What you should know
A cesarean section, or C-section, is when your baby is delivered through an incision in your abdomen.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
You could bleed too much, have breathing problems, or develop clots in your blood vessels. You may get an infection. Your intestines may slow down after surgery, causing bloating and discomfort. A weak spot may develop in the uterine wall after the incision in your uterus heals. You may have problems having a vaginal delivery in the future. If you do not have a C-section, you or your baby may have problems and could even die. Pain medicine can cause constipation. You may develop rectal pain and hemorrhoids because of the pressure during labor. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum or anus.
The week before surgery:
- Talk to your caregiver about over-the-counter medicine such as aspirin. You may need to stop taking certain medicines for a time before your C-section. If your caregiver has told you to take aspirin daily, do not stop without asking first.
- Tell your caregiver about any over-the-counter vitamins, herbs, food supplements, or laxatives you are taking. These medicines may not work well with medicines you may need during surgery.
- You may need to have blood drawn for tests. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
- Arrange to have someone drive you and your baby home when you are ready to leave the hospital.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
The night before surgery:
- Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.
The day of surgery:
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of surgery. These medicines include insulin, diabetic pills, high blood pressure pills, and heart pills. Bring a list of your medicines or the pill bottles with you to the hospital.
- An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. Most women are awake for their C-section. If you are awake during your C-section, you may feel very tired. The medicine you receive will cause you to lose feeling in the lower part of your body. After the C-section, the feeling should come back again.
- Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
What will happen:
- You may get medicine called regional anesthesia that will make you numb from the waist down. You may get general anesthesia to keep you completely asleep, but this is not common. You and your caregiver will decide which type is best for you.
- A caregiver will clean your abdomen with soap and water. An incision will be made across or up and down your abdomen. Caregivers will deliver your baby through this incision. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples.
- If everything is okay with your baby, a caregiver will bring the baby to you so that you can look at him or her. Your baby may then go to the nursery or go with you to the recovery room. This will depend on how well you and your baby are doing.
You will be taken to a recovery room. You will be watched closely in this room until caregivers know that you are okay. You will then be taken back to your room. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay.
Contact a caregiver if
- You have questions or concerns about the C-section or your unborn baby.
- You have a fever.
- You begin to bleed and your bleeding is increasing. This may be caused by placenta problems, such as placenta previa. Call if you have stomach pain or other problems that are getting worse.
- You cannot make it to your surgery appointment on time.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Cesarean Section (Precare)
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