If you’re scheduled to have a c-section and are unsure and nervous about what to expect – you’re not alone.

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve admitted hundreds of mamas and I’m going to walk you through the admission process and what to expect leading up to your c-section.

For starters, you will need to get to the hospital at least 2-3 hours before your scheduled surgery time. Your doctor will tell you not to eat anything for at least 8 hours before your surgery. This is so important, I can’t tell you how many moms have stopped for a bite to eat on the way only to have their surgery get delayed! Once you arrive, I’ll have you undress completely, remove all jewelry, and change into a gown. You’ll also need to leave a urine sample.

I’ll then have you get into bed and put you on the fetal monitor, which allows me to monitor the baby’s heart rate.  Now for the fun stuff – I’ll ask you a lot of questions regarding your health history and get some paperwork done.  Usually at the same time, one of my labor buddies is going to be starting your IV.  IV access is important when you’re having surgery, for fluid and medications.  The IV is usually placed in your forearm or your hand. We try to avoid the bend in your arm because when you bend it, it can stop the flow – and it can also be uncomfortable for you when you’re holding your baby.⁣  We also draw a few tubes of blood at the same time.

At this point your doctor will come in to have you sign consents, giving them permission to perform the surgery.  This is a great time to ask and questions you may have.  If you’re have a c-section because the baby is breech or side lying your doctor also may perform an ultrasound at this time, to assess the baby’s position. Sometimes the baby flips and is head down  – which opens up the possibility of delivering vaginally.

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Someone from the anesthesia team (either an anesthesiologist, or a nurse anesthetist) will stop by to talk to you about your anesthesia⁣. They will ask you questions and answer any you may have about the anesthesia you will receive during surgery. You will also need to sign a consent form.

You will get an antibiotic through your IV.  This helps to reduce the risk of post-op wound and womb infections.  Most facilities will give you a liquid antacid called sodium bicarbonate before going to the OR, which helps to neutralize the acid in your stomach. The reason for antacid is because if you had to go under general anesthesia,  and you vomited – you could aspirate.

Now it’s time to wait patiently ( yeah right!) until it’s time to head back to the OR!
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Tell us in the comments – what you were unprepared for

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