Caesarean Sections


There’s not a lot you can control whilst in labour. The baby might not want to come out yet or may want to enter this world a little early or a little late. Some labours are quick and easy, some are long and complicated. It’s worth remembering that no two labours are the same, even for the same woman. If the time comes and you either elect for a cesarean or have an emergency section, then one thing is for sure - you’re not alone. 1 in 4 births occur this way and are widely performed across the UK, so you’re in safe hands.

Here’s a list of things you should know ahead of your due date about cesarean sections:

You’re Consulted at Every Turn

The doctors and midwives will explain everything to you in detail - the risks, the eventualities, the options you have and make sure you fully understand everything before deciding. If you have a specific birthing plan you’d like them to follow, make sure this is communicated to them upon arrival and double-check they are aware of it as you get closer to birth.

You Won’t Feel a Thing

During most c-sections, you’re given a regional anaesthetic, which numbs you from the breasts down. This allows you to remain awake during the procedure. It also means you can have your birthing partner in theatre with you for support, to cut the cord and hold the baby, as they would during a vaginal delivery, until you’re able to sit up again. Whilst surgeons are accessing the baby through your lower abdomen and subsequently stitch you back up, you won’t feel any pain, even if you’re awake the whole time. Sometimes you’re even able to watch the surgery on a monitor so you can watch your little one enter this world. Common choices for anaesthesia include a spinal block and an epidural block. In some emergency cases, however, general anaesthesia is needed, and your partner may not be allowed to be with you.

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Recovery is Slow

A c-section is a major surgery. Your surgeon must cut through and sew up 7 layers made up of skin, fascia, and muscle, therefore it's normal to feel a little shaky and uncomfortable after the procedure. Most women are sent home within a few days, and once you’re home, it can take your body months to completely heal. Even then, your muscles will be continuing to strengthen over the months to come.

The healing process can also be quite painful, especially when standing or sitting down, or lifting/holding a baby. You'll need to take care not to put pressure on your lower abdomen.

You’ll Need Lots of Rest

Rest when your baby rests - though unrealistic, it's great advice when it comes to caesarean recovery. Healing from this major surgery can take a while, so make sure you listen to your midwife about the dos and don’ts post-birth. Lifting heavy objects (including the baby) or pushing yourself too much can cause significant discomfort and slow down the healing process. Do your best to take some time out to heal. Another little tip is to hold onto your incision site when you cough or sneeze, but most of all, look after your body.

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Vaginal Births are Still an Option for Your Next Pregnancy

VBACs - (Vaginal births after caesarean) are quite common in second and third pregnancies. Compared with undergoing a second caesarean, a VBAC would mean a faster recovery and a shorter hospital stay. VBAC might also appeal to you if you wanted a vaginal birth initially but were unable to for whatever reason.

If you opt for a VBAC, you will be advised to have your baby on the obstetric-led unit so that you and your baby can be monitored closely. Having a vaginal birth after a caesarean does however carry a slightly increased risk of uterine rupture (>0.5%). This is where the caesarean scar on the uterus can break open and requires an emergency c-section to get the baby out safely. For the majority of mums-to-be however, a vaginal birth following a previous caesarean is completely safe and studies suggest it is safer that a repeat c-section - so definitely something to consider.

Overall, c-section recovery will be slower than a vaginal birth, however, the easier you take things in the earlier days, the quicker your recovery will be. Continue with gentle movement, but don't overdo it.

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