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Before a Cesarean Birth

Whether a cesarean is scheduled or not, the preparation is nearly the same. Either way, your healthcare team will get you ready for surgery. If you have a partner, he or she can often stay with you for most of this time.

For all cesareans

All cesarean births, scheduled or not, require certain steps. To prepare for surgery:

  • You’ll need to sign a consent form.

  • Any hair on your stomach may be removed to just below the top of your pubic bone. (Do not do this yourself.)

  • A wash that cleans and disinfects the skin will be applied to your belly.

  • An IV (intravenous) line will be started to supply medicines and fluids.

  • A catheter (small tube) will be placed in your bladder to drain urine.

  • A fetal monitor may be used to check your baby’s heart rate.

  • You will be given a spinal block, epidural block, or general anesthesia.

For a scheduled cesarean

Before scheduling a cesarean, tests may be done to confirm your due date. This helps to make sure that your baby is ready to be born when the cesarean is performed. Cesareans are often scheduled near the 39th week of pregnancy. Do not eat anything for 8 hours prior to surgery. But you may drink clear liquids up to 2 hours before surgery.

Notes for your partner

In most cases, you can stay with the mother while she is being prepared for surgery. She may be feeling tense. Help her relax. Your support can mean a lot. If you’ll be staying with her during the cesarean, you may be asked to wash your hands and put on special clothes.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2018
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