• Overview
  • What happens
  • Recovery
  • Risks

Caesarean section, also called C-section or caesarean delivery is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby via incisions in the abdomen and uterus, especially when vaginal delivery will be risky for the mother or baby.

A caesarean section is associated with risks; it’s performed only when it is the safest delivery option. It can be planned ahead of time in the event of pregnancy complication.

Why are C-sections done?

Caesareans are done in an emergency if vaginal delivery will be too risky. It can be planned too; not before the 39th week of pregnancy. C-section may be recommended when:

  • Your labour isn’t progressing
  • Your baby is in distress
  • You’re carrying multiples
  • You have placenta problem
  • Your baby/babies are positioned abnormally
  • You have a health concern

If your c-section is planned, you’ll have enough time to comprehensively understand and compare it with vaginal delivery.

Requesting a Caesarian

Some women ask for c-sections to avoid delivery anxiety and labour complications of vaginal delivery. Discussing with your doctor can help you take the best decision.

What happens during a caesarean?

C-section is performed under a spinal anaesthetic or general anaesthetic for about 40-50 minutes.

With a screen placed across your body to block your view, a cut about 10-20cm long is made across your lower tummy and womb. You may feel some tugging and pulling after when your baby is delivered.

Recovering from a Caesarean

Recovery takes more time than vaginal delivery. You may stay in the hospital for 3-4 days. Using painkillers, you can soothe the apparent discomfort in your tummy. Try not to overstress yourself when you get home. Avoid driving and sex for six weeks.

Risks of C-section

C-sections are safe but come with risks. Some possible risks are:

  • Womb or womb lining infection
  • Blood clots
  • Ureter or bladder damage
  • Temporary breathing difficulties

Future pregnancies after a Caesarean

You can have another delivery via c-section if it’s safe. Otherwise, you can have a vaginal delivery known as vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).


C-sections are performed in the hospital. You’ll probably have an appointment prior to the operation and stay back a few days after it’s done.

Preoperative Appointment

During the time of your appointment; if there’s time, you will:

  • Ask questions about the procedure
  • Do a blood test to check for anaemia—lack of red blood cells
  • Be given some medications like antibiotics, anti-sickness medication, and medication to lower your stomach acidity
  • Sign a consent form

Your doctor will ask you to stop eating and drinking before the operation.

The Procedure Preparation

On the day of the c-section:

  • You’ll change into a hospital gown
  • You’ll be induced with a spinal or epidural anaesthetic with a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) attached to your bladder to empty it. This anaesthetic numbs your lower body only. You’ll be awake to carry your baby once delivered. Your partner can be present. General anaesthetic puts you asleep throughout the entire operation.

During the procedure:

  • You’ll lie on a slightly tilted operating table with a screen placed across your tummy to block your view
  • A 10-20cm horizontal cut is made in your tummy and womb, just below your bikini line; sometimes it’s a vertical cut below your bellybutton
  • Within 5-10 minutes, you’ll feel some tugging, and your baby is delivered via the open cut and brought over to you
  • You are injected with hormone oxytocin to accelerate womb contraction and lower blood loss
  •  Your womb is closed with dissolvable stitches; your tummy with dissolvable stitches or staples that will be removed after a few days

It takes about 40-50 minutes to perform this procedure.


You’ll be moved to the recovery room right after the operation. When you recover from the anaesthetic, under close observation, you’ll take painkillers to soothe any discomfort.

You’ll be treated for blood clots. Food and water will be provided when you’re hungry or thirsty. Your healthcare provider will help you with breasting your baby if you want.

The catheter will be detached from your bladder 12-18 hours after the operation; once you’re strong enough to move around.


Hospital Recovery

For 3-4 days you’ll stay in the hospital and go home when you and your newborn are well.

Your wound will be covered with a dressing for at least 24 hours. You’ll take painkillers, food, water and will be asked to walk around as soon as possible. Breastfeeding can start. Someone can give you a lift back home since you won’t be able to drive.

Taking care of your wound

Your midwife will advise you to take care of your wound by gently cleaning and drying the wound every day; wearing comfortable clothes and underwear; watching out for signs of infections, and taking painkillers if the wound is sore. After 5-7 days, your midwife will take out any non-dissolvable stitches or staples.

Your wound-induced scar will probably be red but will eventually fade. You can control pain and bleeding by taking painkillers like ibuprofen or paracetamol; stronger ones like co-codamol should not be taken if you’re breastfeeding. Bleeding can be stopped by using sanitary pads.

Return to your normal activities gently to reduce the risk of blood clots. You may not be able to drive, exercise, or do other energy-sapping activities until after 6 weeks or more.


To you:

  • Wound infection like swelling, redness, etc
  • Womb lining infection with signs like fever, vaginal discharge, etc
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Ureter or bladder damage

With antibiotics given to women, the risk of infection is reduced.

To your baby:

  • A cut in the skin
  • Breathing difficulties

To future pregnancies

  • Scar in your womb opening up
  • The abnormal placing of placenta causing difficulties delivering the placenta.
  • Stillbirth