There are sometimes situations where the safest option is for
baby to be born by Caesarean section. This is major abdominal
surgery, therefore it is only performed when there is a clinical
reason to do so. This can be done as a planned operation (an
elective Caesarean) or as an emergency during labour. A planned
caesarean section is usually performed 1 week before the due date
Because of the risks of surgery to mum and baby, Saint
Mary's Hospital does not offer Caesarean section without medical
If you go into labour before your planned Caesarean
section date, the doctor will talk to you about having a normal
delivery instead. This will depend on the reason for the Caesarean
section but for some women, a vaginal delivery can be a safer
option for you and your baby.
The baby is delivered through a cut across the lower part of the
abdomen, just above the bikini line. In the UK most Caesarean
sections are done using either a spinal or epidural anaesthetic.
These involve an injection into the back so that you are numb. This
is much safer than a general anaesthetic and because you remain
awake, your birth partner can stay with you and you can be awake to
see your baby. It takes around 5-10 minutes to deliver the baby,
and the whole operation takes around 45-60 minutes. The
Caesarean section will be arranged by a doctor in the antenatal
clinic who will explain the possible complications and ask you to
sign a consent form.
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After the Caesarean section, you will feel uncomfortable as the
cut in your tummy will be sore. You should take regular pain relief
to keep on top of the pain. You will have a catheter, which is a
tube into the bladder to drain the urine, for up to 24 hours,
although in most women, we aim to take this out around 6 hours
after the operation. You will also need to take an injection every
day, called Heparin (either Fragmin or Tinzaparin), to thin the
blood and prevent blood clots for at least 7 days. You will need to
learn to give yourself this injection.
You should aim to be mobile as soon as possible after your
Caesarean section as this is important in reducing the risk of
blood clots and improving your recovery. Most women undergoing
Caesarean section will be looked after as part of our enhanced
recovery pathway. Enhanced recovery is a package of care that has
been shown to improve recovery after major surgery, as it reduces
some of the risks of infections and blood clots.