How Long Does a C-Section Take? Your Timeline from Start to Finish

How Long Does a C-Section Take? Your Timeline from Start to Finish

If you’re weighing up your birthing options and looking into c-sections, you may well be wondering, “How long does a c-section take?”

The answer?

Probably less time than you think!

We’ll take you through the details.

In this article: 📝

  • What is a c-section?
  • Is c-section a major surgery?
  • How long do c-sections take to prepare?
  • How long do c-sections take from start to finish?
  • Can I hold my baby immediately after c-section?

What is a c-section?

A c-section (the quick way of saying cesarean section) is when your baby is delivered through a cut made in your tummy and womb.

It’s an alternative to having a vaginal birth.

Sometimes, C-sections are planned.

If this is the case, your doctor or midwife will probably chat with you about the benefits and risks you should be aware of. [1]

At other times, cesareans are done because there’s an emergency.

If your baby is in the breech position or in distress, for example, or if you have high blood pressure or an infection like genital herpes or HIV, a c-section will likely be the way to go.

🔎 Read more:What are the 4 Stages of Labor?

Is c-section a major surgery?

Yep. But it’s a common procedure, too.

In 2020, 31.8% of live births in the US were delivered by c-section. [2]

Bringing a baby into the world is a big deal, mama, no matter how you do it.

And the most important thing is keeping you and your baby safe throughout this incredible, life-changing time.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, c-sections (like all major surgeries) can carry some risks. [3]

Complications usually include blood clots, blood loss, infections, and injuries to parts of your abdominal area, such as your bowel or bladder.

Your doctors will usually weigh up what’s best for you before deciding to go with a planned c-section.

👉 Up next: Everything You Need to Know About Your C-Section Scar

How long do c-sections take to prepare?

If you have a c-section, you’ll be numbed with a spinal or epidural anesthetic from the waist down. [4]

This means that you’ll be wide awake for the procedure, but you won’t be able to feel anything when the doctor cuts you or when your baby is delivered.

This preparation period — when the anesthesiologist gives you the anesthetic — takes about fifteen minutes.

After that, your abdomen and legs will be totally numb, and your doctor will start the process of getting your little one out.

How long do c-sections take from start to finish?

The whole procedure takes about 45 minutes, although it can take as long as an hour.

Compared to vaginal births, which usually take between 10 and 20 hours for first-time pregnancies (and sometimes less for later pregnancies), this really isn’t long at all.

Delivering the baby is the quickest part of the whole process.

It only takes about five minutes.

Hello, baby!

If your little one doesn’t need any medical attention, your doctor will likely hand your baby to you while they get you stitched up.

This process takes about 25 minutes.

How long does an emergency c-section take compared to a scheduled c-section?

Emergency C-sections tend to be quicker.

In an emergency, the goal is usually to deliver the baby within 30 minutes of making the decision to operate.

Can I hold my baby immediately after c-section?

Yes, you sure can.

Your doctor will be the one to decide this though, as it will depend on whether your little one needs any urgent medical treatment first.

This might happen if your c-section was an emergency.

But if both you and your baby are doing well, your doctor will likely hand over your newborn to you straight away.

What a moment! 🥰

🤔 What’s next? 11 C-Section Recovery Tips from Real Moms

Deciding how to deliver your baby is a very personal decision, mama, and there’s no right way or wrong way.

Chat with your doctor about your options, do some research to answer your questions (great start with how long is a C-section?) and make the choice that feels best for you and your baby.

If you’re looking for other mamas to chat to, reach out to our Peanut community.

We’re here for you.


Close accordion
Popular on the blog
Trending in our community