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Preparing for a caesarean birth

Before a caesarean birth you will need to have a few things done to prepare you for the procedure.

A planned caesarean birth

You will have the chance to ask your obstetrician (a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and childbirth) questions before an elective (planned) caesarean birth.

In some maternity hospitals and units, you will have an appointment a few days or weeks before the procedure. During this appointment you will have blood tests done. You will also be asked to sign a consent form for the operation. In other hospitals this is done on the day of the operation.

Do not wear nail varnish or gel nails. Your healthcare team will monitor your fingernails during the caesarean birth to help check your oxygen levels and your circulation.

Getting ready in hospital

A small area of pubic hair is usually shaven or trimmed from your bikini line area. This will be done by hospital staff if needed.

You'll need to wear a hospital gown for the birth.

Practice deep breathing to help stay relaxed before and during the procedure.

Fasting

You'll told to not eat and drink (fasting) for several hours before the procedure, unless it is an emergency caesarean. Your obstetrician or midwife will tell you when to stop eating.

Blood tests

Some blood will be taken from you to check for your blood group and to check for anaemia. This is in case you need to receive a blood transfusion during or after the operation. Blood transfusions are uncommon.

Consent

You'll be asked to sign a consent form for the procedure. You should make sure you understand as much as you want to about the procedure. This includes the reasons it is being done, what could happen if you do not have this done, and any risks that there may be.

Never be afraid to ask questions. Your healthcare team is there to help you throughout your pregnancy and the birth of your baby.

If you're under the age of 16, your parent or guardian will be asked to sign the consent form on your behalf.

If you are unable to sign the consent form, for example if you're very weak or have fainted, your next of kin may be asked to sign. This person is usually your birth partner.

In cases of extreme emergency, there may not be time for you to sign a consent form. Your obstetrician may need to act quickly in the best interests of you and your baby.

It's a good idea to tell your birth partner your birth preferences, so that they're able to give consent on your behalf.

Medication

You may get some medication to take before the procedure. This medication is most often ranitidine. It reduces the acid in your stomach

Page last reviewed: 17/09/2018
Next review due: 17/09/2021