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What you need to know about a C-section:

A C-section, or cesarean section, is abdominal surgery to deliver your baby.

How to prepare for a C-section:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.

What will happen during a C-section:

You will usually be given spinal anesthesia to numb you from the surgery area down. You may still feel pressure or pushing during the C-section, but you should not feel any pain. Your healthcare provider will make an incision across your lower abdomen. He will gently pull your baby out. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples and covered with a bandage.

What will happen after a C-section:

You will be taken to a room to rest for about an hour after you deliver. You will have a Foley catheter to drain your urine and an IV. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay.

What are the risks of a C-section:

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. Your bladder or intestines may be injured during the procedure. You may get a blood clot in your leg. This may become life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
  • You cough up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • Your stitches come apart.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Contact your OB if:

  • You have heavy vaginal bleeding that fills 1 or more sanitary pads in 1 hour.
  • You have a fever.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, or draining pus.
  • You have questions or concerns about yourself or your baby.


You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

Wound care:

Carefully wash your wound with soap and water every day. Keep your wound clean and dry. Wear loose, comfortable clothes that do not rub against your wound. Ask your OB about bathing and showering.

Limit activity as directed:

  • Ask when it is safe for you to drive, walk up stairs, lift heavy objects, and have sex.
  • Ask when it is okay to exercise, and what types of exercise to do. Start slowly and do more as you get stronger.

Drink liquids as directed:

Liquids help keep you hydrated after your procedure and decrease your risk for a blood clot. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.

Follow up with your OB as directed:

You may need to return to have your stitches or staples removed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about C-section (Ambulatory Care)

Micromedex® Care Notes