Cesarean Section

What you should know

A cesarean delivery, or c-section, is abdominal surgery to deliver your baby. There are many reasons you may need a c-section.
  • A c-section may be scheduled before labor if you had a c-section with your last baby. It may be scheduled if your baby is not positioned normally, or you are pregnant with more than 1 baby.

  • Your caregiver may perform an emergency c-section during labor to prevent life-threatening complications for you or your baby. A c-section may be done if your cervix does not dilate after several hours of active labor.

  • Other reasons for a c-section include maternal infections and problems with the placenta.

Care Agreement

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.

Risks

  • You could develop an infection in your urinary tract, surgical incision, or uterus. You could have heavy bleeding, or your bladder or bowel could be injured during surgery. You could develop a blood clot. A serious infection or blood clot could be life-threatening.

  • There is a small risk that your baby's skin could be cut during the surgery. A c-section increases the risk that your baby will need to be admitted to the intensive care unit after birth.

Getting Ready

The week before surgery:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • You may need blood or urine tests before your surgery. Talk to your caregiver about these or other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before surgery:

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of surgery:

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.

  • Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.

  • Anesthesia is used to numb you below the waist. Your caregiver puts a shot of medicine in your lower spine. You will remain awake during the surgery. Tell caregivers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.

  • Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring a list of all the medicines you take, or your pill bottles, with you to the hospital. Caregivers will check that your medicines will not interact poorly with the medicine you need for surgery.

Treatment

What will happen:

Caregivers will remove any hair on your abdomen. A drape will be placed over your abdomen to reduce the risk of infection. An incision will be made across your lower abdomen, just above your pubic hairline. Another incision is made in your uterus. Caregivers will remove your baby through these incisions. The incision in your uterus will be closed with stitches. The incision on your abdomen will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be taken to your hospital room.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You have a fever.

  • You cannot make it to your surgery appointment on time.

  • You have questions or concerns about your surgery.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • Blood or fluid is leaking from your vagina.

  • You have severe abdominal cramps.

  • You think you are in labor.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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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