Photo by Stephanie Sunderland
These days, C-sections are becoming more and more common. When it comes to preparing for a planned C-section, it can be overwhelming. Here are some tips and stories from my own experience.
On June 6, 2014, I received an emergency C-Section to bring my son Henry into the world. Thankfully I had read up on C-sections in my “What to Expect” book, as well as listened to friend’s birth stories about their own C-sections. Although many of moms reading this may be planning on having a C-section, I encourage the rest of you to read this as well. Coming from someone who didn’t plan on it, I would have loved more in-depth information, especially because my C-section happened quickly!
What to know about the C-section process:
– You will receive a catheter. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought, mainly a pressured pinch.
– You have to separate from your significant other. They will go into a pre-op waiting room, put on scrubs, and wait to be brought into the operating room. It is hard for both of you to be separated, but it has to be done. You, on the other hand, will be going through the pre-op ritual…
– Your pre-op may be a bit unnerving. My experience was this: I was brought into the FREEZING operating room with nurses, stripped down, and prepared for the spinal shot. The nurses came over to hold me and comfort me while I received my spinal.
– The spinal is that big needle you hear about. Although I didn’t see it, I knew it was large from my birthing class. After the anesthesiologist gave me a local anesthesia shot and started the spinal, I jumped, which is NOT a good move when someone is putting a needle in your spine. Thankfully, the anesthesiologist gave me more local anesthesia, so all I felt was uncomfortable pressure but completely tolerable.
– The numbing begins almost immediately. My legs were swung onto the table, and within a minute I couldn’t feel them. The anesthesiologist stayed with me the whole time monitoring me.
During the Operation:
– You may get the chills. I was FREEZING. Teeth chattering, couldn’t stop shaking, FREEZING. Despite the heated scrubs (a gown with holes for a tube to pump heated air on you), I couldn’t shake it. I was told that this was a side effect from anesthesia.
– Your significant other will come in and be by your side. My husband was brought in about fifteen minutes into the procedure.
– You can feel the movement. It is like pressure, and very odd! You know something is happening, you know your body is being moved, but you can’t feel your lower extremities.
– You feel the birth. It was like suctioning motion. The medical team gave me a warning so I would know he was coming. As I said before, you can feel your body being moved, but this was tons of pressure. It is truly surreal because all of a sudden: a baby is crying!
– Check your options for skin to skin. Unfortunately, my hospital didn’t allow for skin to skin after a C-section, but I know every hospital is different, so check with your doctor!
– You may feel nauseous. Unfortunately, I experienced another side effect: dry heaves. It’s a little unsettling, but know that if it does happen to you, it has happened to others.
– Your catheter will remain in until you are able to get up to use the bathroom on your own.
– You will benefit from walking as soon as you are able. It definitely hurts, but trust your nurses when 12 hours post op they say, “Let’s get you walking!” I looked at them like they were crazy! It’s difficult, but it will aid your recovery. Walk as much as you can in the hospital. Make sure someone is with you the first couple of days in case you experience a dizzy spell.
– Elevate your legs. I had a lot of swelling in my legs, and I ended up getting compression sleeves from the hospital.
– DRINK FLUIDS. Gatorade. Water. Whatever you can get! If you’re the type who doesn’t like water, check out Nuun electrolyte tabs. They taste great and will aid your recovery.
– Stay ahead of the pain. I had to ask for pain medication at my hospital, and if I forgot and fell asleep, I woke up in some serious pain. Write down when you take your medicine so you (or those with you) can keep you comfortable.
– Bring a breastfeeding pillow to the hospital. This will cover your incision area and keep you from straining your back as you learn to nurse.
– Take as much rest as you can. We opted to send our son to the nursery at night, and he was brought to us when he was hungry.
When you go home:
– Have a pillow in the car to hug. The potholes will not feel good. Holding a pillow helps your stomach brace for impact.
– If your bedroom is on the second floor, limit your stair use. Get help going up and down the stairs. You may feel okay, but the soreness comes in waves. Take it easy as long as possible.
– If your bed is high, get a stool to step up on. Be extra cautious when swinging your legs over to get out of bed as well.
– Continue to hydrate. As crazy as it sounds, you may forget to drink! Keep a refillable water bottle around to tote with you.
– Know your limits. It may be hard for some and easy for others, but leave the housework for a while. You would be surprised how much you use your stomach muscles to scrub things, and I found out the hard way!
– Embrace the fact that you just had major surgery and your baby is okay. As limiting as recovery can be, remind yourself of the precious life you have as a result. Remember, it is not about how the delivery goes according to your plan, but how your baby was born safely.
Finally, the best piece of advice I received: You will feel better every day. It is true. You can count on it! There will be some sore days and some not so sore days, but rest assured, your body will recover as you get to know your new little one.