A mama carries her baby for 9 months, and when it comes time to bring her little bundle of joy into the world, the last thing that crosses her mind is a cold operating room filled with surgical tools, masked strangers standing around, and having a big blue drape separating her from seeing the birth of her baby.
The majority of expectant moms envision the birth of their baby in a much happier, warmer way. They see a beautiful birthing room, or perhaps a warm pool filled with water, while being surrounded by the ones that mean the most to her.
Well, while this may be the vision that many mothers have, the truth is that countless expectant moms don’t get to have this sweet, warm vision become a reality. In fact, an estimated 33 percent of pregnant woman gave birth via a cesarean delivery in 2011.
Given the above-mentioned statistics regarding cesarean deliveries, there’s a chance that any expectant mama could end up delivering her little bundle of joy this way. Whether she is experiencing a condition that requires a C-section (placenta previa, preeclampsia, or multiple babies for example) or an emergency C-section as a result of distress to the baby or because labor isn’t progressing. Soon-to-be mama’s out there should prepared themselves just in case a cesarean delivery lies ahead.
Birthing a baby is weird in and of itself, however, there are some pretty strange things that occur during a C-section that expectant mamas may not be, well, expecting. To help prepare anyone who may end up welcoming their little beans via a cesarean, here’s a look at some super weird things that will occur throughout the process (and after having two C-sections myself, I am speaking from personal experience here!)
15 Internal Organs May Be Removed
As was previously mentioned, the womb sits behind other organs. In order to reach the uterus and the baby, these organs are moved during a C-section. These organs include the 2 major organs from the digestive system.
Many people have heard that these organs are actually removed during a C-section. However, while in some cases they may be removed, in most cases, they are just pushed aside. Do note though, every surgeon performs a C-section differently, and as such, every delivery is completely unique.
Depending on the tactics that the surgeon uses, yes, the organs that are blocking the womb may actually be removed from the mama’s body and put back in after the baby has been delivered and the surgery is complete. However, in the majority of cases, these organs are just moved to the side (which is the reason for all of that tugging and pressure.)
Now, do note that while the bladder and intestines may not be removed, the uterus may be. Many surgeons will at least partially remove the uterus to check the incision that was made in it. Because the fallopian tubes are attached to the uterus, if the upper portion is removed from the body, the fallopian tubes will be removed, too. Weird, huh?
14 Gas in the… Shoulders?
Yep. It can happen. After both of my C-sections, I felt this horrible pain in my shoulders, and I was completely shocked when the nurses told me that it was gas. Gas? How could gas be in my shoulders?
After abdominal surgery, the bowels can become sluggish. As a result, the gas pain can press up on the diaphragm, which can cause the pain to extend into the shoulders.
In order to combat the gas pain in my shoulders, my nurses gave me anti-gas medications and they encouraged me to get up to walk, which, as they said, would help to move the gas out. They also told me that if I had the urge to, you know, break wind, that I definitely shouldn’t hold back because it would make the pain in my shoulders go away.
They were totally right! The pain subsided in just a few days.
13 An Epidural Will Be Administered
Epidurals are supposed to take the pain of contractions away, so why does a C-section mama need to have one?
Well, first of all, if the C-section ends up being an emergency, the laboring mom may ask for an epidural way before she ends up having to be wheeled to the operating room. Second of all, if the C-section is planned, an epidural is still necessary. Why? – Because this is how the medication is administered that will numb the lower part of the body.
An epidural does involve a large needle being inserted into the spine, but that’s not the strange part (though I know it does sound strange… However, rest assured, there really isn’t any pain associated with having the epidural inserted.)
What is strange is that the mama has to hunch over her pregnant belly and have her hospital gown pulled all the way open in the back. Yes, the lower cheeks will be visible, which I thought was weird, for like, a second. After that, I didn’t care who say my second set of cheeks.
12 Queasiness May Occur
When I had both of my C-sections, I was overwhelmed with incredible waves of nausea. Even though I hadn’t eaten for several hours before both procedures, I still felt sick to my stomach. In fact, the nausea was so bad that I actually did end up vomiting a few times. Thankfully, my husband and a nurse were there to assist with it.
Why does nausea occur during a C-section? Blame the anesthesia. During a C-section, anesthesia is administered to the soon-to-be mom, for obvious reasons, and a notorious side effect of anesthesia is nausea.
