Pre-operative instructions for women having a planned cesarean (C-section)

You will be given a specific arrival date and time before your c-section is scheduled to take place. It will be formatted as follows:

Please come to the Labor and Delivery Unit on *** at *** a.m./p.m.

Your c-section is schedule at *** a.m./p.m.

It is very important to come on time so your c-section can start as scheduled.

  • Labor and Delivery is on the 6th floor at Elevator I.
  • Ramp 4 is the closest parking ramp.

We cannot predict the number of people who will be having babies during your scheduled c-section. This number can change quickly. So, sometimes for the safety of you, other patients, and your baby’s, we may need to delay or reschedule a planned c-section.

Eating and drinking before surgery

Do not eat or drink anything for 2 hours before your cesarean section.

If you have diabetes or gestational diabetes you will be given instructions for how to take your medicines and eat before your procedure. It will be formatted as follows:

  • Do not eat any solid food after *** a.m./p.m.  But, please continue to drink.
  • You should drink clear liquids until *** a.m./p.m.  Do not drink anything after this time.

No food for 8 hours before your scheduled arrival time.

Do not eat any solid food.

Up until 2 hours before your scheduled cesarean, you may have clear fluids.

Clear fluids are:

  • Water
  • Black coffee
  • Clear tea
  • Gatorade™
  • Clear juice
  • Apple juice
  • White grape juice

No milk, creamer or lemon added to any drinks

Do not swallow gum, mints or candy

Your stomach must be empty for surgery. We do not want food from your stomach to get into your lungs during surgery. Your surgery will be delayed if you do not or cannot follow these instructions.

Follow these instructions before surgery:

  • Do not shave your abdomen, pubic area, or upper thighs for at least 1 week before your c-section.
  • Take off all jewelry.

Recovering after a planned C-section

At University of Iowa Health Care, we follow an enhanced recovery program for planned c-sections. This is an evidence-based approach to help mothers recover more quickly. Our goal is to help you recover quickly and safely after your baby’s birth.

  • Women are often ready to go home 2 days after their c-section.
  • Drink clear fluids up until 2 hours before your scheduled c-section (see above).
  • We will offer you a drink and food when you are in recovery. Our goal is for you to have a normal meal as soon as you are ready.
  • We will help you get out of bed as soon as you can.
  • We will take out your urinary catheter as soon as you are walking safely.
  • We will give you scheduled pain medicines by mouth. We can give you more medicines as you need them.
  • We encourage skin-to-skin bonding time with your baby in the recovery room, and even in the operating room when possible. This will help your baby’s breathing, temperature, and heart rate. It can also help with breastfeeding if you plan to breastfeed your baby. Your partner may also enjoy skin-to-skin bonding with baby.

Washing your skin at home before surgery:

Studies have shown many diseases can be prevented or controlled by doing good body washing.

Washing with Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) helps remove germs that may cause diseases. Please wash with this the day before and day of your surgery.

Before you take a bath or shower:

  • Read the instructions given to you by your health care provider.
    • Be sure to read all the directions and warnings on the product label.
  • Start washing your skin as directed.

When you take a bath or shower using CHG:

  • Use a clean wash cloth and towel.
  • Wash your face and hair with your normal soap and shampoo before you use the CHG soap.
  • Use a wash cloth or your hands to clean your skin with the CHG soap.
    • Use enough CHG soap to cover the skin on your whole body.
    • Use the same amount as you would with your normal soap.
  • Do not use the CHG soap on your face, eyes, ears, head, or vulva.
  • Do not scrub your skin too hard.
    • Be sure to clean your abdomen with CHG soap for at least 60 seconds.
  • Do not wash with your normal soap after the CHG soap. 
  • Keep away from the water stream when you put CHG soap on. This keeps it from rinsing off too soon.
  • Rinse your body well.
    • Do not wash with your normal soap after the CHG soap. 
  • Pat yourself dry with a clean, soft towel.
  • Put on clean clothing.
  • Do not put on any deodorants, lotions or oils after showering. These might block how the CHG soap works.

What else should I know?

  • Use anti-bacterial Dial® soap if you are allergic to the CHG soap. 
  • If you are washing at a sink or bathtub, make sure it is clean before washing yourself.
Last reviewed: 
April 2020

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