10 Things to Know About C-Sections

Some women decide well before their delivery that they want to have a cesarean section and others are faced with an unanticipated emergency c-section. If you’ve scheduled for a c-section, your doctor will go over everything you need to do to prepare for your big day but in the case of an emergency, you won’t have time to get all of the facts. Regardless of if you have an elective c-section or you need an emergency c-section, there are a few things that you should know before it happens.

  1. Sometimes C-Sections Are Safer Than Vaginal Delivery

    There are a lot of reasons that a woman gets a c-section—sometimes it’s just safer. If a woman has fetal malpresentation, opting for a cesarean is the safest option to ensure that your baby has a healthy delivery.1 Fetal malpresentation is when your baby is positioned in any direction or orientation other than head down toward the birth canal.1  While you can still proceed with vaginal delivery in fetal malpresentation, it’s risky and may result in an emergency c-section anyways. Because of this, many women choose to get a c-section to bypass risks.

    If you are having twins, triplets, or more a planned cesarean can help eliminate the need for an emergency c-section down the line. Some women have no problem delivering multiples while others succeed with vaginal delivery for one baby, then need to have a c-section for subsequent ones.1 Talk to your doctor about the best birthing plan options for your specific situation and always make sure that you have a back-up in plan.

    Other times c-sections are safer than vaginal delivery is when you’re in a situation called placenta previa or when your baby is expected to be much heavier than normal.1

    While c-sections can be safer than vaginal delivery, there are still risks. Multiple c-sections can lead to placenta accrete, which could lead to extreme blood loss and the requirement of a life-saving hysterectomy during birth.1 As we mentioned, always talk to your doctor to learn about what is going to be best for your specific situation.

  2. It’s Still a Major Surgery

    What you have to remember is that a c-section is considered major surgery and needs to be treated as such. Some women think that c-sections will be easier and less risky, but they come with their own hurdles and risks. C-sections are major abdominal operations that are accompanied by the risk of blood loss, infection, and injury to surrounding organs.1 Women who have c-sections also have a higher risk of developing a pulmonary embolism than those who give birth vaginally, so you need to weigh your risks based on your circumstances.

  3. Recovery Time is Longer

    There are some misconceptions about c-sections. One of which is that after you deliver, the recovery time will be much less than with vaginal delivery. This is not true. The recovery time for c-sections is about three to four days and one to two days for vaginal birth.1 Since our bodies are designed to give birth vaginally, they bounce back much faster. About a week or two after vaginal delivery, many women feel back to their normal selves while it takes about one to two months with a c-section.1

    Soon after your c-section, your doctor will have you get up and walk around to help with the recovery process. This is going to be hard. Every day will get a little better, but there will still be a lot of pain and anything that adds pressure or stress to the sight of the incision is going to hurt.2 Your doctor will likely prescribe pain pills to help and remember to allow your body to recover post-surgery.

  4. Some Hospitals Use Restraints

    This is a little alarming, so it’s important to completely understand what your hospital’s procedures are prior to going in for surgery. Some hospitals use restraints on your hands or arms to make sure that you don’t instinctively try to reach down and touch your baby right after delivery.3 This isn’t meant to be sadistic, it’s merely for your own safety. If you were to reach down and touch anything past the sterile field, you’d contaminate your own surgery and significantly increase your risk for infection.3 Talk to your doctor about whether or not they will use restraints well before the surgery to avoid any scarring surprises.

  5. Be Prepared for OR Talk

    While a c-section is a surgery, you’ll be awake for the entirety of it. Don’t expect the surgical team to be talking to you or discussing anything related to your birth. More often than not, during c-sections and other routine surgeries, the team will carry on with their own conversation.3 During this time, you might hear about their personal lives, the shows they’re watching, or even a new diet they’re trying. Don’t be alarmed—they know what they’re doing and are relaxed enough to be able to do it well while talking about something light

  6. It’s Intense for your Partner

    While you’re hidden behind a curtain, your partner will be able to see everything that’s happening. If they’re not prepared for this, it can be a pretty big shock to see. More often than not, the doctor will bring in your partner after you’ve been opened and while they tell him or her to focus on your face, it can be hard not to sneak a glimpse of the surgical site.3 If they do look, they’ll see your abdomen opened for surgery, which can elicit some lightheadedness or even nausea. If you notice this happening, pull their attention back to your face so that you guys can experience the delivery together and create a memory that you’ll want to relive. To help reduce the initial shock, it’s beneficial to prepare your partner for your c-section.

  7. You’ll Feel Very Numb, But Will Still Feel Something

    While you’ll be awake for the surgery, your doctor will numb you. You’ll notice a numbing feeling starting from your armpits or chest all the way down your body.3 This means you won’t feel any pain when the doctors open you or deliver your baby. Some people don’t like the way that being numbed feels as it gives you a little out-of-body experience, but if you focus on what’s coming after, it’ll be fine.

    One thing to keep in mind though is that while you’ll be numb, you will still feel something. When your doctors deliver your baby, you’ll feel a slight pressure, rocking, or tugging feeling.3 Again, this will not hurt, but it’s worth mentioning so you know what to expect. If you’re interested in watching the delivery, talk to your doctor about the possibility of doing so before going under the knife so that they can set up the delivery room accordingly.

  8. It’s Faster Than You’d Think

    When you think of surgery, it’s not uncommon to picture people waiting around for hours for the procedure to end. However, c-sections take a surprisingly short amount of time. In total, the entire surgery from start to finish takes about 40 minutes and it tends to fly by.3

  9. Your Baby Isn’t Colonized with Your Bacteria

    One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that since your baby is removed from your uterus via your abdominal wall, they won’t get exposed to your bacteria. While this sounds like it would mean a lower risk of infection, it’s actually the opposite. Your intestinal and vaginal flora help to colonize your baby with their first intestinal microbes or gut flora.1 If you have a c-section, your baby will miss out on this and a few studies say that this could throw off their gut microbiome for years to come, maybe even their entire lives.1 More information is needed on this to determine definitive answers, but it’s worth taking into consideration if you’re thinking of an elective c-section to avoid labor.

  10. Breastfeeding Starts Off Differently

Since you’ll probably still going to be numb from the c-section, the first time you breastfeed might be a little odd. You likely won’t feel anything and this is a big concern for some mothers to be. You’ll have a lactation consultant or trained nurse to help you and you’ll still get the same bonding effects, but some mothers want to make sure that they’re full there for all of the firsts, so it’s good to prepare yourself in advance. Talk to your doctor about post c-section breastfeeding to learn more information.


Giving birth is beautiful, regardless of whether you deliver vaginally or through a c-section. If you have any risk factors, talk to your doctor about opting for a scheduled c-section to help reduce the chances of something going wrong. In the meantime, don’t forget that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, new and expecting mothers are eligible to receive an electric breast pump covered by their insurance provider.

If you have any tips or advice cesarean sections and the recovery process, head over to our Facebook page today and leave a comment!


1 https://www.self.com/story/11-important-things-you-need-to-know-about-getting-a-c-section

2 https://www.mother.ly/life/27-things-i-wish-id-known-before-my-c-section

3 https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/c-section-what-you-have-not-heard