If a woman opts to stay awake during the operation, what should she expect in terms of the experience of the operation?
The squeamish should not worry! The area of the operation is always screened off and it is only when the baby is delivered out of the abdomen that she may see a hint of blood as the baby is held up for her to see. Some women only want to see the baby after he or she has been cleaned and put in clothing. Staff will never object to such a request.
During the delivery of the baby, most times, pressure is applied on the upper part of her abdomen to ease delivery. This is only felt as pressure and not pain. It lasts about fifteen to thirty seconds. Remember, the baby is delivered within five minutes of starting the operation and the rest of the time (twenty to thirty minutes) is spent putting everything back together again.
After a caesarean section
Barring complications, what is the post-operation period like?
The vast majority of women having a caesarean section will have no complications of any kind. They can expect to be sitting up within hours, they will be on their feet within 24 hours and will be up and about by three days.
What is the length of stay in hospital, following a caesarean section?
This may range anything between three and seven days. The average is five.
If the skin has been repaired using stitches or staples which need removing, this is usually done between days five and seven, depending on the type of incision that was made. It is not unusual to allow the mother home before the stitches are removed and to have the midwife visit her at home to take them out on the scheduled day. This is, if there are no problems, the mother has adequate help at home and that is her wish.
What about going back to work after a caesarean section?
This depends on the type of work that the woman does. If it is a desk-bound job which is not physically demanding, she may be able to go back to full-time work within six weeks of delivery. If the job involves physical exertion, then twelve weeks is probably the minimum interval she requires. Every woman should pace herself and listen to her own body in whatever activities she wants to try.
Future delivery after a caesarean section
How does caesarean section influence the method of delivery in a subsequent pregnancy?
If the indication for a caesarean section was for a one-off reason, such as fetal distress, abnormal fetal lie or presentation, or maternal distress, then the standard advice is to try for a vaginal delivery, next time around. This is on the proviso that there is no new complicating factor.
Most women succeed in having a successful vaginal delivery, second time round. For a significant minority, however, the attempt is unsuccessful and they end up having a repeat caesarean section.
If the indication for caesarean section first time around was an unchanging factor, such as a narrow pelvis, then any future delivery will be by a caesarean section.
How successful is vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC)?
Research has consistently shown that successful vaginal delivery is achievable in 75 – 80% of cases. However, a mixture of lack of information and sometimes lack of opportunity means actual rates in hospitals in the UK are significantly lower than that, probably in the region of 30 -50%. In some parts of the United States, rates are less than 10%.