Emergency vs. Planned C-Sections: What You Should Know About Each

I’ve been posting a lot about c-sections lately, and I want to assure all of you a couple of things. First, if you plan your c-section off the bat, I’m in your corner. I completely understand. I scheduled my second c-section because the birth of my eldest was such pure agony (read that story, and you’ll see why). No judgment.

And to those of you that are planning on delivering vaginally, I want to address you too. I hope that you give birth precisely the way you expect. BUT, as you know I’m famous for my ‘buts’ here, you should ALWAYS be prepared just in case something doesn’t go your way.

I was planning on delivering my first daughter the natural way. Until she turned around inside of me during labor and I had no choice. Having an emergency c-section was scary because I didn’t read much on it. I glossed over the major details but didn’t think it would apply to me.

Boy was I wrong!

So, whether you’re planning it out or you want to be fully-prepared just in case you need to have an emergency c-section, I’ve got you covered here, and I’m totally on your side no matter what happens. Your safety and the safety of your baby is what is most important, and no matter how you bring that baby into this world, you are a mom and part of the Mom Tribe!

What’s the Difference Between Emergency and Planned C-Sections?

The obvious bit here is that one of them is an emergency while the other one isn’t. When you plan a c-section either for medical reasons or just because it’s what you’d prefer, you’ll likely be nervous (I was even though I’d been to that rodeo before). But even if it’s your first c-section ever, you’ll be better prepared.

When it’s an emergency, it’s a last-minute decision meant to protect you and/or your baby (or both of you!), so the OR is suddenly prepared for your emergency surgery, and things seem to fly by.

Cesarean birth
Baby born in C-section. P.C.: Flickr

It’s scarier, honestly, when I look back and think about my first c-section. I was so tired too from being in labor for so long. In an emergency c-section, I wasn’t given much of choice about anesthesia.

Obviously, for both types, you will need to be numbed from the waist down, so you don’t feel the surgery. But for a planned c-section, you can elect to be put under or not.

For my first c-section, there was no election of anesthesia. Everyone had to act quickly for my safety and my daughter’s safety too. I was given general anesthesia and went under quite fast after that.

But the thing was,

I knew what was going on but was out of it if it makes sense. I remember hearing my daughter cry for the first time and thinking, “OMG! That’s my baby!” So I knew, but man was I loopy.

It might help to look for the types of anesthesia too to calm you down. Generally, you’ll get spinal anesthesia followed by an epidural. This will numb up everything, yet you’ll be awake. If there’s a big problem, you’ll be given general anesthesia. Know that if you didn’t plan on a c-section and you’ve been in labor for hours and hours, they will likely put you under and believe me, it’s so much better that way.

Is It Safer to Plan Your C-Section?

Technically, yes, it is. Though that doesn’t mean you’re not safe if you have to undergo an emergency c-section. It’s easier on your body when you plan for it, and you’re not in distress.

The best thing you can do is read about the procedure of a c-section even if you’re not planning on one. Read my post about it, and you’ll know what will happen and what to expect. That way, if your baby turns around inside you, the cord gets wrapped around their neck, or any other unforeseen circumstance, you will be less freaked out.

You can also talk to your doctor about it. Maybe I would have thought to ask mine more questions if there wasn’t the language barrier between us. True that her English was pretty good, it was still a struggle.

The Technique is the Same

As far as the surgery itself goes, whether planned or unplanned, that c-section will go through the same steps to help you deliver your baby.

The only difference is that in an emergency, there may be some added steps of general anesthesia and it will be very chaotic as extra staffs are called in to come to assist with your c-section.

When it’s planned, it is very calmed. Rest assured, I was nervous and scared, but it was not the insane scene I remembered from a few years before. Everyone was getting into position instead of running around, shouting in Chinese.

What About the Recovery?

Any way you slice it, pardon the pun, a c-section is still major abdominal surgery whether it’s an emergency or not. That being said, you’ll have the same recovery time from a c-section that is planned as you would if were an emergency. There’s no way around that!

My best advice to you is to just be prepared. No matter how you give birth, it’s excruciating and takes time for your body to adjust and recover. Plan on being reasonably uncomfortable for a while.

If you’re planning on natural birth, take steps to understand what an emergency c-section would mean for you and prepare for it just in case. And if you’re planning a c-section from the get-go, there’s no shame in that. Knowing about the procedure and having everything in place for when you do get out of the hospital will make life a lot easier.

In the end, it’s holding that baby that will make all the agony from your pregnancy and your delivery well-worth it.

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