A c-section takes, on average, 45 minutes from start to finish. Surprisingly, your surgeon will use very little of this time getting your baby out, which they can do in between 2 and 15 minutes. They’ll spend the rest of the procedure repairing your incision.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to your cesarean section and how long each stage may take:
Preparation – 15 minutes
Before your c-section, you’ll have an IV and catheter placed. These will allow you to receive medication and fluids and keep your bladder empty during surgery. Each procedure only takes a couple of minutes.
You will also need anesthesia to numb your body. If your cesarean is planned, you’ll most likely receive an epidural or spinal block, which usually takes 10 minutes. This numbs you from the waist down, but allows you to stay awake and hear your baby being born.
In some cases and during emergency c-sections, your doctor may use general anesthesia. This will put you to sleep in about 60 seconds.
Delivery – 5 to 15 minutes
Once you’ve been anesthetized, your surgical team will place a screen between you and your belly, so you won’t be able to see what’s happening.
Then, your surgeon will make two incisions; one in your abdomen and one in your uterus. This is very quick; your baby could be out in between 5 and 15 minutes. If you have an emergency c-section, it could take your doctor as little as 2 minutes.
Repair – 30 minutes
After your baby and placenta have been delivered, your surgeon will stitch your abdomen and close your incision. This is the longest part of the procedure, as they will take their time to ensure your wound is comfortable and secure.
If you’ve had an epidural or spinal block, you may be able to hold your baby during this time.