What They Don't Tell You Before Your C-Section
Anymore, a C-section is becoming a more and more widely performed surgery. Both of my children were born with a C-section and there are things I learned from the first one, that made my hospital stay and recovery more comfortable after my second one. These are things that no one shared with me in the birthing classes or from my friends who had C-Sections. So I'm sharing them with you in the hopes that you can have a more comfortable surgery and recovery.
In The Operating Room:
1. The Hardest Part Is the Spinal
The anesthesiologist asks you to sit on the edge of the bed, lean over and arch your back. This is not an easy thing to do with a humongous, pregnant tummy in the way. Ask one of the nurses to help you (although both times, the nurses did this anyway for me.) The nurse pulled my arms forward so the doctor could put in the spinal. Right after this, it feels like warm water in a spilling over your legs.
2. C-Section Babies Don't Cry
No one told me this and when my first child was born, I freaked out. I kept asking, "Why isn't he crying?" I was convinced there was something wrong that no one was telling me. I couldn't see because the big blue sheet was in the way and I was strapped to the table. Eventually the anesthesiologist nurse told me that C-Section babies don't cry until they've had their lungs sucked out. Once that happened, Joel screamed. He was fine. I was ready for this when my daughter was born.
3. It's Freezing
When you think about it, this makes sense. It is, after all, an operating room. It's weird though. You're body tells you that you're cold, but because of the spinal, you can't feel it. I was shaking and shaking, cold.
4. You Might (will) Throw-up
I have a weak stomach anyway, but something about having major surgery, makes me throw-up. It's not a big deal and both times the anesthesiologist nurse was prepared. They told me most people throw-up especially when the doctor shoves your insides back in after they take out the baby. Don't let them give you "happy juice" though because you will not remember anything and you'll want to remember the first time they let you hold the baby. After that, if you still fell like throwing up, take the "happy juice."
Things To Bring:
Bring your own soap and shampoo. Some hospitals provide them, but I prefer to have my own things. It just makes it more comfortable. Along those lines, don't be afraid to ask a nurse to help you the first time you take a shower. You'll be weak and have a hard time standing. It's easier to have another set of hands to steady you.
Take your own pillow. You'll spend the greater part of the first few days in bed and having your own pillow makes a difference. I used the hospital pillows to prop myself up and pad the hard metal and plastic around the bed.
The hospital towels were like hand towels. Not really made for wrapping around you and drying off. I brought my own towels from home. Just be aware that you'll be bleeding and maybe oozing (sorry to be gross.) So take a towel that you don't care if it gets that stuff on it. I also brought my own blanket. That's just a comfort thing. I wanted some of my own things with me in the hospital.
First let me say something about underwear. If you are used to wearing any type of bikini cut underwear, you need to go out and buy some briefs BEFORE you go to the hospital. Why? Your incision is at your BIKINI line so all your bikini cut underwear will sit right on your incision. Ouch! Also, if you send your husband (or other male) out to get new underwear for you, tell him that underwear has different sizes than clothes. So a size six in underwear is much bigger than a size six pant.
On the first day, I just wore the hospital gowns. I didn't have the energy to get up and change clothes. You'll have a catheter, so no pants. After my catheter was removed, I wore night gowns. I didn't want anything touching my sore belly. Just having a waistband hurts the first day or two. By day three, I wore sweats. To go home, don't think that you're going to get into your old jeans. That doesn't happen for weeks. (Actually for me both times it was over a month before I wore button up pants.) Just bring your favorite pair of maternity pants and wear those home.
A Few Other Things:
Even though it's not your bed, the people in the hospital cook and clean for you and take care of your baby while you're sleeping and do a thousand other things for you. Stay there until the hospital (or your insurance) kicks you out. Recover as much strength as you can before you have to go home and do all the at home things.
I found my recovery time to be longer with my second surgery than my first. I think it was because I had another child to look after and "run" after so I didn't rest as much.
A note on drugs:
I don't like to take pain medication. Once my IV was out (24 hours after surgery) I just took low dose pain medication. I found that getting up and moving around helped more with the pain than taking high level pain meds. When I went home, I took Tylenol and ibuprofen except when I was going to be sleeping. Make sure to ask if there are any interactions between over the counter pain medicines and the prescription pain medication you're taking.
If your doctor offers an incision pain pump, do it. It helped me through the first few days and made it easier for me to get up and move around. It is a small tube that is inserted into the incision and gives off a numbing medicine. They took mine out after about two days (maybe three.) The only annoying part about this was carrying the thing around when I went to the bathroom. I had to find a place to set it down to use both of my hands to pull myself up.
I don't feel like I missed out on any grand experience of labor having my kids by C-Section. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how they arrive in the world, just that they are here and healthy.
shellyakins (author) from Illinois on February 23, 2012:
That was my thought, too when I wrote this. I figured others out there wanted to know the things that I learned and wished someone had told me.
HollyRamsey from Chicago area on February 22, 2012:
Always interesting to hear others' experiences! I've had 4 of my 5 by C-section and just wrote a hub about recovering from C-sections. My niece just had her first and was so scared, I figured there are probably lots of ladies out there who want to hear from those of us who have been there, done that.
shellyakins (author) from Illinois on April 28, 2011:
Ms_B, thanks for the feedback. I took all the childbirth classes and they all say that babies cry when they are born. Now I tell everyone that I know that C-Section babies may not cry so other mothers don't freak out like I did.
Congratulations, jpcmc on the upcoming birth of your child. It's such an exciting time! Enjoy it because they don't stay babies for long.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on April 27, 2011:
Great information. I'm sure this will come in handy when my wife delivers our first baby in a few eeks time. Though we are not sure if we are going to have a C section or normal delivery yet. It's nice to know thee info.
Ms_B on April 18, 2011:
Interesting read Shellyakins. I had to have a general anesthetic for my second delivery. It was quick and painless and I agree with you both I have never felt cheated. I thought it was really interesting that c section babies don't cry, important to know when your anxiously waiting for signs of life.
shellyakins (author) from Illinois on April 14, 2011:
Thanks, cat. My children were delivered by different doctors at different hospitals and my experience was different each time (and different from friends of mine.) I just wish I'd thought about some of these things before my procedure. Especially the underwear :)
Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on April 12, 2011:
Thank you, Shelly. Everyone will find the experience unique, but you've eased a lot of fear. My recollections are a little different, but I agree that I never felt cheated by having a c-section.