When Things Don’t Go As Planned Series – Emergency Cesarean Section

Welcome and thank you for listening!

Our guest today is Elani, who grew up in Jeffreys Bay and lived there for twenty-seven years. In her early twenties she went to the United States as an au pair and what would have been two years turned into seven.

After receiving a degree in nursing, she returned home to South Africa. Upon her return, she started working as a homecare nurse in Jeffreys Bay, where she took care of elderly and sickly people.

Soon after, she met her future husband and—four years later—got married. Two years after, she got pregnant with their first baby girl, Elyssa. Now Elani is at home spending as much time possible raising their beautiful daughter.

In this podcast she shares her birthing story, where everything was going along smoothly during her pregnancy with Elyssa, until 38 weeks, where she was advised that natural birth was no longer an option – have a listen to hear her story…


A C-section generally takes about 30 minutes, although there are only a few minutes between making the first incision and taking Baby out. The longest part of the procedure is generally closing up the wound and the entire procedure might take up an hour with all of the steps in preparation and recovery. Generally, a C-section will involve something like this:


  • You’ll need to sign concession forms when you’re admitted to the hospital or before the C-section is done.
  • You won’t be allowed to eat for 8–12 hours before the procedure is scheduled – unless it’s a emergency and there’s no time for this preparation.
  • An anaesthetist will check your health, allergies, and other related matters in the ward or just before the operation.
  • Pubic hair will be shaved to help prevent infection.
  • A catheter will be inserted into the bladder to keep it drained of urine during the operation and help prevent it getting nicked – the catheter is usually removed the day after birth.
  • An IV will be inserted into your arm before the procedure to give you any fluids or necessary medication

The Procedure

  • You’ll be wheeled into theatre before any general anaesthetic or medication is given.
  • Your abdomen will be swabbed with a disinfectant.
  • If general anaesthetic is used the gynaecologist, another doctor, and some nurses will start the surgery as soon as you’re asleep – don’t worry, they’ll check your consciousness and pain awareness levels before starting.
  • A horizontal cut of about 10cm will be made just above the pubic hair line and all the layers below are cut through too.
  • When the womb is cut open the amniotic fluid and any blood from the incision will be suctioned off.
  • Baby will be lifted out of the womb by hand or using forceps.
  • An injection will be given to make the womb contract so that the placenta is detached and the postpartum bleeding is minimised.
  • The placenta will be removed.
  • The inner lining of the womb will be scraped to ensure that no pieces of the placenta have been left behind.
  • Baby will usually be allowed to cuddle with Mom and Dad and will then be examined by a paediatrician.

The various layers of the wound will be stitched together – the last layer will either have subcutaneous stitches which can’t be seen and don’t need to be removed, or clamps or stitches which will need to be removed about a week.


Although many women recover quite well, a caesarean birth could leave you feeling more sore and tired after birth. These hints should help after the operation…

General Hints

  • You should mostly rest in bed for the first day, but get up for short periods as soon as possible, and do some calf and ankle exercises to prevent blood clots.
  • After birth, you may feel emotional and fatigued. Take a homeopathic anxiety remedy for safe, natural help, and talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
  • Clean your caesarean wound with a gentle disinfectant that contains calendula, rather than with harsh disinfectants that could irritate your skin.
  • Don’t start an exercise programme for a full six weeks after your op to make sure that all the layers of skin, muscle and womb have healed completely. However, after about two weeks, you should go for gentle strolls around the neighbourhood.
  • Ask your doctor when you can bath or shower, but until then, just have a good wash.

Sister Lilian Centre’s Top 5 tips For Caesar Moms

  • If all is well, ask to breastfeed Baby right there on the operating table. This gets the bonding process and nursing off to a good start.
  • If Baby needs observation for a few hours, encourage Dad to go with to the baby unit; Baby will recognise Dad’s voice, and be less anxious.
  • Unless Baby needs emergency care, he should be cared for in your room, so you don’t miss out on early bonding.To help prevent severe pain, interlace your fingers over your wound when coughing, sneezing and laughing. Also, invest in a pair of slippers with a slight heel – they make it far easier to walk upright after a C-section.
  • Breastfeeding may be challenging at first, especially if you had general anaesthetic. With a bit of patience, perseverance and help, you’ll be breastfeeding like a champion in no time!

Two of the easiest breastfeeding positions after a C-section are:

  • Lying down and feeding with Baby at your side
  • Sitting up and holding Baby in the ‘rugby ball’ position

Signs Of Infection

See your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Excessive pain, redness or swelling over your Caesar wound
  • Vaginal discharge with a foul odour
  • Fever