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What happens during a caesarean section

Whether it's a planned or an emergency caesarean, the procedure and the outcome are the same. You'll have a 15-cm-long scar along your bikini line and your baby in your arms.

A caesarean section is an operation and is therefore carried out in a surgical theatre. This is what happens:

The preparation for a caesarean section
Your stomach needs to be empty, and a catheter/tube will be inserted into your bladder. A drip will be set up, and you may be shaved along your bikini line. You will be given support stockings to wear to prevent blood clots forming in your legs. You’ll keep these stockings on for 24 hours after the operation.

The anaesthetic
You will be anaesthetised by an anaesthesiologist. In most cases, a caesarean – even if it is an emergency caesarean – is performed under local anaesthesia, either in the form of an epidural or a spinal block. This form of anaesthesia is applied to your back and anaesthetises you from your chest to your thighs. This means that you remain completely conscious during the operation.

As soon as the anaesthesia becomes effective, the surgeons will start to operate. From this point your baby will be delivered in a matter of minutes.

The delivery
The baby is lifted out of your womb. At most hospitals a paediatrician will be part of the medical team, just in case your baby requires extra attention. As soon as the paediatrician has examined your baby, they will be brought to you if you are awake, otherwise your partner will welcome your newborn to this world.

Your baby
While you say hi to your baby, the surgeons will stitch you up.

After the caesarean
Your catheter will be taken out during the course of the day, and you must make a point of going to the toilet. The incision area will be sore, so ask for pain relief.

It’s important you get out of bed and move about as soon as possible. Moving around in itself will help ease the pain. But do not move about too vigorously!

You will be discharged from hospital after three to four days, or when you feel you are ready.

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