Considering C-Section? From Op to Recovery, Get the full story! 2/2

Welcome back to Part 2 of our C-Section Surgery blog post. To quickly navigate to Part 1, click here.

We will continue our discussion with the preferred type of anesthesia you will likely encounter as well as cover the use of epidurals and spinals; then segue into the c-section procedure and what to expect once the baby is delivered and your recovery.

Pregnancy, C-Section, HealFast

The preferred type of anesthesia for C-Sections is Neuraxial Anesthesia.

After arriving at the hospital and meeting with your anesthesiologist, you are moved to the operating room and hooked up to various monitors as you prepare for surgery.

Depending on how long you have been in the hospital, you may already have a working epidural. Your anesthesiologist will inject a strong medication through the epidural that will essentially make you numb from the middle of your chest to your legs over the course of several minutes.

Please be prepared! This numbing is a highly unusual feeling and many women find themselves quite anxious because they will no longer be able to move their pelvis or feet.

Take a couple of deep breaths and realize this is actually a good sign that the epidural is working well. Your anesthesiologist will be by your side coaching you through this experience.

If you didn’t have an epidural, the staff will have you sit on the side of the bed with your feet hanging over the edge, and then either a spinal or an epidural will be placed by your anesthesiologist.

What's it like having an epidural or a spinal placed?

For you as a patient, there is relatively little difference between a spinal and an epidural.

The spinal goes a little deeper and it is typically a single injection, while the epidural is a couple of millimeters shallower and may include a small flexible plastic catheter through which more medication can be pushed later. However, the effect is the same, you will be numb from the middle of your chest down.

In either procedure, the placement will be done while you are sitting up. Since both the epidural and spinal are done by anatomical landmarks, your Anesthesiologist will feel your back and determine the exact application spot.

Then you will feel a touch of cold from a cleaning solution to steriliz your skin and a plastic drape going over your back.

In general, spinals and epidurals feel the same as an IV placement. There is an initial poke that stings slightly and then you will feel the numbing medication take hold over a few seconds.

This whole process can take 1-20 mins depending on the case as it’s done by “feel” and sometimes there are anatomical variations that make the procedure more complicated.

So remain calm and relax as best as possible (for someone potentially in labor). If you start to get uncomfortable, you can always ask for more numbing medicine.

C-Section procedure after the anesthetic is administered

As you begin to numb, you will be laid down on the bed and still be able to move your hands, shoulders, and head.

Sometimes the numbing sensation may cause shortness of breath. While this is normal, please let your anesthesiologist know; as additional oxygen can be provided for your comfort.

Your anesthesiologist will then test the block using either something cold or sharp to make sure the spinal/epidural is working appropriately, then call in the obstetrician to clean your abdomen and place a sterile drape that will go over the top of your head. You will be able to see side to side and up top, but not where we will be working.

C Section medical drape, HealFast Products

Next, the obstetrician will do a final “test the block”, which essentially means they will poke your belly with a sharp instrument to make sure the epidural/spinal is adequately working before surgery is started.

At that point, once everything is settled, many hospitals will allow your significant other to come in to sit next to you.

What will I feel during my C-section operation?

If you are awake for the C section, a lot will be going through your head. Don’t worry, you will have multiple highly trained specialists making sure that everything goes smoothly.

Once the operation starts, pain is not normal. However, pulling, tugging, and pressure are absolutely normal and expected.

Most of my patients are surprised how much tugging they feel. It is usually only mildly uncomfortable for several minutes, but is usually not painful. Again, if you feel pain, you should speak up.

Once the baby is about to come out, you will feel even more pressure. Essentially the obstetrician has to press on your belly to push the baby out, and it’s typically not a gingerly process. However after this last push, it will all be over!