A caesarean birth is an operation to delivery your baby through a cut in your abdomen (tummy). This operation is performed in our labour ward theatres.

Planned caesarean birth 

A caesarean birth is an operation that helps your baby be born through a cut in your abdomen (tummy). This operation is performed in our labour ward theatres. 

The operation can be:

  • An elective procedure where the operation has been planned in advance. 
  • An emergency procedure when circumstances before or during your labour mean this is the safest way for you to give birth. 

Why might I need a caesarean birth? 

There are many reasons why you may choose a caesarean birth. Your healthcare professional takes into consideration factors around your health, your baby health, as well as your personal preferences and circumstances when discussing your birth options with you. Ultimately, you are the only person who can make a decision about how you want your baby to be born. Your healthcare professional is here to support you with the information you need to make a decision.

Who can attend my caesarean birth? 

Your birth partner will be able to accompany you for your caesarean. and will be encouraged to stay with you throughout the procedure and your time in recovery. 

What pain relief will I have for a caesarean birth? 

Most women will have a regional anaesthetic (a spinal anaesthetic or an epidural, or a combination of the two). This type of anaesthetic involves an injection into your back and will make the lower half of your body numb but will allow you to be awake for your baby's birth. Sometimes this type of anaesthetic is not advised or is not possible and you may be advised to have a general anaesthetic (to go to sleep) for your caesarean. 

What happens during the surgery? 

You will need to have a catheter (a tube to drain the urine) inserted into your bladder before the operation starts. The doctors performing your operation will then clean your abdomen and use drapes (surgical screens) so you and your partner cannot see the operation. The screen can be lowered when your baby is being delivered so that you can meet your baby immediately after he or she is born. If possible, we encourage delayed cord clamping (where the cord is only clamped after about a minute of birth which has benefits for baby) and will support skin to skin contact whilst you are still in the operating room. 

Overall, the operation will take about an hour but may take longer if you have scarring from previous surgery or if there are any complications. 

For access to more videos that can support you through your pregnancy and delivery, register for our virtual antenatal classes

What happens afterwards? 

After your caesarean birth, if everything is straightforward, you will stay on the postnatal ward for one or two nights. You can start to eat and drink as soon as you feel able. You will be encouraged to get out of bed 6-8 hours after your surgery. We will provide regular pain relief to help you recover and move comfortably.  

It usually takes longer to recover from a caesarean birth compared to a vaginal birth. You can expect to need support for at least 2 weeks after your caesarean birth and it will be up to 6 weeks until you feel back to normal. You are advised not to drive or lift anything heavier than your baby for 6 weeks after your caesarean birth. 

What if I go into labour before my planned caesarean birth? 

There is a chance that you may go into labour before the date of your planned caesarean (1-2 in 100 women).  If this happens, please attend the hospital as soon as possible. You will be assessed by a midwife and an obstetrician and if required the caesarean section will be performed as soon as possible.   

How can I prepare for my caesarean? 

Whether a caesarean is planned or unplanned, there are always elements of your birth plan that can be initiated by your healthcare team.

Hypnobirthing: You are welcome to bring a portable bluetooth speaker to play a hypnobirthing script of your choice while in the theatre.

Lighting: A sleep eye mask can encourage oxytocin production in the body whilst keeping the lights bright for the obstetricians to see what they're doing.

Skin to skin: This can often be initiated the operating room along with delayed cord clamping if these are things you want to happen. Remember to bring a hat into theatre as it tends to be cold, and baby can lose heat quickly after birth.

If you want to see baby being born, the doctors can drop the sterile drapes so you can see the baby's first moments. Equally, if you want baby to be cleaned and wrapped before you see that can also be arranged. Remember, it is your birth and your choice. You are free to change your mind at any time.

What our families say

"A big thank you to Dr William, who carried out my caesarean. Midwife Chloe and anaesthetist Tim were outstanding! Special mention to Dr Jess who was assisting. 

"Baby Diyaan came out listening to Christmas songs playing on the radio in the theatre!"