Before getting pregnant my initial impression of a c-section was indifferent. I truly thought I would never have to face having one, but lo and behold I’ve gone through two. When I found out I had to have one the first go around, my reaction was to cry. I was really looking forward to giving birth naturally, but some things just don’t go as planned.
If you’ve read Mason’s birth story you probably remember reading that I have uterine fibroids that prevented me from going through the natural birth process. With a combination of genetics and pregnancy hormones, my fibroids grew and one ended up blocking the birth canal. For the safety of my babies and me, a c-section was scheduled both times and everything went smoothly.
I wanted to write this post to reassure anyone scheduled for a c-section that it is not as bad as it seems. I had never had any major surgeries prior to going into my cesarean so naturally I was nervous and fearful, but after going through the process twice I can look back at it as a pleasant experience.
Below are some things I wish were explained to me before heading in for my c-section, while staying at the hospital and during recovery.
- You will be waiting in the prep room for at least an hour before your scheduled c-section. We arrived at the hospital at 5am both times then taken to the prep room. This is where they hook you up to your IV, complete paperwork, as well as monitor you and your baby.
- The surgery room is freezing. My teeth were chattering when I arrived. I think part of it was nerves, but I do remember asking for blankets. You can also ask for a warm IV bag and that helps too!
- The epidural does not hurt as bad as you think. The needle going in is not bad. However, my first time I felt discomfort in my back and then my right leg began to burn; I did not have that experience with my second. I do remember feeling shortness of breath while the medicine was making its way through, but after it was all settled you go back to breathing normally.
- You will be given a catheter. They insert the catheter after your epidural so you won’t feel it going in, but you will get it taken out the second night and it just feels weird. I don’t remember it hurting, just uncomfortable. There will be minor bleeding so do not be alarmed.
- You might smell something burning during your operation. I had NO clue what the smell was and almost thought the building was on fire. The doctor’s used cauterization to make my incision.
- There will be a point in time where you’ll be taking short breaths. The doctors need to push down on you to massage the baby out. The anesthesiologist is by your head the whole time and updating you on what to expect. I had a different anesthesiologist each time, but both were great about explaining things to me.
- You won’t see your baby right away. The good news is you’ll hear your baby immediately. Those cries will be the most beautiful sound in the world. Once your baby is taken care of they will bring them up to your face to meet.
- They have to press on your belly multiple times after surgery. They call this massaging the fundus but it is definitely not fun. This helps prevent blood clots and is necessary for your recovery.
- You won’t be getting much sleep while at the hospital. Your expected stay is three days and two nights. The nurses will be monitoring you every hour or so to ensure your pain is bearable, as well as checking other vitals.
- You might experience some swelling right after surgery and during recovery. I retained A LOT of water with my first pregnancy, so I turned into an unrecognizable person after my c-section. A few causes might be from retaining more water in the hospital, more fluids being pumped through your IV or the pain medicine. I was also encouraged to walk a little while at the hospital, but once I got home I needed to take it easy. Elevating your legs at home really helps.
- Your incision might ooze or bleed. With my first, I was closed up with skin adhesive and there were certain areas that would ooze. My incision ended up causing a keloid, not sure if it’s from the oozing or just genetics. Second round the doctor’s used dissolvable stitches. I had no oozing, minor bleeding and minimal keloids.
- Need to take it easy for the first 4 to 6 weeks. After my first c-section, I was told I could take walks once I reached two weeks. The walks really helped because my leg strength and knees were very weak (not sure if epidural had anything to do with it). My second experience I ended up having high blood pressure because I felt good before my body was fully recovered. I was over doing it and told to elevate my feet and take it easy. Really helped.
- It’s ok to ask for help. Because of the amount of rest your body needs, you need to ask people for assistance whenever you can. Whether it’s housework, lifting your new baby or just getting something from another room…it’s ok to be waited on.
- That post-delivery constipation is no joke. I’ve heard women who have given birth naturally go through this as well. Days might pass before you go to the bathroom, but when you do it’s a literal pain in the butt. I recommend an enema.
- Your body gets used to the new routine. If you’re worried about not getting enough sleep once your baby arrives I just want you to know it will all be ok. You might become a ‘mombie’ and have days that blur together, but your body some how manages to keep up with things. Plus your new baby gives you plenty of motivation to get up and see their precious face…even if it’s at 3am in the morning.