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In cesarean birth, a baby is delivered through an incision made in the abdomen and uterus. Sometimes a cesarean is planned before labor begins. Sometimes it becomes necessary during labor.
There are several reasons why it may be necessary to have a cesarean birth. These reasons include:
Spinal anesthesia or epidural anesthesia is used most often. These methods numb the body from the waist down. You are fully awake for the actual birth of your baby. The baby’s father or support person may stay with the mother during the cesarean delivery when spinal or epidural anesthesia is used.
If general anesthesia is used, you will be asleep during the delivery of your baby. The father or support person will not be permitted in the delivery room. But he or she will be able to see your baby shortly after delivery.
The anesthesia staff will give you oxygen through a plastic mask covering your nose and mouth. This will be removed after the baby is delivered. Someone will be with you during the entire procedure.
An incision is made through your abdomen and then through your uterus. There are 2 types of incisions. One is vertical and goes from the navel down to the pubic hairline. The other is horizontal or “bikini." It goes from side to side, just above the pubic hairline. Your doctor will decide which type of incision you need. Your baby and the placenta are then delivered through the incisions. They are stitched or stapled closed after your baby’s birth.
After your surgery is complete, and if conditions permit, you may hold your newborn. The nurses will closely check your progress and the baby’s.
As with other operations, you may be uncomfortable. Pain medicine will be available. You will need to ask for it. Be sure to ask for pain medicine before the pain becomes too severe.
You and your baby are usually discharged 2 to 3 days after the cesarean birth. You will be encouraged to make follow-up appointments for yourself and your baby before you leave the hospital. It is important to keep these appointments so your doctor can check your incision and your general health. Your baby’s doctor needs to check your baby’s general health.
At first, you will be limited to ice chips. You will then have liquids and will move to solid food before you go home.
You will usually be able to get out of bed in about 6 hours. You can help with the baby’s care as you progress.
As with vaginal births, you may breastfeed your baby shortly after delivery.
It is best to follow your doctor’s advice about when you may safely resume sexual intercourse. You can become pregnant before you have a period, or while breastfeeding. When you do resume sexual intercourse, you must use birth control if you do not want to become pregnant right away.
In the past, if you had a baby by cesarean birth, any future babies also were delivered by cesarean. Today, this is not always the case. More and more women are able to deliver through the vagina even if their other children were delivered by cesarean birth. Talk to your doctor or midwife. The decision will depend on factors such as your medical history, the reason for your previous cesarean birth, and the type of incision you have.