The good news is that not all women will experience a churning, upset stomach, but there is always a chance that it could happen. Nausea was the last thing I expected to experience during a C-section, and I wish I had known about it beforehand (I despise feeling queasy.) So, I share this tidbit of information so other future moms who may have a C-section aren’t caught off-guard.
11 It’s Pretty Cold…
A lot of women report that they feel super cold during and right after a C-section. I definitely felt this way, too.
There are a few reasons why a mama may feel icy when she delivers via a C-section. For one thing, the anesthesia that is administered to numb the lower portion of the body is notorious for making patients feel cold. Add that to the fact that the C-section takes place in a pretty cold operating room, coupled with the fact that the mama is lying there wearing nothing more than a hospital gown on the top portion of her body, and yeah, she’s going to feel pretty cold.
Speaking from my own experience, I was pretty chilly during and right after the surgery, but it didn’t last for too long. And, my nurses put some blankets over me and pumped up the heat to make me feel comfortable.
10 …And Then It’s Super Hot
So, that frigid feeling that many mamas experience during a C-section doesn’t last for very long. In fact, for me, it was gone almost as soon as I was wheeled into my hospital room. Then, the icy feeling was replaced by a feeling of unbelievable heat. I mean, I felt like I was in the middle of Death Valley in August, that type of hot.
I literally had sweat running down my entire body and had to have the nurses turn up the AC and open the windows, and that didn’t even do much, despite the fact that it was the middle of one of the coldest January’s on record.
Why so hot? As my nurses explained, it was because of the surge of hormones that happens right after delivering a baby. That, coupled with the fact that the body is trying to push out all of the medicine that was just coursing through it, and the mama is left feeling like a very hot potato.
9 Total Numbness Will Occur
An epidural is a very powerful thing. For moms who deliver in the “traditional” way, an epidural can totally numb out the contractions, but they can still feel their lower extremities. For mamas who deliver via a C-section, the epidural is a completely different experience.
Not only does it numb out any contractions that the soon-to-be mom may feel, but it also completely numbs the lower portion of her body. I’ll never forget after my epidural was administered for my second C-section, I immediately felt a wave of warmth rush over the lower portion of my body.
Within just a matter of seconds, that warm turned into tingling, and then very soon after, the tingling turned to complete and total numbness. The doctor kept poking my legs and my abdomen and asking if I could feel it, and you know what I felt? I felt squat. The lower part of my body was completely numb.
8 Pulling And “Pressure”
So, this is totally weird. In fact, I think that this is probably the weirdest part of a C-section, the pulling and the “pressure,” as the doctor’s call it.
I had this idea that after I was all numbed up, I wasn’t going to feel a thing throughout the entire procedure, call me crazy! Looking back, I actually felt a lot. No, I didn’t feel them cutting me open or anything, but I did feel a lot of pulling and pressure in my abdomen.
It turns out that, unlike what I had thought, the surgeon will actually have to dig (for lack of a better word) to get to the baby. The uterus is located behind other organs, and they need to pull and push to reach it.
Given the fact that the incision is so tiny (it really is pretty small, considering that an entire human being is being pulled out of it,) it’s only natural to feel some of the pulling that’s going on down there. Honestly, it was one of the strangest sensations that I have ever experienced!
7 A Catheter Is Inserted
I was completely blindsided by this weird thing that occurs during a C-section, a catheter is inserted into the bladder! Say what?!?
With my first C-section, which was an emergency, I didn’t even know that the catheter was inserted! I was already numbed and they put it in while I was on the operating table and was in total disbelief that I was having the surgery. I didn’t realize that I had one until after I was back in my hospital room and I was holding my little guy. No wonder why I didn’t have the urge to go!
The reason why a catheter is inserted actually makes pretty good sense: Because the lower part of the body is numb, there is no way for the mama to feel when she has to go to the bathroom. Also, the bladder has to remain empty because it will be handled during the procedure…
Even though it makes total sense, I still thought it was pretty weird.
6 She Gets Shaved Down There
Even though a C-section has nothing to do with the a lady's nether regions, C-section mamas will have their pubic regions shaved prior to the operation.
