Women

They Said I Need a Cesarean All about cesarean births (part 2) - Your partner's role How partners can help during a cesarean

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Your partner's role How partners can help during a cesarean

You may think that there is little a partner can do during a cesarean, but this is not the case since your birth partner still has the important job of supporting you during the surgery.

  • If the cesarean is an emergency procedure, partners can make sure that the reasons why this is necessary are clear.

  • If you are awake for the procedure, your partner can remain in the room, sitting by your head and offering you reassurance throughout the surgery.

  • Once your baby is born, you and your partner can welcome her together.

Taking things slowly Getting back on your feet

Moving around in the first couple of days after a cesarean is quite uncomfortable, but the sooner you become mobile, the faster your recovery will be. However, it's important to exercise caution and move with care.

  • When getting out of bed, move on to your side and use your elbow to lever yourself up, then slowly lower your legs onto the floor.

  • When standing, or if you cough or sneeze, place your hands over the site of your wound to avoid discomfort.

  • At first, walk short distances only and avoid steps. If you feel dizzy, sit down and rest, then try to walk again in a little while.

Recovering from a Cesarean

Although you should remain mobile after a cesarean operation, it is also important that you get plenty of rest. A cesarean is major surgery so you will need to avoid lifting and carrying heavy loads for the first few weeks. Since this may be difficult if you have other small children or are at home alone, you should try and recruit as much help as possible after the surgery. You should avoid doing any shopping, which usually involves lifting, or driving for a few weeks. Check with your doctor for when it's okay for you to drive again and make sure that you feel comfortable wearing a seatbelt and doing maneuvers, including emergency stops. It is generally thought to take up to six weeks to fully recover.

Taking it easy:

It's important to accept that you have just undergone major surgery and that you need to allow yourself as much rest as possible to aid your recovery.

NOTE

A cesarean doesn't mean you have failed—you have probably done what is in the best interests of you and your baby

NOTE

Don't worry about your cesarean scar. This will fade with time until it is a barely noticeable thin white line

Cesarean births How the procedure is carried out

A cesarean birth is when your baby is born during an operation in which the surgeon lifts your baby out through a short incision made through your abdomen (generally below the pubic hair line) and through the wall of your uterus. This surgery is performed under anesthetic, which could be spinal anesthesia, epidural, or occasionally by general anesthetic. There are many different reasons why a cesarean birth happens. Sometimes the decision can be made during the pregnancy, which is called an elective cesarean, and sometimes the decision is made during labor, which is known as an emergency cesarean.

Today the cesarean birth rate is 25 percent in the US and rising. Look at the statistics from your doctor and local hospitals to see what their cesarean rates are to help you decide where to have your baby. If you are considering an elective cesarean, bear in mind that this is not without risks to you or your baby, or even to your next pregnancy. The decision to have a cesarean section should be made by weighing all the risks and then making a decision that is right for you.

Q: Can I avoid a cesarean?
A: There are a few things you can do to help prevent a cesarean section, for instance maintaining a healthy lifestyle during your pregnancy, including adequate nutrition, not smoking, and not gaining excessive weight. Other things, such as having someone with you throughout your labor, a doula, a midwife, or a supportive partner; having an external cephalic version (turning your baby while you are about 37 weeks pregnant) if your baby is in a breech position; and also having an experienced obstetrician involved in the decision not to have a cesarean.
Q: What type of anesthesia will I have?
A: There are different types of anesthesia for cesareans, all of which prevent you from feeling the operation. General anesthetics (which make you go to sleep) are only used if your baby needs to be born quickly or you have a rare blood disorder with low levels of platelets (these help your blood to clot). More often, an injection is put into your back, which is either a spinal block, when the drug is injected into the spinal fluid, an epidural, or a combined spinal epidural; you are awake to experience your baby being born and there are fewer complications this way.

You will have an intravenous drip in your arm and a urinary catheter (a tube draining urine from your bladder) put in just before you have your cesarean, and these will stay in place for about 24 hours. If you want to breast-feed, you can do so as soon as the surgery is completed. It is important that you are pain-free after your cesarean, so ask the nurses for more pain relief if you need it, ideally before the pain builds up. To prevent blood clots from forming in your legs, you may be asked to wear compression stockings and after 24 hours, or preferably sooner, you will be encouraged to get up and walk around.

Q: How much can I do after a cesarean?
A: Once you get home, take it easy and let the pain guide you as to how much you do. You can start gently exercising as soon as you want and most hospitals give you information as to which exercises you can do safely. Using your vacuum cleaner, driving, and strenuous exercise are definitely not recommended. You can drive again after six weeks, depending on your doctor's advice.
Q: Will I have to have a cesarean next time?
A: The reason you had a cesarean this time will determine the advice from your doctor as to whether you attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or have further cesareans for subsequent babies. If you feel negative about the birth of your baby, you should try talking to your doctor or hospital and get expert help, since it is common to feel unhappy if you had an emergency cesarean when you were expecting a vaginal birth.
The procedure
  1. Preparation:

    A fine, hollow needle is inserted into your back and you will be given either an epidural or a spinal block. The operation will start once the anesthetic is working, in around 20 minutes.

  2. The birth:

    Once your baby has been lifted out of the uterus, she is likely to give her first cry. The umbilical cord will then be clamped and cut.

  3. Your first hold:

    While the surgeon is completing the operation, delivering the placenta and stitching together the uterus and the various layers of tissue, the baby is handed to the mother or father to enjoy a first hold and cuddle.

Bikini line cut:

A horizontal incision is made just above the top of your pubic area, along your bikini line. Once the wound has healed, the scar is barely visible.

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