Taking the Fear out of a C-Section

Scary Surgery?

Fear #2: The surgery will be long and frightening.

It's normal to be apprehensive of the thought of major surgery. But while you may feel pressure during your cesarean and a tugging sensation when the baby is pulled out, the procedure should be painless and take only about 45 minutes. The baby is usually born in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the operation.

The vast majority of c-sections are performed while the mother is awake and, for pain relief, receives either an epidural or a spinal block, which numbs the lower half of the body. (I was actually numb from my chest all the way to my toes.)

Epidurals are often used for unplanned cesarean sections because most women have already received one during labor. The anesthesiologist then tops off the labor epidural to make it effective during the surgery. Spinals are typically given for scheduled cesareans because they are slightly easier to administer and last only as long as they're needed, about an hour or two. General anesthesia is reserved for emergencies or in rare cases when the epidural or spinal is not working.

Once inside the operating room, the doctor makes an incision just above your bikini line and into the wall of the abdomen. Another incision is made in the wall of the uterus through which the baby is delivered. The umbilical cord is cut and the placenta removed before the incisions are closed.

"After surgery, many patients are given a long-lasting pain reliever called Duramorph, which eases the discomfort after the epidural or spinal has worn off," explains Dr. Kent. Tara Perretta of Sparta, New Jersey, says even though all three of her children were delivered by cesarean section, the births were wonderful experiences, nonetheless: "My husband was always there holding my hand, and since we never knew if we were having a boy or a girl, it was still exciting."

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