled internal stitches. Beyond this, the staff was, both times, wonderful!

  14. Yes, I also agree with your partner/husband helping to the bathroom and the changing of the pads. Oh well, the least they could do, after all you just had surgery to have their baby.:-)

  15. BettyUK · · Reply

    Unfortunately in the US where I lived this is not the case. As it is standard practise in America to strap the arms down during C Sections. This is not done at all in any UK hospitals but it seems America and Canada are way behind the times when it comes to maternity care. I have never had a C Section but ones of my friends in the US did, she said they strapped her arms down even though she told them she did not want it. That’s not medical care that’s cruelty.
    BettyUK

    1. Asmommy · · Reply

      I had my arms lightly strapped down. Good thing too since a side affect of the drugs is uncontrolled shaking as if freezing but not. I could move them a bit but would hate to have hit my baby during my kissing time with her. 3 weeks old now. I agree with much mentioned in the comments. I felt nauseous and it was a sign of my BP dropping or increasing… suddenly forgot. I mentioned it, had been warned about it and steps taken to help.
      Anyhow, my CS was great after a failed induction and excruciating pain, 5 try to get the epi, tacky baby, on O2, and more. My team was great. My LD’s are always something. 3rd baby 10 lbs 5.4oz

  16. I had a c-section scheduled for 38+4 in Australia for my first (transverse baby, geriatric mother, general wish to keep my internal organs from falling out of my vagina unlike my poor mum), though my waters broke at 38 weeks so technically not planned?

    At our all-day antenatal class I was one of two already knowing we’d have a section. The other young woman had placenta praevia and received much sympathy. I didn’t volunteer my birthing plan. For a hospital course I was (naively?) surprised how crunchy things went. The midwife was an older, sturdy, humorous sort with an amusing anecdote for most situations. She spoke a great deal about mindfulness, demonstrated hip-rocking and breathing techniques to get through early labour, and clearly leaned away from pain relief towards a natural approach. When pressed with questions by the one other older mother in the group about what can go wrong, she replied, “You can know too much.” Followed that up by saying a small percentage of women experienced difficulties but think positively and you would hope to not be one of them. An astounding statement.

    None of this was relevant to me so I waited for the information on c-sections. When it came it was brief. She explained how section babies tend to be born lethargic and limp compared to vaginal births, and how there are so many people in the room compared to just one or two. We watched a short comparison clip between a heavenly vaginal birth overplayed by magical music, and a c-section, with the midwife pointing out during the latter how much less responsive that baby was (I couldn’t see any difference myself).

    I read Pauline Hull’s book, ‘Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan’, which was a tremendous help explaining the differences between emergency and scheduled c-sections.

    My section went very smoothly. DH was there the whole time. The mood was calm. All the staff were supportive and warm, chatting to keep me distracted from the spinal. The anaesthetist couldn’t have been kinder. I did start to feel a little sleepy for a short time. I have low blood pressure generally. She said afterwards she had to work quite hard to keep it up. No pain or nausea, just enormous relief when they pulled the baby out from under my ribs and I could breathe fully for the first time in months.

    The most shocking moment came when the ob held my bellowing 6lb 12oz son above the screen. Having expected this limp, chilled baby DH and I shrank back in alarm. He was the noisiest, angriest, most vigorous baby, nothing like what we’d seen in the film at our class, arriving like a hurricane. He was put on my chest and I held him with my free arm, tearing up in complete shock. With an apgar of 9 he couldn’t have been more responsive, going to the breast in recovery like a champion. We supplemented with formula at 8 weeks due to my low supply (I exclusively pumped from then). He’s nearly 18 months old now and never had any of the health issues I’d read/fretted about prior to giving birth. Had one minor sniffle he hardly noticed. Energetic, smart, healthy and built like a whippet (like his father).

    I was up and about walking the next morning. Off the major meds by the end of the week and off paracetamol and driving by the end of the second. My story is a positive one and I have no regrets. I’m booked in for another c-section next week. Sensible blogs such as this and Amy Tuteur’s are an invaluable resource, thank you!

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