An emergency c-section may put a serious spanner in your birth plan, but it’s a common procedure, nonetheless. Here’s what to expect if your labour heads in this direction.
A caesarean or c-section refers to the delivery of a baby via an incision in the uterus. An emergency c-section is no different, except that it is a decision made quickly by medical staff in the event of a health risk to either mother or baby.
You may undergo the operation if:
- Baby’s heart rate rises or drops suddenly
- The umbilical cord is wrapped around the neck
- There are placenta complications
- Baby is measuring too large—or is stuck—to move through the birth canal
- Labour is progressing too slowly
- You are suffering from severe labour exhaustion, or you have severely high blood pressure
Inductions can also sometimes lead to emergency c-sections, as the sudden onset of contractions can mean baby is not quite ready to make an exit.
Babyology breaks down the process from start to birth:
“First, you’ll be given a ‘shower cap’ to put on your head and prepped for surgery. A catheter will be inserted (to ensure an empty bladder during the surgery), a spinal anaesthetic or epidural given (for which you sit on the bed, and they insert into your back) and a drip put into your arm. You’ll then be wheeled into the operating theatre along with your birthing partner (who can stay with you the whole time), and a screen placed above your belly for hygiene reasons.
In the room, there’s usually your doctor, their surgical assistant, an anaesthetist and one or two midwives. Your lower tummy will be cleaned with disinfectant and possibly shaved (if there is hair in the way), and then once they’ve checked that the anaesthetic has worked, they will perform two incisions in your abdomen and uterus to allow them to lift out your baby. You will feel this via tugging sensations, and if the baby has descended, they might require forceps to bring the baby back up. Some hospitals actually have camera TVs where you can see your baby being born – if you wish!”
The entire process typically takes 30 minutes max, and if all is good, you can soon snuggle with your baby.
Recovery tends to be longer with c-section delivery, given that it is surgery. It might be an hour before you regain feeling in your legs, but you’re given more time to recover in hospital than had you had a vaginal birth.
When you do come home, you’ll need to put off heavy lifting, exercise, and driving for approximately six weeks—but use the down time to rest, and get in copious uninterrupted baby cuddles.