Practiced since ancient times, a cesarean section is a surgical operation consisting of an incision in the mother’s abdomen, down to the uterus. The operation usually lasts one hour, but its duration can vary depending on several factors.
What is a cesarean section?
From the Latin Caedere, which means to cut/incise, a cesarean section is an incision made by the surgeon on the lower abdomen of the mother-to-be. This incision allows for quick access to the newborn without endangering her life or that of her mother. Initially performed only in case of emergency concerning the life of the baby, it can nowadays be requested for health reasons or by preference. It is performed under general anesthesia, or spinal anesthesia, which accounts for ninety percent of the duration of the operation. The incision itself is usually done in less than fifteen minutes.
What are the steps of a cesarean section?
Whether it is a scheduled or emergency surgical procedure, a cesarean section is performed in an operating room. The mother-to-be will therefore be taken care of by the medical staff before she enters the operating room. The medical team is composed of a surgeon, a gynecologist, an anesthesiologist, but also some nurses and midwives, assisted by a pediatrician.
As soon as the mother-to-be enters the operating room, the medical staff will check her health data one last time to make sure that nothing will interfere with the smooth running of the operation.
A few minutes will be necessary to install the medical monitoring equipment (scope and blood pressure monitor) that will allow the staff to always keep an eye on the vital parameters of the mother and her baby.
Once the mother is seated, the anesthesiologist will perform the spinal anesthesia before laying her down. A bladder catheter will then be inserted and an initial Doppler examination will be performed to ensure the position and health of the unborn baby.
A nurse will then brush the mother’s belly with a local antiseptic solution before installing the sterile operating field.
All of these preparatory steps for the cesarean section take only a few minutes, and only a few more minutes will be needed for the surgeon to make the incision in the abdominal tissue before the midwife removes the baby and the pediatrician examines it.
Finally, the placenta is removed, and the operation ends with the placement of stitches.
If the health condition of the mother and the newborn allows it, the nursing staff will do their best to allow a quick skin-to-skin contact in the interest of the baby. In the event of complications for the new mother, the baby will be brought to the father who will have the task of performing this skin-to-skin contact during the time necessary for the medical team to safely complete the procedure.
How long does it take to recover from a C-section?
As with any surgical procedure, even if the risks are low, postoperative monitoring is mandatory and its duration depends on the mother’s health. As a general rule, count on 2 hours of monitoring directly after the operation, then four days of rest in the room.
These observation periods, as well as waiting for the end of the spinal anesthesia, artificially lengthen the duration of the cesarean section. They allow us to make sure that both mother and baby are in good shape before returning to their family cocoon.
How long does a cesarean section last?
Considering the intervention itself, only a few minutes are necessary. The C-section therefore lasts between 10 and 15 minutes on average. It is the preparation of the operating room and the surveillance and safety measures that increase the overall duration. Similarly, the use of spinal anesthesia requires additional safety measures and a longer period of postoperative monitoring. The practice of cesarean section is nowadays very well supervised and safe, and numerous medical and technical advances allow a rapid and safe intervention. Advances in sutures allow for discreet and comfortable scars that will fade with time.