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What to Expect During a C-Section

A cesarean section is major abdominal surgery, but knowing what to expect ahead of time goes a long way toward quelling fears and anxiety. Find a doctor that you trust and ask questions. Take a partner or trusted friend with you to your appointments and be sure to share your concerns. The more you know, the more prepared you'll be for the big day.

The Anesthesia

The doctor will give you anesthesia to block any pain during the surgery. Unless the surgery is an emergency, you'll probably receive a regional anesthesia, which blocks feeling in the lower part of your body, allowing you to be awake when your baby is born, according to the Mayo Clinic. You may receive a spinal block, in which the pain medication is injected into the sac surrounding the spinal cord, or you may get an epidural. During an epidural, the medication is injected into your lower back, outside of the sac. In an emergency, the doctor may administer general anesthesia.

The Incisions

Once your abdomen is numb, the doctor will make an incision through the abdominal wall. Usually, the incisions is a bikini cut, which is made horizontally and low on your belly. In an emergency, though, the doctor may make a larger vertical incision from your naval to just above your pubic bone. Then, the doctor will move aside your intestines and the stomach muscles. He'll make a low transverse incision horizontally on your uterus. Depending on the baby's position and any complications, such as placenta previa, the doctor may use another type of incision, according to the American Pregnancy Association. You may feel some pulling or pressure during this process, but you shouldn't feel pain.

Delivering the Baby

Once the uterus is open, your doctor will suction out the amniotic fluid and deliver the baby, usually headfirst. He'll suction the baby's mouth and nose so she can breathe and will probably hold her up for your first glimpse. Then he'll clamp the umbilical cord and cut it. A nurse will take the baby to be washed and evaluated, after which, she'll bring her to your partner, who can show you your new baby.

RELATED: The Role of Dad During a C-Section Delivery

Closing the Incisions

Delivering the baby typically takes only five to 15 minutes, according to the APA , although the entire surgery takes 45 minutes to an hour. Once the baby is delivered, the doctor will remove the placenta and repair the incisions. At this point, you'll be moved to your room, where you can see and hold your baby.

RELATED: Dos & Don'ts After a C-Section

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