Martin Valigursky/Fotolia

How Long Does A C-Section Take? Experts Weigh In

Ad failed to load

Whether you've had this planned since the beginning, or you've been in labor for what feels like forever, considering a C-section is a very personal decision that's different for every mom to be. But unlike labor, it seems to be a little more predictable. So how long does a C-section take? You've seen it on TV and in the movies, but is the process as easy as they make it seem behind that draped sheet? What goes on down there?

How long a C-section takes depends on how many you’ve had before, according to Dr. Yvonne Bohn, OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. And first C-sections are faster, because there is less scar tissue to get through from prior surgeries.

“In general, it will take at least 15 to 20 minutes to give you anesthesia — either via a spinal or an epidural — then about five minutes to clean or 'prep' your abdomen with an antibacterial soap, and drape it with sterile drapes,” Bohn tells Romper in an email interview.

Ad failed to load

All together? It's not even close to taking as long as your Netflix binge. Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, OB-GYN at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper, “From the time the mother enters the operating room to the time she leaves is 45 minutes to an hour. The actual surgery only takes 15 to 25 minutes.”


Pretty quick, right? According to Bohn, if could take longer if “the placement of the spinal or epidural is complicated,” in addition to the prior surgeries. But why does the extra scar tissue from prior C-sections make it harder for the surgeon?

Ad failed to load

"The surgeon has to dissect through each layer of tissue more slowly so as not to injure organs that may be stuck to the uterus from prior surgery. If the patient has labored for a long time, the baby may be wedged into the vaginal canal which can cause extension of the uterine incision which takes extra time to repair,” Bohn says. Additionally, if a woman bleeds more than normal during the procedure, it can take the surgeon time to control the bleeding, which can include applying pressure, stitching, or giving medication that will stop the bleeding, she says.

And it turns out, you're typically awake for the entire surgery. According to Ruiz, “90 to 95 percent of the time, C-sections are done using a regional block, spinal anesthesia, or epidural anesthesia. This makes the mother numb below the breasts, but fully awake.”

Bohn adds that this is because “the blood flow to the baby during a regional anesthetic is better, so the baby gets better oxygen delivery during the surgery than if she is asleep. Women will have general anesthesia only if it is a true emergency and not enough time to give regional anesthesia, or if the patient cannot have a regional block for other reasons.” Plus, Bohn says it’s better so the mom can be awake to meet their baby when they come out.

Ad failed to load

No matter how long your particular C-section procedure goes, Ruiz says it won’t affect the healing time, and that incisions typically take six weeks to heal. Bohn does mention, however, that the longer time you’re under anesthesia, the more likely you will have issues with wound healing and infections.

Even though having a C-section may seem super scary — because it is major abdominal surgery after all — it's only about an hour in the OR, and you'll be alert the whole time, looking at your partner for support, and not feeling a thing. (Except for excitement, of course.)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack