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      Having a caesarean section

      C Section

      Having a caesarean section

      Special Delivery

      What it means for you and your baby


      Some women may know they need a caesarean (C-section) long before they give birth, but for others, the decision might not be made until they go into labour. Although it’s natural to worry, a caesarean is a very straightforward procedure that’s over within an hour.


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      Why you might need a caesarean section

      If your doctor feels that a normal delivery will put you or your baby’s health at risk, they will advise you to have a caesarean. These are some of the reasons why this decision might be made1:

      • Placenta praevia; when the placenta is low in your womb, blocking your baby’s exit2
      • You are carrying three or more babies, or if you are having twins and neither is head-down3
      • Your baby is considered too large to come through the pelvis
      • You have pregnancy related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) or other illnesses 
      • Your baby’s health is threatened and a quick birth is needed
      • Your baby is lying breech, or another way that could prevent a normal birth
      • Cord prolapse; when the umbilical cord falls forwards, reducing your baby’s oxygen supply
      • You have an outbreak of genital herpes, which can be passed to your baby through a vaginal birth

      What happens during a C-section?1,4

      The procedure may vary slightly from hospital to hospital, but here is a general guide as to what will happen.

      • You’ll often be given an antacid to neutralise the acid in your stomach, and antibiotics to prevent infection
      • An intravenous drip will be set up to monitor your fluid levels and give you extra pain relief if you need it
      • You will have a local anaesthetic (an epidural or spinal block), and a catheter to empty your bladder
      • A screen will be set up across your stomach, so you will not be able to see the operation
      • Some of your pubic hair will be shaved to clear the area for the incision
      • Once the anaesthetic takes effect, the doctor will make an incision allowing them to deliver your baby

      The delivery is over very quickly and all you should feel is a little pressure and pulling.

      Unless you need a general anaesthetic or it’s an emergency, your birth partner can usually stay with you from start to finish.

      newborn on mothers chest

      I had a last-minute caesarean, it all happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to worry about it. Before I knew it, I had my little girl in my arms!

      What happens after your baby is born?

      After your baby is born, your placenta is delivered and the surgeon sews up your uterus and your abdomen. The whole procedure takes about 40 to 50 minutes, in total1.

      You’ll then be taken to a recovery room, to allow time for the anaesthetic to wear off. Your heart rate and blood pressure will also be checked. If you are breastfeeding, you may initially need help to position your baby.

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      Recovering from your caesarean section

      In most cases, you’ll be up and about in 24 hours and out of hospital within 3-4 days1, but it takes around 6 weeks to fully recover from a caesarean section, so you’ll need some extra help at home to give you time to rest and concentrate on your baby.

      Birth options for subsequent babies

      Having a caesarean section for your first baby does not necessarily mean that your next childbirth will end the same way. About 75% of women who try for a vaginal delivery after a caesarean section are successful5.


      • Learn more about the process of having a C-section 
      • During your last few appointments, your midwife will check your baby’s position in the womb, so make sure you attend all your scheduled meetings
      • Stock up on paracetamol and ibuprofen
      • Cook and freeze a few days’ worth of nutritious meals
      • Pack loose clothing that will be comfortable around your stomach

      Oriana Hernandez Carrion


      Oriana has a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition and Food Science (1st class) from University Iberoamericana in Mexico, the country where she completed an internship in a Children’s Public Hospital (HIMFG) and later on worked in a private nutrition clinic. 

      Read more

      1. NHS. Caesarean section. [Online]. 2019. Available at [Accessed July 2021]
      2. NHS. What complications can affect the placenta?. [Online]. 2018. Available at [Accessed July 2021]
      3. NHS. Giving birth to twins or more. [Online]. 2019. Available at [Accessed July 2021]
      4. What happens during a c-section?. [Online]. 2021. Available at [Accessed July 2021]
      5. NHS. Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). [Online]. 2021. Available at [Accessed July 2021]

      Last reviewed: 28th July 2021
      Reviewed by Oriana Hernandez Carrion

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      Your baby's future health begins here

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