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Do You Need a C-Section?

Do You Need a C-Section?

What happens during a C-section?


You will get an IV: In fact, most hospital labors require an IV. "It's a great way to keep mom hydrated and we can deliver anti-nausea and pain medication through the IV," says Dr. Mary Marnach, an ob/gyn at the Mayo Clinic.

It won't hurt, but you will feel something: Except for extreme cases of emergency C-sections, you will be awake during the procedure. Typically, a single spinal injection is delivered by the anesthesiologist to numb the area from midchest downward. "It's a nerve block, so very little medication gets into the blood stream," says Dr. Camann. "You won't be sleepy and the baby gets very little effect." It is stronger than an epidural and takes away every sensation, except for some tugging. With an epidural you can still move your legs, but with a spinal you will not be able to move anything.

Assume the position: You will be lying on your back with your arms extended out to the side so your body looks like a cross. Monitors are attached to your wrists and a blue sheet is put up mid-chest level so you can't see what is happening during the surgery.

Uneasy feelings:
You may be hit with a wave of nausea and/or your body may start to shake and become cold. This is a result of low blood pressure–a very common side effect of anesthesia. "A doctor will monitor your blood pressure every minute and, if it drops, will give you medicine to correct the symptoms promptly," says Dr. Camann.

Catheters: After the spinal, the nurse will insert a catheter because you won't be able to walk until the next morning.

Color shock:
C-section babies sometimes need a little help getting the fluid out of their airway and they can appear bluer in color than other newborns. Don't worry, their color will return to normal in a few minutes.

After effects:
You will be sent to a recovery room for about an hour to monitor your progress and possibly have your wound redressed. Your baby will be with you the whole time and skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding are encouraged.

During this time shivering and shaking is very common. The IV fluids are colder than body temperature so they can make you feel cold. Also, small pieces of amniotic fluid can seep into the blood stream during surgery and cause shivering or shaking. "It's harmless and will pass in a few minutes to a few hours," says Dr. Camann.