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9 Must-Know C-Section Facts

Laura Richards
July 31, 2015

Not sure what to expect when you go in for your C-section? These 9 facts will give you the lowdown so you will be fully prepared when you arrive at the hospital on the big day.

You're finally going to meet your baby -- but you have to get through a C-section to do it. Not sure what to expect? From your arrival at the hospital to your entrance into the operating room, here's what will happen.

Before
 

  1. Wait, It's Still Dark Outside!
    For many moms with a scheduled C-section, you will arrive at the hospital very early in the morning, often before the sun is even up. You won't get breakfast, as you need to arrive on an empty stomach. Typically you will check in via registration in the main lobby or on the maternity floor.
     
  2. You Can't See Your Toes, But You Will Be "Bikini Ready"
    Once you've checked in, you will change into a hospital gown and the nurses will shave you "down there." Most C-section incisions are along the bikini line, which is a good thing if you ever don a bikini again.
     
  3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat, Got That?
    You will be asked your name, date of birth and if you have any allergies no less than a thousand times by doctors, nurses and staff. This is very important, but it will become a tad redundant.
     
  4. Your Partner Will Be Masked
    If you are bringing your partner or a support person with you to the operating room, they will be required to wear scrubs, a surgical cap and a mask, so be sure to take a picture for your baby book. Your partner will be asked to stay in a separate room as you are first taken to the OR and will join you when the surgery begins.
     
  5. Hey, It's Cold In Here
    Many women are surprised at how cold the operating room is. Granted you're wearing nothing but a hospital gown and footie socks, but be prepared. The room is also sterile -- so expect it to be cold in temperature and atmosphere, too. There's no soft mood lighting here!


During
 

  1. There Will Be a Flurry of Activity
    Dr. Jason James, the medical director at FemCare Ob-Gyn and the chairman of the department of OB/GYN at Baptist Hospital of Miami has performed over 1,000 C-sections. He says that moms are sometimes unprepared for the sheer number of people in the room.

    He shares, "There are lots of people in the room. One or two anesthesia staff, a surgeon, an assistant, at least two nurses and someone to care for the baby. It can get crowded and overwhelming. But everyone is there for your safety, and everyone has a specific job to perform."
     
  2. You Will Go Numb
    Dr. James says that women are sometimes surprised by this feeling -- or lack thereof. "The anesthetic makes it so that you are not only numb, but also temporarily unable to move the lower half of your body. This can be scary, but it is short-lived and you will regain motion and sensation in a couple of hours." Other side effects you may experience are shaking, itching or even nausea and vomiting.
     
  3. Expect Pulling, Pushing and Gushing
    Those are some of the sounds and sensations you will hear as your baby is being born. tracy hartley, the owner of B*E*S*T Doula Service, has been a doula for more than 18 years and has attended over 560 births.

    She has been in the operating room many times with moms and shares, "It may feel as if the surgeons are trying to pull you off the table when the baby is being born. This tugging and pulling is normal, shouldn't hurt and won't last long. There also will be the smell of burning flesh when they are cauterizing the wound. This is normal. Moms can wear a mask or put an aromatherapy scent on their hand or a washcloth by their face to mask the smell."


After
 

  1. It's Over Really Fast
    Many moms are amazed at how fast the entire procedure is -- all of a sudden, your baby appears! Your partner will likely be holding your baby as you are moved to a recovery room or even to a regular hospital room.


Laura Richards is a Boston-based freelance writer and the mother of four boys including a set of identical twins. She has written for numerous parenting publications and is the president of On Point Communications.

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