Can Someone Stay During a C-Section?

A mother holding her baby after a c-section

A cesarean section or c-section is a surgical birth. This means that the birth will take place in an operating room. In general, guests are not allowed to attend a surgery, but exceptions are usually made when surgery is also childbirth.

Benefit of C-Section Support

No matter what kind of birth you have, having someone with you helps you to stay calm and focused on the birth. It is also important to have others witness the birth with you, which is why pregnant people often chose their partners to go with them to the surgery, even though that person may or may not be the most comforting to them. 

If you have a doula, partner, or family member with you during a c-section, they can inform you about what is happening, be by your side to comfort you, take photos, and remind staff of your wishes.

Hospital Policies

Whether or not you can have someone with you during a c-section is generally determined by hospital policy. The vast majority of hospitals will allow you to have one person of your choice to attend the birth. This can be your partner, doula, mother, friend, etc.

Why only one person? The operating room is meant to be an immaculate room, and space can be tight. The room is filled with people who will assist in your surgery, such as:

  • Anesthesiologist
  • Circulating nurse
  • Nursery nurse
  • Scrub nurse
  • Assistant surgeon/first assistant
  • Doctor

Having someone stay with you is generally only allowed if you have an epidural or spinal and not general anesthesia. In an emergency, there may not be time to allow a support person. It may also depend on if you've been in labor or if this is a scheduled cesarean section.

Your doctor, nurse, or hospital administration can give you the specifics of when someone might not be allowed to stay with you.

Before Surgery

Typically, the person attending the birth with you will be asked to wait in the hall outside the operating room for a few minutes before joining you. They will be asked to wear scrubs or a special suit that covers their clothing. This includes a hat, shoe covers, and a face mask. This is all for your protection during the surgery.

During this time, you will have your body prepared for the birth, including draping your body, giving you oxygen, and generally preparing you for the surgery. If you have not already had an epidural in labor, you will typically be given a spinal or epidural during this point in the process.

Some hospitals will allow you to have one person plus your doula. This varies from hospital to hospital and sometimes even depends on the doula. Be sure to ask about a hospital's policies when you take a hospital tour before giving birth.

In the Recovery Room

You will often be allowed to have two people total in the recovery room, even if you only had one person in the operating room. This is a great time to have your doula or other supportive person come back to help you hold the baby and get breastfeeding off on the right foot.

While you should not be in pain, you just had surgery and may find yourself feeling anxious, shaky, etc. So this tends not to be a great time for visitors in general.

A Word From Verywell

While there are many benefits to having support people in the room with you during a c-section, your specific circumstance and hospital policy will be deciding factors on whether or not they are able to be with you during surgery. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor about the hospital's policy on guests in the operating room.

Even if you don't anticipate a c-section, it can be difficult to know how birth will unfold. Preparing in advance by having shared expectations can make for a calmer birth environment.

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By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.