How To Prepare For A C-Section

C-section is the shorthand form of cesarean section, which is when a baby is delivered surgically through the abdomen rather than through the vagina, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. The procedure involves making cuts through the skin, abdominal wall, and uterus to gain access to the baby (per the Cleveland Clinic). Once the surgeon takes the baby out, cuts the umbilical cord, and removes the placenta, they stitch the incisions and close everything back up. The entire procedure typically takes 45 minutes unless it is an emergency C-section, which must be carried out much faster.

There are many reasons why a birth may take place via a C-section. Some of the main indications that the surgery is a safer way to deliver the baby include stalled labor, fetal distress, multiple babies in utero, placenta previa, a prolapsed umbilical cord, and some sort of blockage in the birth canal (via the Mayo Clinic). Some of these conditions will only become apparent once a woman has gone into labor, making the switch from a planned vaginal birth to an emergency C-section necessary. In other cases, a C-section can be anticipated ahead of time and properly planned for. If you fall into the latter category, here are some ways you can prepare yourself for the surgery.

Take these steps for a smooth C-section

As you'll likely have the C-section scheduled in advance, you'll have time to fill out the necessary paperwork that needs to be submitted to the hospital prior to you being admitted (via Atlantic Health System). This should be done at some point in the weeks leading up to the surgery. Some hospitals also offer short classes on the topic of C-sections to provide additional information. If you're interested, check to see if your hospital has one available.

There are also some important steps to take the night before to ensure there won't be any hiccups with the procedure. One of these is to stop eating no less than eight hours before the surgery, as explained by UT Southwestern Medical Center. This reduces the risk of vomiting during the surgery. Clear liquids are generally accepted up until the time of the procedure. Other night-before preparations include taking a shower and scrubbing your body (especially the abdomen) with a special antibacterial soap. You will also need to avoid shaving any skin around the surgical area.

The final preparation is to ensure you fully understand the steps of the surgery and the recovery process alongside your doctor. Having this knowledge will make the experience less scary and allow you to be aware of any potential complications that could come up.