April is C-section awareness month! I had no idea there was an awareness month for this until recently! I think it’s so great, because there are a lot of misconceptions and fear surrounding c-sections, so it’s great that there are more and more resources and support gathering for women who go through this unique experience to bring their babies into the world! So, in honor of that, I decided to write this post on what to expect before, during, and after your c-section!
I have been through both a planned c-section and an unplanned/emergency c-section so I know a little bit about both scenarios! I think all women, whether you are planning one, have a history of them, or not, should prepare mentally for the potential of a c-section. Being mentally prepared is EVERYTHING when it comes to c-sections and being able to feel positive about them, because it is a very vulnerable and unique experience.
BEFORE: Before both of my c-sections I was incredibly nervous. So nervous that I was shaking uncontrollably. With my planned c-section, the doctors were in no rush, so there was a lot of down time before I went into the OR. So, for hours I was shaking. It was very uncomfortable and annoying lol. If possible, I would ask for something to calm your nerves or bring something to calm your nerves! Whether that’s essential oils, a special music playlist, really anything that will bring you some comfort and help you stay calm. What really helped me both times, was warm blankets. Even though I wasn’t shaking due to being cold, the weight and comfort of the warm blankets really helped calm me down. I had not expected to be that nervous with my planned one, but once we got to the hospital, it hit me. So, expect your nerves to be at an all-time high! It’s an exciting time whether you’re scared or not, you’re about to meet your baby!! If you find yourself in an unplanned/emergency c-section, things will be a little more rushed before your c-section. I felt very out of control, and the only thing we could do was pray and just go with it. Expect to see everyone (doctors, nurses, husband) getting all of their surgical gowns, masks, gloves, etc. on quickly and people coming in and out of your room. Adding things to your IV and asking you questions to get you prepped. Nurses and doctors talking amongst themselves and saying things that may go over your head. Don’t be afraid to ask them what’s going on and to repeat themselves. I had to do this with my unplanned c-section. You should not be left out of decisions that pertain to your body and baby. With both of my boys, the spinal block caused my blood pressure to drop and make me nauseous. With Wesley I threw up and I was given anti-nausea meds that made me extremely tired. Ask specifically for something that won’t make you drowsy if possible! Another important thing to know is, you will have to go to the OR without your husband/ support person before they get started. For whatever reason they have to get you prepped before your husband comes in. It feels really strange being in a bright large room surrounded by so many medical professionals without your support there, but it’s only a few minutes! They will give you your spinal block (unless you already had an epidural from labor), get you situated on the table and make sure your blood pressure is stable. They’ll check to make sure your spinal block is working too!
DURING: During both of my c-sections the sensations were basically the same. Both times I felt no pain, just a TON of pressure. Like someone pushing and shoving on you. It sounds scary, but honestly, like with every part of pregnancy and childbirth, you just take it moment by moment. Try to find your “happy place”. Have your husband talk to you to distract you. I don’t remember this with Wesley, but with Lincoln, my jaw was extremely tight which was super uncomfortable. I think it was due to nerves. My unplanned c-section was much more nerve wracking during because I had not mentally prepared for it and I was worried about my baby. Just know, they can get babies out extremely fast if need be, so try not to worry (much easier said than done, I know). Another thing that surprised me was hearing the doctors and nurses chatting during my c-sections. I don’t know why that was surprising, but it was lol. You will also hear a lot of noises during the c-section. Lots of whirring and sucking noises that can sound kind of weird. Just remember these are normal. I kept asking my doctor if everything was going okay (lol) and the anesthesiologist kept telling me to take a nap (obviously he was a man who had never had major abdominal surgery to get a baby out while AWAKE lol). The first part of the surgery (getting the baby out), is the fastest part. Once the baby is out, you’ll hopefully hear them cry right away and the doctor will lift them over the curtain so you can see them (or you can request a clear curtain to see them come out). Make sure you ask one of the nurses to take pictures! Trust me, you’ll want them! They have to suction baby’s nose out to get the excess fluid out that is usually pushed out during a vaginal delivery. Then you can either have your husband hold them up to you or hold them yourself. Both times I felt way too out of it to hold them myself, so I had Brian hold them up to me so our cheeks could touch, and I could stroke their faces. Now that the baby is out, you’re going to be so distracted, you won’t mind all the tugging and pulling sensations and you’ll just be staring at your baby. My second c-section took a little longer closing me up, because they had to sew through scar tissue that was there from my previous one. The closing you up part is the longer part anyway, and towards the end you start to get pretty antsy to get out of there and hold your baby. Once you are all closed up, they ask your husband to take the baby to your room so they can clean you off and get you back on your hospital bed. They move you to your bed and get you back to your room. It can be very scary because you really are completely helpless and have to totally rely on others to move you around and take care of you.
