How to Prepare for a C-Section

From our friends at Adventist Health:

If you are having a baby, there’s a lot to do to get ready: set up the nursery, shop for supplies and install the car seat. And while most parents don’t plan for a C-section, sometimes it is medically necessary: Nearly 3 in 10 babies are born this way.

A cesarean section, or C-section, delivery is a procedure in which a baby is removed from the uterus through an incision in the mother’s abdomen rather than delivered through the vaginal canal.

Whether you have scheduled a C-section or just want to be prepared for any outcome during delivery, here’s what you should know.

When is a C-section necessary?

Most of the time, this delivery method is a choice made between expecting parents and their prenatal provider based on complications that arise during pregnancy, which can include previous C-sections, infections, baby’s size or position, and the placenta blocking the cervix.
In some cases, complications come up when the mother is in labor. Even if parents are planning a vaginal delivery, providers may recommend an unplanned C-section if labor stalls or if there is any risk to baby.

How can I prepare?

In the weeks before the due date, you might want to make a list of your concerns and questions to review with your provider so you know what to expect on the “big day.” This can cover requests for how you will manage pain and whom you want in the room during delivery.
You can include your wishes related to a C-section, too, whether or not it is planned. Ask about options for you to watch the birth, request that your partner be in the operating room with you or ask for skin-to-skin bonding time with your baby immediately after delivery.

Can I eat before a C-section?

If you are having a scheduled C-section, your provider will give you preparation instructions, including when you can eat and what to avoid. As a general rule, it’s best not to eat solid foods for eight hours before the operation, instead having clear liquids such as juice, broth, clear tea and water. Do not eat or drink anything for two hours before your scheduled C-section.

What is recovery like?

After a C-section, you and your baby will stay in the hospital until your provider determines that you are ready to return home, usually two to three days after delivery.

Breastfeeding is just as beneficial to baby and mother following a C-section as a vaginal birth, and medications given to manage a mother’s pain do not interfere with the ability to breastfeed.

  • Rest as much as you can in the first week after a C-section.
  • If you need to cough, sneeze or laugh, hold a pillow over your incision for extra support.
  • Don’t take a bath or go in a pool or hot tub until your provider gives you the go-ahead.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Keep your incision clean and dry.

Learn more about Adventist Health Portland’s Women’s Care.

Scroll to Top