What Happens If You Throw Up During A C-Section?

by Kelly Mullen-McWilliams

Maybe you already know you're having a C-section, or maybe you're wondering if, when your baby's birthday comes around, you'll be one of many women worldwide who give birth via this life-saving surgical procedure. It's normal to fear the unknown, so if you're wondering, "what happens if I throw up during a C-section," here's the deal.

"In almost all cesareans, patients are awake under regional/spinal anesthesia," writes Dr. Amy Peters, OB-GYN at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, Laguna Hills, California, in an email interview with Romper. Yep — you're awake. Only in emergencies, or when the spinal doesn't provide sufficient pain relief, will patients be knocked out. Peters explains, "It can be strange to be awake while surgery is performed on you, but it is safer for the baby and allows you to hear the first cries and see the birth."

If you feel like you might throw up (and it's not uncommon), Peters suggests letting the anesthesiologist know so they can place a basin beside your head. Also, tell your anesthesiologist if you've ever had a bad reaction to anesthesia before, or if you're currently taking any medications. They'll adjust your dose accordingly.

While many women receiving C-sections worry especially about the possibility of throwing up during one of life's most memorable moments, Peters notes that laboring women also experience vomiting. During a vaginal birth, you're most likely to throw up during transition, whether or not you receive epidural medication, and indeed, some women feel nauseated throughout the birth process. Fasting during labor became standard policy after a 1946 study cited pulmonary aspiration as a risk during general anesthesia, according to The American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. These days, "most patients receiving an epidural, spinal, or general anesthesia do not experience vomiting. It is low risk in all instances," writes Peters. Which means that while vomiting during a C-section might be unpleasant, it's unlikely to cause any problems.

Why do women vomit during C-sections? According to Peters, spinal medications can cause a drop in blood pressure, which in turn may lead to nausea. The stress alone may also set your stomach churning. But try not to worry too much. Because it's not uncommon for women to vomit during a C-section, doctors and nurses won't be shocked — just well prepared. And think positive: you might feel just fine. Vomit or not, you'll still meet your baby. When you tell the birth story, you can leave the icky bits out — or wear them like a badge of honor.