What happens

Caesarean sections are carried out in hospital. If there's time to plan your caesarean, you'll be given a date for it to be carried out.

You'll stay in hospital for 4 days on average.

Preoperative appointment

You'll be asked to attend an appointment at the hospital in the week before the caesarean is due to be performed.

During this appointment:

The operation


You'll need to stop eating and drinking a few hours before the operation. Your doctor or midwife will tell you when.

You'll be asked to change into a hospital gown when you arrive at the hospital on the day of the caesarean section.

A thin, flexible tube called a catheter will be inserted into your bladder to empty it while you're under the anaesthetic, and a small area of pubic hair will be trimmed if necessary.

You'll be given the anaesthetic in the operating room. This will usually be a spinal or epidural anaesthetic, which numbs the lower part of your body while you remain awake.

This means you'll be awake during the delivery and can see and hold your baby straight away.

It also means your birth partner can be with you.

General anaesthetic (where you're asleep) is used in some cases if you cannot have a spinal or epidural anaesthetic.

Your birth partner will not normally be present in this case.

What happens

During the procedure:

The whole procedure usually takes around 40 to 50 minutes.

After the operation

You'll usually be moved from the operating room to a recovery room straight after the procedure.

Once you have started to recover from the anaesthetic, the medical staff will make sure you're well and continue to observe you every few hours.

You'll be offered:

The catheter will usually be removed from your bladder around 12 to 18 hours after the operation, once you're able to walk around.

Find out more about recovering from a caesarean

Page last reviewed: 1 August 2019
Next review due: 1 August 2019