The thought of having a cesarian section to bring baby into the world can be an unpleasant thought. C-sections, after all, are major surgeries and no one wants to contemplate going under the knife with a precious bundle in tow. For many women who are expecting, c-sections are a very real thing. The number of women delivering babies in the operating room is on the rise. In present-day America, one in three women will undergo a cesarian section to have their baby. That makes 1.3 million c-section surgeries per year!
Pregnant women often take pre-birth classes. They learn to breathe through contractions, and they see how their body will change and shift to accommodate the little person trying to break free. They ask questions about what to expect on a momentous day, and seasoned mothers are always happy to share their answers and personal thoughts. But what happens if mom is one of the three women who have to have their child surgically? Did she ask questions about that? For mothers-to-be who find that they suddenly have a scheduled section, there might be time to ask away. Other moms delivery via c-section in an emergency setting, so for them, there will be no time to fire off their concerns.
Here are 15 questions that are common of mothers facing a cesarian section and five things that they can expect in the operating room.
21 Questions we all have: Who can be in the operating room with me?
When it comes to who will be by your side when they surgically remove your baby from your body, the answer is not black and white. Who can accompany mom into the actual operating room is typically dictated by hospital policy, meaning different hospitals have different rules in regards to support. Most hospitals will allow for only one person to be in the operating room with you, whether that be your spouse, your mother or your doula. One thing is sure with surgical births; the event will not be a Kardashian-like birthing party.
20 Questions we all have: What kind of anesthesia will I receive?
For starters, you will undoubtedly have some, so let any hopes and dreams of a drug-free birth fly right out of the window. The epidural, (yes the same one used for the other birthing method,) is most commonly used. In a surgical approach, a catheter is inserted into your back and medication is given on an as-needed basis. The other anesthesia option is administering a spinal. With a spinal, a one-time injection occurs, and the medication kicks in almost instantly. Different medical camps have their preferences as to whether a spinal or an epidural is the right med for the job, but in the end, you will be getting one or the other.
19 What to expect: You will be shaved
Childbirth is not a time to channel your inner modesty. When babies are born, a whole lot of professionals get a sneak peek at all of you. Women giving birth the "natural" way will surely be clothes-less from the waist down, but so will mamas on the operating table. Aside from being in nothing but your bare skin, you will get an excellent antibacterial scrub down on your thighs and belly and shaved smooth as a baby's bottom. Doctors want a clean canvas for when they cut into the pelvic area. I won't lie to you here: this part is always a little awkward.
18 Questions we all have: Will I be awake during the procedure?
The vast majority of women delivering babies in an operating room are awake for the entire procedure. Some ladies are grateful that they don't have to miss a minute of their baby's birth, while others wish that they could have been knocked out for the duration of being sawed open. While women are conscious during their c-section, they won't feel everything. Some ladies report a tugging and pulling sensation, yet others claim the pain is more. Some mamas feel nothing at all! Every delivery is different even where standard operating procedures are concerned.
17 Questions we all have: Are there any side effects from the medications?
Sure most cesarian sections go off without a hitch, but some, unfortunately, leave mommies with unpleasant side effects. Because of the medications that are given during the surgery, mothers can struggle from a laundry list of pains and ailments even after the baby has safely arrived into the world. Nausea, vomiting, and shivering are common after spinal anesthesia gets administered as are temporary back pain and discomfort. Ringing in the ears and unease when urinating have also been reported by women who have undergone anesthesia during their deliveries.
16 What to expect: Pain meds post-surgery
You probably blew a kiss to a medication-free delivery when they wheeled you into the surgical room to deliver your baby. No one having a c-section is taking that on without modern medicine's medicinal assistance. As bummed at non-medicating mamas might be at the turn of events that went down in labor and delivery, they might not be out of the clear regarding pain meds even after the baby arrives.
Sure moms can decline to take medications to help them control post-surgery pain, but they will be offered some relief, and for a good reason too. Your body just underwent something incredible and taxing. The medications provided can often times ease the stress that your body is feeling after your surgery.
15 Questions we all have: How long will the operation take?
Once doctors get into the surgical room and start the process of delivering your child, the c-section should run roughly 45 minutes to an hour. Now, this is assuming that the delivery doctors don't run into any unforeseen surgical roadblocks. C-sections tend to be as snappy as possible though. The longer they have you opened up on a table, the more room there is for problems to take place. While an hour seems like a drop in the bucket when it comes to pregnancy and labor and delivery, for some moms the process feels like forever.
14 Questions we all have: What is the recovery time?
Recovery time is different for every woman, and honestly, it's different for every c-section. With my first c-section, I could barely move off of the couch for a solid month. The mere thought of rolling over in bed sent shivers down my spine. The birth of my second daughter far more comfortable and I was back to myself after a couple of weeks. With the twins, I was up and moving almost immediately. Because this is major surgery, you will have some discomfort for several weeks, and your doctor will likely limit your activity. Typically you'll have your restrictions lifted after 2-3 weeks if no issues come about after delivery.
13 What to expect: Expect a more extended hospital stay
If you have had a cesarian section, you will probably be camping out at the hospital for the next three days. In general, hospital stays will be more extended for mothers who delivered surgically than for their counterparts. Remember, you have just had major surgery. The doctors will want to make sure your stats have returned to normal before sending you home. No one wants a new mother to go home, only to have to return to the hospital a few days later with a raging infection or a host of other concerns.
12 Questions we all have: Will I be able to hold my baby right away?
Hopefully! Most of this depends on the baby herself. If no issues arise regarding you or your baby, then many hospitals will let you have some beneficial skin-to-skin time. Don't plan on cuddling your little one until the doctors sew your wounds up and the nurses look over your baby, making sure all is well. If you have a section because of concerns with your baby, then her health will come before your need to rock and cradle her instantly. Don't be surprised if it takes longer than you had initially imagined to hold your sweetie in your arms though. You are kind of at the mercy of circumstance.
