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How does a doctor perform a cesarean section?

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A doctor performs a cesarean section with an incision in the abdomen to remove the baby, according to WebMD. Either a spinal anesthesia or epidural usually numbs the patient's abdominal area. Emergencies require the use of general anesthesia instead since it is fast-acting.

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With an epidural or spinal anesthetic, only the abdominal area where the procedure is being performed is numbed, says WebMD. This allows the patient to still be a part of the delivery process and reduces the risks associated with general anesthesia. A curtain hangs across the chest of the patient while her arms are secured to the table. The sedative is given through an IV in the arm. A catheter is inserted for urinating during surgery. After the abdomen has been washed, the area is covered with a plastic sheet prior to making the incision.

The incision goes from the lower abdomen to the uterus, providing enough room to pull the baby safely out, according to WebMD. The placenta is removed, and the uterus and abdomen are sutured.

In most cases, a cesarean section is only done when medically necessary, says Cleveland Clinic. This includes if the mother had a cesarean birth previously, is having more than one baby, has a breech baby or if the baby’s head is too large to pass through the mother’s pelvis. It also is done if there is fetal distress, failure of progression of labor or a prolapsed cord.

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