AFTER: Once you’re all done and back with your baby, you get to do everything you would do after a vaginal delivery…except walk lol. You will be numb for at least a day, and you can’t eat anything except popsicles or jello for several hours, up to a day. Right after both of my deliveries, I had a major adrenaline rush and felt AMAZING. You’re still super out of it from the medicines, but you feel good. Expect quite a bit of swelling, especially in your feet, but really all over. They will put these annoying massager things on your legs to prevent blood clots. Mine were really itchy, but once you’re walking around you won’t need them. The most annoying thing to expect is your face being extremely itchy. It’s a side effect of one of the medications and oh. my. word. It is so annoying. I was clawing at my face for at least a full day lol. Bring some soothing lotion for that. The real pain doesn’t start until your anesthesia wears off around 24 hours later. Once that happens you are really going to want to stay on top of your pain meds…trust me. You will also have crazy gas pains from the surgery. This can hurt just as bad if not worse than after birth pains sometimes. This is where it’s going to get more detailed so if you’re squeamish or a man, you might want to stop reading lol. I don’t want to sugar coat it, because I want you to be prepared. It is extremely painful. They will want you to walk on day 2, because the faster you get up and moving, the faster your healing goes. Even taking five steps will seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever done. You will be dizzy so make sure you have something or someone to hold on to. Even walking from your bed to the chair in your hospital room is considered successful. Anything counts! You will have quite a bit of pain even with medications. Things like laughing, coughing, and of course, using the restroom can bring you to tears for at least a week. Hold a pillow on your abdomen if you need to cough and stay on top of your stool softeners (sorry, but trust me). You can even take a small pillow into the bathroom with you to hold against your tummy if you want the extra abdominal support. Any sort of use of your abdomen will feel like you are being torn apart. So, when you sleep, sleep propped up so that you can easily nurse the baby in bed, use a bassinet like the halo bassinet that has a side that can lower for you. Some people also recommend an abdominal binder or some sort of tummy compression. It helps with the feeling of your stomach having no support when you walk, but I personally didn’t use one because the thought of anything touching my incision seemed like it would be very painful. Also, make use of that peri bottle because any sort of bending or rotating is going to hurt, even just to wipe. And if you’ve also been through labor, you will be extremely sore all over. A lot of people don’t realize this, but even after c-sections, you WILL bleed. In fact, I nearly hemorrhaged after Wesley and ended up having some massive clots come out. Ladies warn your husbands, because when the nurse came in to press on my belly and get the clots out, Brian was not ready for all of that to come out and wasn’t looking away (lol). Don’t be afraid at any point to speak up for yourself. If something feels off, tell someone. If you’re in pain, tell someone. Now is not the time to be a hero. You just had major abdominal surgery AND you have a baby to take care of. And in some cases, you ALSO went through labor, so let people take care of you and take it EASY. You will probably feel frustrated, but I promise after a couple of weeks, your abilities and strength will begin to return. So, let yourself have this time. By your six week postpartum check, you shouldn’t be bleeding anymore, just like a vaginal delivery. Your doctor will look at your scar, clean up any glue that may still be stuck to it, and check for hernias. You will still probably feel some pain in your scar for a while. The sensitivity on mine never really went away. As you regain some nerve feeling, it may burn in some areas, but some areas might stay numb forever. It just depends on the person. Five months postpartum from my second and I still feel a burning sensation in some areas and sensitivity, but nothing that interferes with my daily life. You may also have some scar tissue build up. I have a hard knot on one part of my scar that is just a bulge of scar tissue. Everyone’s body heals differently, so you may or may not develop this. I’ve had it in the same spot since my c-section with Wesley. It’s just how my body heals on that side, I guess. Overall, the healing process is probably longer than a typical vaginal delivery, but you WILL heal. Assuming there are no major complications, every day you will feel less and less pain. It just takes a little more time.
I hope this was helpful and informative! I don’t want to scare anyone, but I want to be honest so that you can be prepared! It is NOT easy. I don’t think it can ever be easy to have a child. It’s hard and painful, but the pain does not last, just like any delivery. And you are so much stronger than you think! Trust me, once you have your baby in your arms, it will all be worth it. That’s not to say you won’t struggle emotionally or mentally with it, but it’s always worth it to bring your baby into the world safe and healthy.