Elective vs Emergency C-section

Updated on July 12, 2010
C.C. asks from San Leandro, CA
21 answers

Why is the recovery better for an elective c-section as opposed to an emergency? What is done differently?

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answers from Raleigh on

It took me almost 2 weeks to recover from my emergency section, from my elective one I was on my feet taking care of my kids 3 days later. You still have to take it easy, but it was 100% better.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I had one of each and did not think that the overall recovery of one was harder than the other. I will say with the emergency one I think the first 2 days of recovery were harder than with the planned one, but I didn't notice an overall difference.

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answers from Pocatello on

the emergency C-sections are so much harder because you have been in labor for so long before hand. Your body has worked so hard for hours and hours only to then have major surgery. But when you have an elective one you go in and just have the surgery. It's a lot less stress on the body. And I feel that with my second c-section (which was scheduled) my recovery was much faster.

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answers from Gainesville on

The recovery isn't necessarily better for elective. The recovery is dependent on the person. I have had both.

What you may be seeing is a second c-section is a much, much easier recovery. One might need an emergency c-section the first time around and the recovery is rough because it's the first time you've had that kind of surgery and then with the next delivery they might recommend another c-section and the recovery for the second planned section is easier but everyone I have talked to agreed that their second c-section was easier.

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answers from Saginaw on

I had 3 c sections, my oldest daughter flipped and ended up breeched when I went into labor so I only knew about my c section for a few hrs before I did it. My other 2 were elective. All 3 of my incisions were bikini cut. Some emergency c sections can have the up and down cut, depending on why you need to have it down. My friend had 2 vaginal births and with her 3rd something went wrong during delivery and the baby needed out ASAP so they put her out and gave her an up and down cut because it is the fastest way to get to the baby. I know that an up and down incision is harder to heal from than a bikini. Also some of it may be a mental thing. I know with my first recovery time was alot longer and harder and I think alot of that may had to do with how long mentally I had to process what was happening, plus I didnt know what to expect for anything that was happening. With my 2nd and 3rd I knew what to expect all the way around, from pre-op to post-op, I knew what to expect in the OR and I wasnt nervous about caring for a newborn like I was with my oldest daughter. I hope I could help a little! Good luck!



answers from Augusta on

My C-section was emergency. Boy got stuck and would NOT fit to come out the right way.
Saying that my recovery was fairly quick. I was up walking to the NICU that night to nurse every 2 hrs.
I dunno about elective. My first was a vaginal delivery. Recovery took months.



answers from Atlanta on

The surgery is the same. This situation is different.

When there is an emergency c-section, the operating room and attendants are not always ready for you. This happened to me. I was put completely under because I didn't have an epidural and I woke up blind. I didn't know that when you go to sleep, they actually close your eyes and tape them shut to keep them from drying out. They taped my eyes but didn't close them....I fortunately only had surface injuries and regained my sight within a week or so. I also had pushed for so long that I was exhausted and had no energy to put forth toward surgical recovery. Plus, a nursing child. OK, this doesn't always happen but I am not into statistics. I was told I would have difficulty again so I opted for the planned C-section and everything went smoothly. I DO NOT like surgery, for almost any reason. But in this case, without C-sections many of us ladies would be in trouble. I think we may plan a few too many but like I said, I don't really consider statistics. It worked for us!

God bless,



answers from San Francisco on

I had an emergency c-section because I became pre-eclamptic and my recovery took about two weeks. My body was pretty messed up going into surgery, high blood pressure, kidneys were failing etc. When you plan a c-section, you're usually healthy and everyone is ready and waiting for you. In an emergency they grab whoever is on hand and your body is usually in distress so the outcome is usually a different experience than it would otherwise be.

Planned c-sections also don't usually happen at 4am so there's that to consider as well. When you plan a c-section I can almost guarantee it's during normal business hours. I don't know about the doctors but I'm not usually my best at 4 am.



answers from Toledo on

My first delivery was an emergency section after I labored for 27 hours. I only dilated to 8, and then started to regress. I then had 3 subsequent scheduled sections. I didn't really see any difference in my recovery. I had the same medications each time. The only difference was epidural vs spinal. I had the epidural in place with my first one, and was given the spinal with the other 3. Maybe the difference comes into play when someone has already been pushing?


answers from Los Angeles on

The actual procedure is the same, unless there is a complication (an example would be scar tissue from a previous c-section, uterine hemmorrhage). Elective can also mean your first child with no prior c-sections. Some dr's will not allow their patients to elect to have a c-section for their first because healing time is longer (due to the incision through your tissues). Good Luck!


answers from Albuquerque on

Like S. H. (below), I also had both.

