Planned (elective) caesarean birth

A caesarean birth or C-section is surgery to deliver a baby through a cut made in the lower part of your tummy and womb. Elective means that the procedure is planned in advance and you do not go into labour.

Your doctor talks to you about why an elective caesarean birth may be best for you and your baby. They explain the operation and any risks.

A caesarean is a big operation. It's important to prepare for the surgery and your recovery.

You can find out more about a caesarean section on the NHS website.

Preparing for your caesarean birth

You get a text message to confirm the date and time of your elective caesarean birth.

Our pre-assessment midwife phones you 2 weeks before your caesarean. They confirm:

  • your address
  • the date and time of your caesarean

This guide explains how and when you need to prepare for your caesarean birth. It includes information about:

  • arranging support
  • packing an overnight bag for your hospital stay
  • taking medicine before your caesarean birth
  • taking part in an online (virtual) education session
  • having a blood test
  • preparing your skin
  • eating and drinking

Read more about how to prepare for your caesarean birth.

Having a caesarean birth

You have your caesarean birth with a spinal or epidural anaesthetic. We give you an injection in your back that makes you numb from the waist downwards. This means that you are awake for the birth, but do not feel any pain.

Read more about what to expect when giving birth.

Recovering after your caesarean birth

A caesarean is a big operation and we support you in hospital afterwards.  It's also important that you follow our guidance to help you recover after you leave hospital.

Read more about recovering after your caesarean birth.

Resource number: 3638/VER6
Last reviewed: October 2022 
Next review: October 2025

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact the maternity assessment unit.

Phone: 020 7188 1723

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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