More than thirty percent of deliveries result in cesarean sections, a procedure your doctor may recommend when you’re already well into labor to prevent certain risks to you or your baby. Most women don’t expect their delivery to end in a cesarean—typically women imagine the pain of vaginal birth, and how their vagina will never be the same. Having your doctor recommend a cesarean can come as quite a shock. In the urgency of the moment, you likely won’t have the time—let alone the mental energy—to ask questions. Let’s hope your own delivery goes over without a hitch, but it’s better to know about cesareans and not need one than to need one and know nothing about them. Here are things you should know about c-sections.

You can plan yours

Cesareans don’t need to be emergency, last-minute procedures. You and your doctor can actually schedule an elective cesarean if you’d prefer not to go through vaginal delivery—even if it would be perfectly safe.

It may be riskier than vaginal birth

Studies have shown that perfectly healthy women who undergo cesareans are about three times as likely to suffer complications like infections and blood clots as healthy women who have a vaginal birth.

Your weight could increase your chances of a c-section

Women who are overweight are more likely than those of a healthy weight to need a c-section. Obese mothers-to-be can be three times more likely to need the procedure.

You’ll receive anesthesia, but you won’t be under

Your body from your stomach down will be totally numb, but you will not go under for your cesarean (in most cases) so if you’re sensitive to blood, don’t look down!

Your vagina will still be involved

It’s possible for blood to leak through the vagina during a cesarean, so nurses will take precautions to keep you clean down there. Furthermore, you will likely have a catheter during your surgery.

Skin-to-skin bonding may be delayed

While most doctors encourage a new mother to have skin-to-skin contact with her newborn for important bonding, some hospitals discourage this for mothers who undergo cesarean. Some doctors worry about putting a newborn near the anesthesia involved in the procedure.

You should request a blanket

Hospitals aren’t exactly known for their warm and toasty climates. Add to that that you will be nude for at least a half hour for your cesarean, so make sure a nurse or your partner keeps plenty of blankets on hand.

Your stomach will remain numb

The anesthesia may not wear off for several hours after surgery, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t feel your tummy when you touch it.


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