This week on The Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast I did a solo episode all about scheduled C-sections vs. emergency C-sections. I get asked about this a lot during Sunday story questions, but it’s one of those topics that definitely needs (and deserves) more of an in depth discussion! So, in honor of the Birth It […]

This week on The Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast I did a solo episode all about scheduled C-sections vs. emergency C-sections. I get asked about this a lot during Sunday story questions, but it’s one of those topics that definitely needs (and deserves) more of an in depth discussion!

So, in honor of the Birth It Up: The C-Section Series launch, it was the perfect time to dedicate an entire episode to this!

When you tune in, you’ll hear me discuss what classifies an unscheduled (aka emergent or emergency) C-section vs. when and why you’d have a scheduled C-section. Then I unpack unscheduled C-sections a bit more, to help you understand why one happened to you, or why one MIGHT happen to you.

Towards the end, you’ll hear me discuss more about the differences between the two – with control being the main one, but time, length, and recovery can all vary, too!

What’s inside this week’s episode? Here’s a peek at where you can find the answers to your most pressing questions re: C-sections!

What is a scheduled C-section and a bit about why they happen (4:25)

To set the stage for the episode, I explain exactly what a scheduled C-section is. In short, it’s when you have a certain reason why you need a C-section and you have a scheduled date and time to come in.

In this case, there is no emergency! We already know this is the safest birth for you, and by scheduling your C-section things will feel calm and under control. When you tune in, you’ll hear me explain a number of reasons why you might need a scheduled C-section, too!

Related: C-Section vs. Vaginal Birth: Pros and Cons

What are the different reasons for an unscheduled C-section and what do they look like (5:40)

In this part of the episode, you’ll hear me talk about ALL the different unscheduled C-section scenarios. And there are a lot that I play through! Everything from having a scheduled C-section on the books, but going into labor or having your water break early, to signs of distress during labor that leads to a C-section.

Here’s some of the things I talk about:

  • Your water breaks before your scheduled C-section
  • Your labor stalls leading to a need for a C-section
  • Baby is showing signs of distress
  • You are bleeding or have other signs that a C-section is needed

If you are interested in learning about what could lead to an unplanned C-section during your birth, definitely listen in!

The differences between stat C-sections, urgent C-sections, and add-on C-sections (13:44)

During this part of the episode, I talk about those true emergencies where things need to happen quickly. In my hospital, a stat C-section is one that needs to happen ASAP whereas an urgent one should happen within 30 minutes.

Here’s a little quote from this part of the show to help you understand,

“Okay, so stat C-sections are when it’s an unplanned C-section, but if you are labeled as a stat C-section, there is no time to waste. We are trying to get you back to the OR as quickly as humanly possible.

So, one example of what we would label a stat C-section is a placental abruption. So that is when your placenta rips off of your uterus. Maybe you’re having a lot of pain in your abdomen. Maybe you’re bleeding heavily and we’re seeing heart rate changes on the monitor. There are certain placental abruptions that we can label as urgent versus stat because maybe you come in and baby’s heart rate is still okay and you’re not, you know, writhing in pain or you’re not, you know, bleeding excessively, but typical placental abruptions are typically labeled as stat.

Another one is fetal distress, okay, so if you come in, and baby’s heart rate is not looking so good at all, maybe baby’s heart rate is very, very low, you are immediately labeled as a stat and we are trying to get you back to the OR as quickly as possible.

Another example of a stat C-section is something called a prolapsed cord, okay, and this is always an emergency. So a prolapsed cord is if you come in, and we see an umbilical cord coming out of you, or let’s say your provider checks your cervix, and he or she feels an umbilical cord in front of baby’s head. This is a true emergency. And this would be labeled a stat C-section because as you remember, the umbilical cord is baby’s lifeline.”

The different feeling of control (and lack of control) in a scheduled vs. emergency C-section (16:00)

One big takeaway that I want you to get from this episode is the starkly different experience of a planned C-section vs. an emergency one. During a planned C-section, you actually do have some sense of control. You can mentally prepare for this birth, you can create a C-section birth plan, and even take steps towards what’s known as a gentle Cesarean.

On the flipside, urgent and stat C-sections can really have a very different feel. Everything might feel out of control, you’re getting whisked around, you’re getting IVs placed, and you’re being talked to very quickly so that we can get you onto that OR table quickly to keep you and baby safe.

I wanted to include this in this week’s show because it is the reality of the two experiences, and I want you to know what to potentially expect. What’s more, if you’ve had the latter experience, I want you to know that your feelings are valid if you’re feeling some birth trauma – it can seriously be A LOT!

Timeline of an urgent vs. scheduled C-section (19:00)

A question we get a lot around here is related to the timeline of your C-section. I truly think that knowing the timeline will help erase so much of the unknown here! And once again, that timeline is going to be starkly different depending on if your C-section is planned or not.

For unplanned C-sections,

So if you have an unscheduled emergency, especially if it’s a stat C-section, it’s gonna happen very quickly. And especially if that is your first C-section, it’s going to happen quicker than a repeat C-section.

And you’ll have to listen in to hear about scheduled C-sections! And check out this article, Scheduled C-Section? What to Expect

Wrapping up the episode

At the end of the episode, we talk about recovery from a scheduled C-section vs. unplanned (25:00) and some of the differences there. But overall, the whole theme of this episode was to help you gain a ton of great info about the differences between these two different C-section experiences to help ease any anxiety or worry you have.

At the very end of the episode, I talk more about our brand new, one-of-a-kind online birth class, Birth It Up: The C-Section Series!

Mama, if you have a scheduled C-section on the horizon – I know you can get better prepared and give yourself the gift of a better experience by taking this class! You deserve it.

Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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