Maternity Physio and Pelvic Health

What happens during a C section?

Q: What happens during a C section? (with a lot of help form the NHS website)


  • You lie down on an operating table, which may be slightly tilted to begin with. 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. You will have a thin flexible tube called a catheter inserted into your urethra to help you to pee.
  • a screen is placed across your tummy so you cannot see the operation being done
  • a 10 to 20cm cut is made in your tummy and womb – this will usually be a horizontal cut just below your bikini line.
  • The incision is made into the skin, connective tissue, the abdominal cavity/peritoneum and the uterus. The abdominal muscles are moved back.
  • your baby is delivered through the opening – this usually takes 5 to 10 minutes and you may feel some tugging at this point
  • your baby will be lifted up for you to see as soon as they have been delivered, and they’ll be brought over to you
  • you’re given an injection of the hormone oxytocin once your baby is born to encourage your womb to contract and reduce blood loss
  • your womb is closed with dissolvable stitches, and the cut in your tummy is closed either with dissolvable stitches, or stitches or staples that need to be removed after a few days

The whole procedure usually takes around 40 to 50 minutes.

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:

  • painkillers to relieve any discomfort
  • treatment to reduce the risk of blood clots – this may include compression stockings or injections of blood-thinning medicine, or both
  • food and water as soon as you as you feel hungry or thirsty
  • help with breastfeeding your baby if you want it.