What happens during a cesarean delivery? Will childbirth classes help me get prepared for a surgical birth? - Suzanne in Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The expert answers
Childbirth preparation classes are valuable no matter what the type of delivery. There seems to be a great deal to be gained from just being in the presence of other expectant parents. Many of the exercises learned in the class help before delivery as well as after. Women, whether or not they are having a surgical birth, often experience labor, and so use the breathing as well as the relaxation techniques.
Once in the hospital, as with most births, the temperature, pulse and blood pressure will be monitored. Blood will be drawn and an intravenous feeding will be started. Your abdomen may be scrubbed and shaved right at the top of the pubic hair, where the incision will probably be made.
In some hospitals, the woman's abdomen is wiped with alcohol and a sticky drape is applied directly to the skin. The incision is then made through this clear drape. Sterile drapes will be put in place usually after the medication is administered.
In a non-emergency situation, or when the placenta is in the normal location, a relatively small incision is made just below the pubic hairline. Then, layer by layer, the doctor proceeds to cut down to, and then through, the uterus. The baby is brought out, suctioned, and usually immediately turned over to a pediatrician so that the obstetrician can finish removing the placenta and sewing the layers back together.
The internal stitches will eventually dissolve. The last stitches (or, in some cases, staples!) will be removed later.