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Expert C-Section (Cesarean Section)


A C-section, or Cesarean birth, is surgery to deliver a baby through incisions in the mother’s abdomen and womb.

At Dignity Health, our medical professionals are dedicated to providing the highest quality care from pregnancy to birth, including C-section, in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor at one of our birth centers to learn more about the possibility of needing a C-section during your delivery.

You can also take a free tour of our birth center at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz and our birth center orientation class at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City.

Why You May Need a C-section

In some cases, your doctor may consider a C-section a safer alternative to vaginal birth. They may recommend a C-section for any of the following reasons: 

  • Health problems in the mother, such as eclampsia
  • Health problems in the baby, including certain birth defects
  • Problem with the placenta, such as placenta previa
  • Fetal distress
  • Multiple babies
  • A very large baby
  • Unusual positioning of the baby
  • Previous C-section
  • Failure of labor to progress

What to Expect During a C-Section

During a C-section, a surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen and into your womb. The baby is delivered through the incisions, and the doctor closes both incisions.

Whenever possible, doctors use an epidural to numb a woman from the waist down, so she can be awake and alert during the procedure. However, in some cases, general anesthesia is needed.

Whether or not your partner will be with you or you will be able to hold and feed your baby immediately following birth depends on the circumstances surrounding your C-section.

A C-section typically takes about an hour. Most of that time is used to repair the incisions, as the baby is born in the first few minutes of surgery.

Risks of a C-section include:

  • Blood loss
  • Infection
  • Difficulty breathing for the baby
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Surgical injury to you or your baby
  • Blood clots

Talk with your doctor about how to minimize your risk of needing a C-section and having your healthiest possible pregnancy.

Recovery After C-section

After a C-section, you will likely stay in the hospital for two or three days. You will receive pain medication as needed. Our caring nurses will make sure your incision is healing well and make sure you are ready to leave the hospital.

Recovery after a C-section takes longer than recovery after a vaginal birth. Your doctor will give you detailed take-home care instructions. Call your doctor if you develop any complications. 

You will see your doctor for a postpartum checkup about six weeks after birth to make sure you and your newborn are happy and healthy.

Dignity Health offers expert labor and delivery care, including C-sections, in Santa Cruz and Redwood City.