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C-Section: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

A C-section, also called cesarean section, is the surgical delivery of a baby through an incision in the uterus and abdomen. A C-section is only recommended in necessary cases like in some high-risk pregnancies and when the baby is in a critical position and cannot be flipped before labor starts.

An emergency C-section is a cesarean that happens right away as there is an immediate risk to the health or of your baby. Most C-sections are done with general anesthesia, which numbs only the lower part of the body, an emergency section would require general anesthesia that means you will be fully unconscious.

During labor or delivery, the doctor may decide that you need to have a C-section. This could be a sudden change if the health or your baby’s health is affected and it’s very risky for you to go for a vaginal birth. Even if you do not think you will have a C-section, it is smart to learn what it involves. Around 30 percent of all babies in the United States are born through C-sections, so it is fairly common. C-sections are quite safe for mothers as well as babies. But it is major surgery, so one should not take it lightly.

If you know before that the baby will be born via C-section, you will know the date and likely will not even go into labor. Before the procedure, you will get an IV so that you receive medicines and fluids. You will also have a catheter put into the place to keep the bladder empty during the surgery.

Most of the women who have C-sections get local anesthesia, either epidural or spinal block. This would numb you from the waist, so you will not feel pain. This type of anesthesia will let you be awake and aware of what is going on. The doctor might also offer you general anesthesia, which would put you to sleep, but it is unlikely for most of the planned C-sections.

The obstetrician uses a knife to make a small horizontal incision in the abdominal wall, especially along the bikini line so that it is low enough on the pelvis that it can be covered by underwear or bikini bottom. Some women might get a vertical cut. 

After the abdomen is slightly opened, a small incision is made in the uterus. Generally, a side-to-side cut is made that bursts the amniotic sac around the baby. When this protective membrane is slightly ruptured, the baby is then removed from your uterus and the umbilical cord is cut to remove the placenta. The baby is then examined and given to the mother.

Postoperative Complications and Risks-

  • Infection 
  • Inflammation of the uterus
  • Bleeding
  • Surgical injury to the bladder and the intestines
  • Amniotic fluid embolism (in which amniotic fluid/fetal material enters into the maternal bloodstream)
  • Risk to future pregnancies


For women who haven’t had a c-section earlier, a planned c-section may reduce the risk of:

  • pain during and after birth
  • injury to the vagina
  • the womb, bowel, vagina, or bladder pushing against the vaginal wall (pelvic organ prolapse)
  • severe bleeding after the birth
  • partial loss of bladder control

After a C-section, women might spend between 2-4 days in the hospital, however, it might take her up to six weeks to feel like herself again. Her abdomen would feel slightly sore after the surgery and the skin, as well as nerves in the area, would need more time to heal. Women would be given pain medications to take the overall edge off post-surgical pain. Most women generally use these medications for around two weeks afterward.

A woman might also experience bleeding for around 4-6 weeks after a surgical birth. She is also advised to avoid sex for some weeks after the C-section and refrain from strenuous activities like lifting heavy objects.

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