Sometimes it is not possible to have a normal vaginal birth and a caesarean is done instead. A caesarean is when the baby is delivered through the mother's abdomen.
Caesareans may be planned during pregnancy. These are elective caesareans.
An elective caesarean might be needed if the baby is presenting in a breech position, or if the placenta is lying over the opening of the birth canal for example.
Sometimes a caesarean must be done when labour has started and there is a problem. It may become apparent that the baby is too big to pass through the mother's pelvis, or the baby could become distressed after a long labour.
This would be an emergency caesarean. The birth partner might not be allowed to be present during an emergency caesarean.
In either case the actual procedure is very similar, although an elective caesarean would usually feel much more relaxed.
The mother or her birth partner must sign a consent form. Caesareans are typically done under local anaesthetic (a spinal block or an epidural) although sometimes a general anaesthetic may be used.
The mother's pubic hair is shaved, her bladder is drained, and a drip is inserted into her hand. A barrier is placed so that she cannot see the operation if she is awake.
A small cut is made along the mother's bikini line and then another in her uterus. She will feel a tugging and pulling sensation as the baby is brought out into the world.
It only takes a few minutes for the baby to be born. The mother then has to be stitched up, which can take about half an hour.