Cesarean 101: OBGYN-Approved Tips for an Empowering C-Section

Woman having cesarean in hospital with nurse holding newborn
Every birth story is different and every birth story is beautiful. If you’re currently expecting, you probably have a vision of exactly how you want your labour and delivery to go — and it likely doesn’t include a C-section. Sometimes it feels like there is a stigma surrounding cesarean delivery, and certainly a lot of trepidation about an unplanned or emergency C-section.

This article will help you have a more informed conversation with your partner and healthcare professionals surrounding the possibility of cesarean delivery. We’ll cover the basics of the surgical process, how to plan for the unexpected, and essential tips for post-Cesarean incision care.

If you’re ready for a deep dive into what happens during and after cesarean delivery, make sure to check out Season 2, Episode 8 of our 40 Weeks to Forever podcast, as OBGYN Dr. Kelly Strode answers all our questions on this topic.

Dr. Strode is a specialist currently at Guelph Obstetrics and Gynecology, a clinic in Ontario that offers preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care. Dr. Strode mentions that many parents-to-be focus their research on a vaginal birth, which can lead to confusion and/or fear if an emergency c-section is required. In this article, we’re going to take you through some of Dr. Strode’s most important advice to ensure that you are ready to have an empowering cesarean delivery.

What Actually Happens during a C-Section?

The entire cesarean delivery process takes about 45 minutes to an hour. This will depend on whether the operation is planned or not, as well as any complications that may arise during the procedure.

Preparation includes:

  • Ingesting preoperative antibiotics 
  • Establishing anesthesia placing the catheter
  • Cleaning the belly through antiseptics 

Once you’re comfortable and the incision has been made, you should be able to have your partner or support person with you. The OBGYN will then open your belly up layer by layer to get the baby out. If your baby is well, your doctor will attempt delayed cord clamping, deliver the placenta, and then proceed to close the incision. Your baby may be placed on a warmer for a little while immediately following the birth, but most birthing centres will allow you to have skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible.

Closing things up usually takes a bit longer than the opening part because your doctors will be watching the bleeding and making sure everything gets back in the right place. After this, you’ll be transferred to the recovery room if no complications arise.

Depending on where you’re giving birth, you could have up to two support people present. However, this could change depending on your individual situation (for example, if a general anesthetic is required). If this is the case, the partner or support person should be able to enter the room once the baby has emerged.

Planning for the Unexpected

There are many different reasons why a patient might have a cesarean birth (you can listen to the full episode for a comprehensive list), but the key thing to keep in mind is that labour and delivery can be unpredictable. Even if you have a vaginal birth in mind, you should still consider what to do if a c-section is required.

It is important to discuss the possibility of a C-section with your partner and health care team, just so you know what to expect and don’t forget to add an emergency c-section component in your birthing plan — you may not have time (or presence of mind) to communicate that with your OBGYN in the moment.

If you’re planning your cesarean delivery, it is worth talking about some elements that may make you feel more at ease before, during, and after the procedure. Many birthing centres will accommodate your requests to personalize the space with things like special lights or calming music on a personal speaker. You might also want to request a more in-depth conversation with the anesthesiologist to ensure you’re feeling comfortable and safe during the delivery.

As you make your plan, keep in mind that in an emergency situation:

  • You might not have the time to get comfortable with the anesthetic 
  • Your support person will not be allowed in the operating room 
  • Delayed cord clamping can be challenging in emergency cases 
  • Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and infant during an emergency caesarian is slightly more complicated

Postpartum Care and Healing

Many moms-to-be are worried about scarring and other elements of the postpartum recovery from a C-section. Thanks to medical advancements, cesarean incisions are now only slightly larger than necessary to remove the baby's head, this means scarring is minor and unobtrusive (and it doesn’t make a difference if you receive stitches or staples to close the incision).

Care for the healing incision is relatively simple and straightforward: 

  • Don’t immerse the wound in water — so no swimming or sitting in a tub until the skin heals fully  
  • Keep the incision clean and exposed to air for the first 4–6 weeks. Applying ointments to the incisions is not advised except in the case of an infection that may require topical antibiotics. 
  • Once the incision is healed (edges together, no raw areas), gentle massage can help nerve connections re-establish and minimize the appearance of the scar.    

For more detailed info on postpartum care and the scar healing process check out Season 1, Episode 3 of our podcast: Pushing, Poop and Your Postpartum Body. Cesarean recovery can feel daunting, but you will get through it!

Réflexions finales

Giving birth, whether vaginally or by Cesarean, can be a very empowering process — you are bringing a new life into the world. To make your birthing experience a positive one, it is helpful to work through any fears or disappointment you may have surrounding the process as you prepare for the unexpected. Remember, regardless of how your baby came into the world, the most important thing to focus on is that you and your little one are safe and together.

Be sure to check out Season 2, Episode 8 of our 40 Weeks to Forever podcast for more information on cesarean delivery and recovery.

*This information was taken from our 40 Weeks to Forever - Season 2, Episode 8:
When It Doesn’t Go As Planned
Guest: Dr. Kelly Strode

Contenu connexe

Article précédent
flèche à gauche Nuna MIXX Next vs. UPPAbaby CRUZ V2 Stroller
Next Post
Les meilleures poussettes de jogging de 2023 flèche vers la droite