Caesarean Section

There are situations where the safest option for you or your baby is to have a caesarean section.  As a caesarean section involves major surgery, it is only recommended where there is a real clinical need for this type of delivery. 

Your baby is delivered by cutting through your abdomen and then into your uterus.  The cut is made across your abdomen, just below your bikini line. 

If you are expecting twins, triplets or more, it is likely that you will be advised to have a caesarean section, this will depend on how your pregnancy progresses, the position of your babies and whether the babies share a placenta. 

Other situations where you may be offered a caesarean section include for example, an expected breach birth (where you baby is ‘bottom down’), where the placenta has grown across or too near to the cervix (placenta previa) or where you have a disability which effects your ability to give birth normally. 

Whenever a caesarean is suggested, your doctor will explain why it is advised and any possible side effects.  Do not hesitate to ask questions. 

Urgent (Emergency) Caesareans

Urgent (emergency) caesarean sections are necessary when complications develop and delivery needs to be quick.  This may be before or during labour.  If your midwife and doctor are concerned about your baby’s safety, they will suggest that you have a caesarean straight away.  Sometimes your doctor or midwife may suggest an emergency caesarean if your cervix does not dilate fully during labour. 

The  operation

Most caesarean sections are performed under epidural or spinal anaesthesia which minimises risk and means that you are awake for the delivery of your baby.  A general anaesthetic is sometimes used – particularly if the baby needs to be delivered very quickly. 

If you have an epidural or spinal anaesthesia you will not feel pain – just some tugging and pulling as your baby is delivered.  A screen will be put up so that you cannot see what is being done.  The doctors will talk to you and let you know what is happening. 

It takes 5 – 10 minutes to deliver the baby and the whole operation takes about 40 – 50 minutes.  One advantage of an epidural or spinal anaesthetic is that you are awake at the moment of delivery and can see and hold your baby immediately.  Your birth partner can usually be with you. 

After a caesarean section

After a caesarean section you will be uncomfortable and will be offered painkillers.  You will usually be fitted with a catheter (a small tube that fits into your bladder) for up to 24 hours and you may be prescribed daily injections to prevent blood clots. 

Depending on the help you have at home, you should be ready to leave hospital within two to four days.

You'll be encouraged to become mobile as soon as possible, and your midwife or hospital physiotherapist will give you advice about postnatal exercises that will help you in your recovery.  You may not be able to drive for up to 6 weeks – you will need to be able to move without pain first and to be able to perform an emergency stop.

You can contact the Caesarean Support Network for information and support on 01624 661269 (6-9pm daily).

Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC)

If you have a baby by caesarean section, this does not necessarily mean that any baby you have in the future will have to be delivered by caesarean. Most women who have had a caesarean section can have a vaginal delivery for their next baby. It depends on why you had a caesarean section the first time.

Women thought to have a small pelvis, for example, may be advised to have a planned (elective) caesarean section next time. Your GP or midwife will be able to advise you. Most women who are advised to try for a vaginal delivery in subsequent pregnancies do have normal deliveries.  Midwives at Mid Yorkshire hospitals can provide support and advice if you are thinking about having a vaginal delivery next time. 

Breastfeeding after a caesarean

If you are finding it uncomfortable to breast feed after a caesarean because you are finding it difficult to hold your baby near your scar, your midwife or Little Angel peer supporter can help you to find a more comfortable position. 


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