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Written by Jana Angeles

Before you even were a mother, you probably had set expectations on what it would be like to give birth. You’ve done everything to make your pregnancy journey a smooth process. You’ve eaten right and you’ve followed all the tools that were written in the pregnancy books you were reading but one thing you should always make room is preparing for an emergency c-section. Giving birth is not a simple process and there are things that happen which are beyond our control. Here are some of the things you should know about emergency c-sections:

Why would an emergency c-section be necessary? 

  • If you are giving birth to more than one child: If you are having twins or more, complications could happen during their birth. 
  • Labour progression isn’t normal: Your cervix may not be dilating normally or you have a prolapsed umbilical cord. 
  • The baby is too large: The size of the baby cannot fit through your pelvis, so a C-section is required. 
  • There is a medical emergency: You may be experiencing severe bleeding or severe pre-eclampsia.  
  • The baby’s health is in danger: For example, it’s been identified that the baby’s heartbeat is abnormal, a c-section needs to happen to prevent any further complications.

What happens during an emergency c-section?

  • If there is time, an epidural or spinal anaesthetic may be used, so you will be awake during the procedure. If the birth needs to happen immediately, you may be put under general anaesthetic, which then means you will be asleep when the c-section is happening. 
  • There will be a catheter that will be inserted into your bladder so all fluids will be flushed out. 
  • A screen will be placed around your belly so that it blocks your view from having to see the incision the doctor is making. 
  • You may have a drip in your arm and an oxygen mask placed over your nose and mouth. 
  • Once the anaesthetic comes into effect, the doctor will make two incisions: one through the abdomen and the other one through the uterus. You may feel some tugging once the baby is removed from the uterus. Once the baby is born, their mouth and nose will be suctioned and the umbilical cord will be cut and removed. 
  • Your placenta is then taken out and you will then get stitched up!

What is the difference between a planned and an emergency c-section? 

  • During an emergency c-section, the hospital staff may not be able to give you an epidural or spinal block if there is not enough time. You may need general anaesthetic, however, this is rare. 
  • After the birth of your baby, they may need to spend time in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for close monitoring of their health. 
  • A planned c-section is something you’re mentally prepared for, an emergency one isn’t. You may feel many mixed emotions after the event of an emergency c-section.

Steps to recovery 

  • Expect to stay in hospital for at least 5-6 days. After the procedure, you will feel very tired and sore. You may also suffer from constipation and struggle to move and tend to your baby.  
  • You will have to wait either 6-8 weeks or have your doctor’s approval to be able to lift anything heavy or do any exercise. It’s normal to slowly adjust after a c-section. 
  • Rest up as much as you can! You should try and catch up on sleep as soon as you get home from the hospital and only undertake very light duties around the household. 
  • Go for short walks. It’s important to stay active, even after a c-section. It gives you a good excuse to be outside and take in some fresh air.  
  • Self-care. Take the time to catch up on some much needed ‘me’ time. This could mean reading a book, taking a bath or unwinding to your favourite TV show. If you have any concerns which come up, feel free to get in touch with your doctor to share any thoughts and feelings you may have post-birth. 
  • Eat food that’s good for you! Eating healthy and nourishing food will help you recharge and fuel your body with good nutrition. Eating right will also make you feel good mentally. 
  • Get help from your loved ones. Ideally you shouldn’t be lifting a finger around the household so get your friends and family to help around while you recover.

No mother or soon-to-be mum is ever prepared for an emergency c-section. Just because you undergo one doesn’t mean you have failed as a parent. There are some things where you cannot control and this is just one of them.  


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