11 Questions we all have: What can I expect to feel during the process?
The level of feeling in a cesarian section varies greatly. Some women experience a very mild tugging sensation in the abdomen area, and others will swear to you that the might as well have foregone the epidural the pain was so great. Everybody has a different threshold for pain, but also every team of doctors administers the medication differently. I distinctly remember the anesthesiologist announcing that he was using a lower amount of medication on me when I had my twins. I felt some things people. With my oldest daughter, I swear I felt absolutely nothing. I looked up and BAM! There she was, pink and screaming in my face,
10 What to expect: You don't get a front row seat to the action
Some women will want to see their entire birth front and center. They may have spent months envisioning themselves pulling their baby out of their body all by themselves. Women who deliver in the non- cesarian section manner sometimes get a mirror to assist them in witnessing the miracle of birth. There will be none of this in a section though. After you get cleaned, shaved and spinaled up, a sheet will be hung separating your line of sight from the location of your surgery. You will hear and feel what is happening, and doctors often hold the baby up as soon as they pull him out, but you won't see the actual process go down.
9 Questions we all have: Can I still nurse my baby?
You sure can! If you didn't get your all natural birth of your dreams, you could still nurse your baby after your operation if that is your choice. Some moms will have harder recoveries and wait it out until they are in their postpartum room, feeling more comfortable. Others will be able to get right to work while they are in the recovery room. You may consider some different nursing positions while your abdomen is healing up though. The football position is a favorite among cesarian section moms because it tends to put less pressure on the incision. Staff at the hospital can help you find a way to nurse that works for you and your baby.
8 Questions we all have: Can my partner cut the cord after my c-section?
It's doubtful. The vast majority of hospitals aren't keen on the partner getting into the surgical procedure itself. While your partner might have been dreaming of that magical moment, your doctor isn't all that concerned with his umbilical cord aspirations. He or she is far more worried about keeping the surgical space as sterile as possible and won't want to take any chances at cross contamination. While many health care professionals in European countries are moving towards "gentler" cesarian sections, we here in the states aren't there yet. Your man is better off holding your hand or the camera, not a pair of umbilical snipping scissors.
7 Questions we all have: Can I opt for cord-clamping after a c-section?
We are hearing a whole lot about the benefits of delayed cord clamping these days. The risks to cord clamping are minimal, and for nonsurgical births, many practitioners will consider a mother's request to wait a few minutes before severing that ever important tie between baby and mom. When a cesarian section takes place, however, the cord clamping might not give out the same bang for the buck.
The reason is that the uterus has been cut and it does not contract the same way as a uterus that has delivered a baby in the other manner. It's also riskier to leave a woman's abdomen open while everyone stands around letting the cord pump away.
6 What to expect: You will have a period of separation from your baby after the birth
You and your newborn baby have been by one another's side from since she was a mere bundle of cells. You might not want to be separated from her for even a second after she finally arrives into the world. If you just had a major surgery though, prepare yourself for a bit of alone time. In many cases, not all, babies are taken to the nursery for general assessment while mothers are monitoring in the recovery room. When both receive the all-clear from doctors, they join back up in the postpartum room where they can celebrate this joyous occasion with other family members.
5 Questions we all have: What are some potential issues associated with cesarian sections?
Of course, some risks are bound to exist when it comes to a cesarean section. C-sections are no small surgery, not by a long shot! Any time a significant operation is happening, issues can arise. Common complications associated with a c-section are the development of clots during the post-surgical period, infections that can set in and an increased chanfe of depression.
The medications themselves carry other side-effects and possible medical complications as well. Surgery is risky business, but in many birthing cases, this is the safest option to get the baby delivered, risks or not.
4 Questions we all have: Once a section always a section?
Once there was a belief that if a woman had a cesarian section, the rest of her births would have to be cesarian sections also. This viewpoint was a bit of a bummer for mothers who wanted to possibly experience a more natural birth at least once in their lives. These days doctors are more open to discussing the possibilities of mothers trying natural births after surgical ones. Your doctors can consider risk factors and help determine if a VBAC birth is a solid option for you.
3 What to expect: A high rate of success
In developed nations, cesarean sections have a high rate of success. Even though you might be shaking in your hospital gown at the mere thought of giving birth that way, please know that you are in capable hands. Yes, this is a big surgery you are undergoing, but in regards to risk, it isn't up there with many of the other ones that you might face in your lifetime. The chance of not making it through a c-section is about 20 out of 100,000. That isn't so high, but it is higher than that of natural birth.
2 Questions we all have: Will I get a catheter?
Yup. Sorry ladies, but if you are headed in for a cesarean section, then you are likely getting the catheter as well. The insertion of a catheter isn't something anybody looks forward to, especially when they happen to be battling contractions at the same time, but the silver lining here is your catheter might be completed after your anesthesia has already kicked in. Meaning you won't have to feel the discomfort the catheter often brings.
1 Questions we all have: When should I eat after surgery?
Your first meal won't be waiting for you back in the recovery room. It's going to be ice chips and sips of water for a little while. The doctors will have to make sure that you have no severe bleeding happening before they can give you the go ahead on the hospital delicacies. Most women are allowed to eat something roughly eight hours after their surgery. This might go by in a pinch if you spend the day staring at your brand new baby, but also don't be surprised if it feels like an eternity. The whole experience has been known to leave ladies famished!
Sources: thestir.cafemom.com, romper.com, bellybelly.com, transform.childbirthconnection.org, parents.com