An elective cesarean section is when a mom presents to the hospital on a scheduled day at a scheduled time to have a cesarean section for previously diagnosed indication. So mom’s there because she had a prior cesarean section and wants to have another one, or mom’s there having a cesarean section because her baby is breaching, didn’t want to be cooperative as far as a vaginal delivery.
An emergent cesarean section is something that happens entirely unexpected and unplanned, though not necessarily not accommodated for you at the hospital.
When a baby’s life is in peril, and that can be something that happens because of a cord prolapse, a cord compression, a placental abruption, a recent motor vehicle accident, all sorts of different things, but when the decision is made that if a delivery is not performed quickly and promptly that we could have a baby that’s compromised or die, an emergent cesarean section is mobilized and it is exactly the same process as in elective cesarean section though the time from a decision to move to cesarean section to the time the baby is actually delivered is markedly short.
So in an elective cesarean section we may take an hour, hour and a half getting a patient ready, answering questions, starting IVs, putting in catheters, mobilizing an OR team, getting the patient to the OR, getting them comfortable with their anesthetic and having a baby. In an emergent cesarean section all those things are compressed into maybe a ten-minute period of time.
In a great big tertiary hospital with everybody here, all parts of the team here, those deliveries can be done in 8 to 10 minutes and that means, from the time we tell the patient that they need a c-section to the time the baby’s actually out in the pediatric or nursery team’s care, but all the steps still have to take place.
Education of the patient, getting them on board with why are you doing what you are doing, what they can expect, making sure they are comfortable, moving them to the room, all the procedure leading into, getting into the abdomen, getting the baby out are exactly the same. It just happens in a very compressed period of time.
Once the baby’s out and the emergency is over, then everything goes back to a meticulous evaluation and closure of the abdomen and getting the family back together again.