Not really a difference, physically. Mentally, the emergency C-section had a bigger effect on me.



answers from Milwaukee on

I had an emergency c-section because the vaginal delivery was putting too much stress on my body and my heart started to slow down too much. An emergency c-section is done when it has to be done if something during the delivery is not going correctly and delivering your first chosen way is not working... an elective c-section means instead of saying you want to do a vaginal delivery first you are chosing to do a c-section instead. In the end it is the same thing except the body may had gone through more before the emergency c-section.



answers from Honolulu on

I have had both.
My 1st child, was an emergency, as a last resort.
My 2nd child, was a planned c-section. My recovery from this one was 20 times easier and quicker.

Nothing is "done" differently. They were both c-sections.

all the best,



answers from Chicago on

I think that sometimes the emergency c-section is harder on a mom because it usually results after already being in labor and trying to deliver vaginally. The mom is already worn out from that, then has a c-section. It's a lot to recover from! A friend of mine has 3 kids. She delivered vaginally, then pushed and had a c-section, then had a scheduled c-section. She said the scheduled c-section was the best.



answers from Davenport on

I didn't realize that recovery was greater with elective. I would guess because if done as emergency, there is already complications and a lot of stress on your body..making recovery longer.



answers from San Francisco on

Sorry if this answer is repeated but I didn't see it exactly! There are many reasons if May be worse recovery for some people, but in an emergency c-section there are many more things that could go wrong, like having to cut the incision vertical higher than your pants go insted of just a little cut horizontal right on your bikini line (you cannot hide a horizontal line and it won't be pretty even after a few years!
Second - there may not be time to get epidural/spinal working properly (my situation) my emergency c was painful and I had more drugs than normally necessary, meaning my baby got more drugs that made her breathing shallow and put her in NICU for 5 hours after birth in which time I could not see her for 5 hours!!! and when I did see her she was too tired to nurse and lost a tone of weight (I was trying not to do formula)...There are probably more medical reasons but more trauma for baby and myself are good enough for me!



answers from Dallas on

I had an "emergency" c-section after having 2 vaginal births - it was a completely uneventful, easy recovery... so just b/c it is an "emergency" does NOT necessarily make the recovery any harder....



answers from Denver on

It is easier to recover because you never go into labor with elective c-section whereas you do go into labor (sometimes even mostly dialate) with emergency. A lot more body changes and a lot more stress with emergency.


answers from New York on

I apologize, I didn't read well your question and went on in a different subject.
I only have had a C-section and I wasn't too happy but my sec was a VBAC.



answers from San Francisco on

There are actually 3 types of c-section, planned, emergent and emergency. In an emergency time is of the essense. The baby or mother's life is in jeopardy and the baby must come out NOW. These usually involve general anestesthia and a vertical cut because there isn't time to use an epidural and a bikini cut takes longer than a vertical. General anesteshia and a larger cut therefore more trauma and bloodloss would equal a longer or more dificult recover. An emergent c-section is when it becomes necessary to do a c-section but does not need to be completed in the next 10 minutes. The only c-section I had was an emergent one after showing up at the hospital 10 centimeters dilated and realizing the baby was sideways and her cord was below her. I was told that should she compress her cord they were going to put me out and remove her immeadiatley but as long as she was helathy on the monitor we could go through the steps of a "normal" c-section. The only bad parts of my experience were a grouchy anesthesiologist, it was 3 a.m. and that I did not get a pump for pain medicine directly into my insicion which I found out later was routine for that hospital but overlooked at my early morning surgery. The only thing I have to compare it to is 4 vaginal births and the c-section was definatley much harder to recover from than the vaginal births.



answers from San Francisco on

is this for you?

be very careful; c-section is major abdominal surgery and is risky for you and the baby. i'm not sure all doctors are up front about this because it is often in their interest to perform c-section (for several reasons) rather than to be "bothered" with a normal delivery. if this is about your birth, do your own independent research first. one site you can try is: www.mothering.com

good luck!

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