Why does the area need to be shaved if the baby is coming out of the abdomen? Well, quite frankly, it’s because pubic hair tends to grow higher than the bikini line, and that’s right where the incision will be made during a C-section. Thanks to that big belly, mamas can’t see the area themselves so can’t really do a decent job shaving it on their own, and what pregnant lady really wants to concern herself with shaving her bikini line, right?
With that said, doctors need to ensure that the area where the incision will be made is sterile, and hair isn’t exactly sterile. Imagine the infection that could happen if even a single piece of hair got stuck inside when the incision was closed up? So, enter the razor.
5 Moms Arms May Be Strapped Down
This isn’t the case for all mamas, but yes, many do have their arms strapped down during a C-section. I did. For both.
Why would they want to strap down the arms? Well, it turns out that the meds that they administer to numb the mama during the procedure can make her have the shakes. This shaking is involuntary, and it can make her move around quite a bit. If her arms are flailing, there’s a good chance that she could impact the surgery.
During my first C-section, my arms were shaking uncontrollably. Though I wasn’t strapped down at first, they did have to eventually strap my arms down to ensure that I wasn’t moving my entire body. It was definitely a weird experience to have my arms strapped down while lying on an operating table, birthing my son.
During my second C-section, I actually asked if they would strap them down because of how much I shook during the first one. Go figure.
4 There’s A Lot Of People
I had envisioned my labor and delivery to be a pretty private affair. Of course, my husband was going to be in the room, and my OB and a nurse or two, but that’s about all the audience I thought I would have. Well, fast forward to a C-section and there were way more people who witnessed the birth of both of my son’s than I ever imagined – and most of them were strangers!
Yes, my husband was there, and so was my OB and a few nurses, but there was also an anesthesiologist and students! I delivered at a very prominent teaching hospital, so there were students who assisted in both C-sections. There were two students with my OB, a student nurse, and a student anesthesiologist.
Though it was way more people than I had thought there would be, I was actually cool with it. I thought it was pretty neat that so many people got to experience the miracle that is childbirth, and I also liked that I was able to help future doctors and nurses learn how to hone their craft.
3 The Creepy Crawly Feeling
After a C-section, many moms feel an incredibly overwhelming creepy crawly feeling of itchiness. For me, it was horrible! It felt like I had tons of spiders crawling over my skin! It was seriously the most intense itching I have ever experienced.
What makes a mama so itchy after having a C-section? It’s the body’s histamine reaction of the morphine. The morphine is given during the surgery to control the pain, and after the surgery, when it is removed, it causes a wicked itch.
Fortunately, I was able to find relief from this intense itching rather quickly. My incredible nurses administered Benadryl through my IV, which provided almost immediate relief. Although, the Benadryl also caused another weird sensation, a huge surge of allergy-medicine that affected my head in seconds. I wasn’t itchy, but I was definitely feeling loopy. I did sleep very well after that dose of Benadryl, I will say that.
2 Modesty Goes By The Wayside
I think that this is pretty much true for any pregnant mama, no matter how she delivers. For me, because I delivered both of my babies via C-sections, I can definitely say that feelings of modesty were thrown out the window, and not only while giving birth, but before and after, too.
From the insertion of the epidural to having pubic hair shaved by a nurse, to the very fact that the mama is laying on an operating table with her entire lower portion exposed, and yeah, there is no way that she can feel modest.
Then, after the baby is born, the incision needs to be checked around the clock, which leaves little room for modesty once more. The nurses will be helping change pads for postpartum vaginal bleeding, nurses and/or a lactation consultant will assist with breastfeeding…
The list goes on and on. Never in my life did I ever think that so many people would see so many parts of me. And you know what? It didn’t bother me in the least.
1 Spouses Get A Whole New Vision
Something else that I found totally crazy about having a C-section was the vision my husband had during the entire thing. I mean, here is this guy watching his wife being cut open to deliver their baby. And then he’s watching me being sewn up, and poked and prodded around the clock for three days. He also had to help me to the bathroom and shower because there was no way I could do it alone.
I guess it’s not really weird, but I found it to be quite fascinating to see how amazed my husband looked while I was birthing our sons via a C-section. He looked at me as if he had this whole new respect for me, and he already had tons of respect for me. It was as if he was completely awestruck by what a woman’s body is capable of doing… And I thought that was pretty cool.