A c-section is actually a pretty quick operation. It takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, but your baby will be born (get ready to hear those amazing first cries!) in the first 10 minutes. Before surgery you'll be given anesthesia. If you haven't already received an epidural, you'll probably get a spinal block, which will numb you from your chest to your toes. Your partner can generally stay by your side during the procedure (unless it's a real emergency and you need general anesthesia). General anesthesia -- where you're completely knocked out and unaware of what's happening -- is not used very often anymore. It's usually reserved for extreme situations because it can be administered very quickly.
You might also be given a catheter to keep your bladder empty during the operation and receive an IV in your arm, through which you will receive fluids and pain medication after surgery. The doctors will put up a screen so you won't see the surgery being performed, but you'll be able to hear your baby as soon as he's born and hold him soon afterward.
Once the anesthesiologist is certain that you're numb, your doctor will make the first incision in your abdomen, which will be about 6 inches long (usually horizontal, toward your pubic bone). A second incision is then made in your uterus, through which your baby is delivered. You may feel a slight tugging sensation as your baby emerges. A pediatrician will immediately check out your baby, and if all is well, he'll be given to either you or your partner to hold. While your new family gets acquainted, your doctor will remove the placenta and begin to close both incisions.—Stacey Stapleton