Zoe Ball, Victoria Beckham and Liz Hurley did it. Jordan's done it twice. So if it happens to you, it may help to know lots of other women have trodden the same path. One in five births in Britain are now by Caesarean. There's even a Caesarean light' op under trial. The procedure takes 20 minutes and you're out of bed in eight hours.
But half of all Caesareans are as a result of emergencies, so not everyone has a chance to prepare for what lies ahead. A national midwife shortage and hospitals' fear of being sued mean that some medics prefer to whip a baby out, rather than leave things to chance.
What it involves
An elective' Caesarean is one that is planned beforehand - perhaps because your baby is in the breech position or there are concerns about you going into labour naturally.
You'll be given an epidural, the top of your pubic hair shaved, a drip put into your arm to give you saline fluid and a catheter inserted to empty your bladder. A screen will be placed in front of you so you won't see what's happening but as soon as your baby's born they'll hold him up for you to see. The actual op is quick and painless, and the sensation's been likened to someone doing the washing up in your stomach!
Very rarely, you may be given a general anaesthetic if you're worried about being awake for the op or if you've had back surgery before, so an epidural is inadvisable. Sometimes a general anaesthetic is used in an emergency when there is not enough time to organise an epidural first.
After your baby is born you'll be stitched up, usually with dissolvable stitches, which takes about 30 minutes. It's advised you leave the wound open to fresh air and keep it clean and dry - a dressing isn't always necessary.
You'll be given painkillers while you recover, which don't cause drowsiness or sickness and won't affect your baby if you breastfeed.
Expect to stay in hospital for about four days. You will normally rest for the first 24 hours, then get up on the second day. On your arrival home you'll be advised not to lift anything and rest often. After a couple of months your scar will fade and, after about six months, you'll be left with a silvery scar just below your pubic hairline.
Why you might need one
One of the most common reasons for a Caesarean is when the baby shows signs of distress and needs to be delivered quickly. Other emergencies' include the placenta detaching from the wall of the uterus, or your blood pressure shooting up because of eclampsia. Having an elective Caesarean is major surgery, but if you're really determined you can go privately for around £3000-4000.
Bonding with your baby
When your baby's born you'll get a glimpse of her, then she'll be taken to another part of the theatre to be checked. If all's well, she'll be brought back to you so you can cuddle her while you're being stitched up. You can breastfeed while taking painkillers but if you've had a general anaesthetic you shouldn't feed her for the first eight to ten hours as some of the anaesthetic may pass into your breastmilk. Touch is important in the bonding process and remember you'll have more time to hold her as you recuperate.
New mum recovery plan
Once you get home take it easy and make sure you have plenty of rest. Accept all offers of help - remember you won't be able to lift and carry.
- Avoid driving for six weeks. You'll need to see your doctor, and check your insurance policy to see if you're covered if you want to drive before the advised time.
- When it comes to exercise, remember you have had major surgery. Stick with gentle walking for the first six weeks.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water. This will help you go to the loo after the operation. Pack some peppermint tea, too, as it's common to suffer with wind after surgery.
Call the Caesarean Support Network on 01624 661269 for more information or advice. For more information, visit http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/.