It's a c-section!

A panicked mother's guide to the almighty cesarean

6-minute Miracle
photo of the inside of an operating room

Once the anesthesia has taken affect and the OR staff sets up the sheet, your doctor will come in to begin the procedure. As it was 5 am, I immediately apologized to mine for waking him. The first incision is to the lower abdomen, typically horizontal and approximately 7-9 inches in length. Then the doctor makes a second incision of the same length in the uterus, followed by a third incision in the amniotic sac.

I occasionally refer to my c-section as the “6-minute miracle” because right around the time I started wondering if my doctor had made the second incision yet, he held my wriggling, screaming, bright-purple daughter up above the sheet for my husband and I to meet. It was, as they say, the happiest moment of my life, but after the moment passed, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that after nine (well, almost nine) months of waiting and planning, it took my doctor less time to remove her from my body than it takes me to brew a cup of coffee.

photo of a newborn being examined

My story was not at all surprising to Tiffany Gwartney, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. According to her, the duration of a c-section is dependent upon many factors, including the operating room team, maternal history, and fetal well being, but that “an emergent Cesarean section can be performed from incision of the skin to birth of the infant in literally under 5 minutes.” That is a direct quote from someone who has seen thousands of c-sections. I am in no way advocating c-sections that are not medically necessary, but if there is an advantage that could in any way make up for the anxiety and painful recovery, it is this one.

After you catch a glimpse of your little one for the first time, the umbilical cord is severed. Your partner can even do so if he or she can brave the scene behind the curtain. I made my husband swear to never talk about what he saw lest he forfeit the right to any future children, but I’m quite squeamish. According to Gwartney, once the baby is out, evacuation of the placenta and suturing of the uterus, muscle layers, fascia and skin takes approximately 10-30 minutes.