When a mother is planning the birth of her child, she is normally planning for a natural natural birth. Many Doctors, Midwives, and Dulas will tell a mother to try for a natural birth, because we are born with the amazing gift of creating life, but certain factors will lead any of these practitioners to immediately bring the laboring mother into the surgery room to have a cesarean birth.
Different types of complications can make a vaginal birth completely unsafe for the mother. Some examples would be the mother having come down with pre-eclampsia, a chronic health condition or an infection, problems with the placenta, and even complications during labor that will lead to an emergency C-Section; i.e. the baby is too big to pass safely through the birth canal, the baby has a slow heart rate during labor (fetal distress), or the baby is in a breech position, et cetera. All of these conditions need to be addressed immediately for the safety of the mother and child.
In the United States, about 32% of babies (or 1 in 3) are delivered via Cesarean, according to the well known book What To Expect When You're Expecting (Let's face it ladies, that book was our Bible during pregnancy). When a Cesarean birth is performed, the mother is brought into surgery and the baby is then born when an incision is made through the mothers belly and uterus. Doctors must cut through a layers of muscle in order to safely remove the baby from the mothers womb. When a mother is in labor, she is able to feel her baby move further down the birth canal, along with the contractions that come with labor pains. But what about moms to be who need to have a C-Section? There are a number of things that can be felt during this surgery.
15 Movement In The Belly
Even though anesthesia is administered to a woman when she goes into surgery for a C-Section, she still may be able to feel the movement from the baby. The movement that is felt is not the same as pain, although it may still frighten the mother. The movement of the baby can be felt not only in the uterus, but can also be felt near the anus as the baby attempts to move further down the birthing canal. When most people think of anesthesia, they think they are being put to sleep. However, women who go in for surgery are given a regional anesthetic, which is only meant to numb a specific region of the body. When it comes to having a C-Section, the mother needs to be fully awake during the surgery, which is why she will still be able to feel movement of her child when she gets pushed into the OR. Feeling the movement of the baby is completely normal for the mother, regardless of what kind of medication has been administered to her.
14 Tugging And Pulling
If you ask any woman who has had to undergo a C-Section, they will tell you that tugging is one of the most common things that are felt during the surgery. This sensation doesn't come from the movement of the baby in the womb, but rather from the doctors who are performing the surgery on the mother. Doctors have to manipulate and move organs around in order to bring the uterus out to make an incision to remove the baby from the uterus. Therefor, the mother is able to feel this tugging from the doctors who are working on her. Generally, the doctor or a nurse will for-warn the mother on what they are doing and what the mother will feel in order to make the experience a little less frightening. There is no reason to worry as this is a very common part of having this type of surgery, and the mother will know what to expect. Again, there should be no pain involved due to the regional anesthetic.
13 Scary Numbness
Numbness is a pretty obvious sensation that a mother will feel when given a local anesthetic but that doesn't mean she will be completely numb to touch, but mostly numb to pain. If someone touches her belly or proceeds on making incisions, she will be completely numb but will still be able to feel a doctor touching her. Numbing can feel like a tingling sensation, where the mother is still able to feel pressure of ones touch. Unfortunately for some women, the numbness can stick around after the baby is born and after the incision has been treated and stitched. Some women claim go never have feeling around their scar even years after the surgery, and some women say that they only have partial feeling left in their abdominal area. Every woman is different so this will also differ from woman to woman, but it is nothing to cause any great stress over.
12 Uncontrollable Shaking
One of the side effects to anesthesia is the sensation of feeling cold. This can make your body shake uncontrollably, in a way similar to having fever chills. There is a good reason to this though. When given anesthesia, the mothers body temperature is lowered in order to lower the the circulation of blood within the body. When the mothers body temperature drops, the amount of blood loss also decreases, making for a safer surgery. Shaking can start during the surgery, and the mother may still feel cold and shiver well after the procedure has been done. Generally after the baby has been safely removed from the uterus and the mothers incision has been cleaned and stitched, nurses will offer a few warm blankets (If you're lucky you will get an extra warm blanket thanks to blanket warmers) to warm the mother back up. This is completely normal to feel during child birth, so it is nothing worry over.
11 Table Straps Can Make You Feel Like A Prisoner
Most women try to prepare themselves for what to expect when going into labor, but table straps is one topic that is generally looked over and moms wish they had known about this before hand. When going into surgery, the mother has to be fully awake when doctors are working on safely removing the baby. Even though anesthesia is administered, the mother can still feel pressure in her belly. In order to prevent a mother from moving, her arms are laid out (think of a cross) and then strapped down to the table. This doesn't always happen, but it is something that can come as quite a shock when going into major surgery. You can always ask the nurse to not use the straps, but in most cases they are used for the protection of the mother (even though she probably isn't going to flail her arms around and is completely numb from her chest down).
Sometimes pressure and pain get mixed up into one category, but there is a huge difference between the two. We all know what pain feels like, but feeling pressure should never be painful. Instead of feeling pain when the doctor first makes an incision, you will instead feel the pressure from the knife cutting through the muscle and through to the uterus. Even though mom is completely numb, she still has a sense of what's going on down there since she can feel the pressure from the movements of the doctor. She may also feel the pressure from the baby being removed from her uterus. This can be a very strange and anxiety driven feeling, considering mom is completely numb, but it is a completely normal feeling during the process of having a C-Section.
Just think about going to the dentist and having your gums numb. You don't feel pain but you can feel the pressure of the dentist working in your mouth, except, you know, there is a baby being removed from you instead.
9 Gas Pain
When a mother is completely numb from the waist down, she no longer has control of the muscles in the area numbed. Sorry ladies, but you will release gas without even knowing it until after its already happened. After the initial incision is made, the organs are exposed to oxygen, and air can easily get trapped inside of your body. The baby is also pushing down on the colon and rectum, which is why unexpected flatulence happens, which can sometimes be a bit painful. Generally feeling any sort of gas pain during a C-Section will be minimal, but it is still something that is not discussed and that women should be prepared for (so, you know, you're a little less embarrassed when it happens). Once the baby has arrived and mom has been stitched back up, the gas pains can get a lot worse, leading to severe cramps. Ask your nurse for some Gas-X and make sure to buy some for when you go home!
8 Guilt From Being Unable To Deliver Naturally
This is obviously not a physical sensation that a woman feels, but rather emotional and mental. A lot of women (who did not have a planned C-Section) go into labor with plans of being in the moment, giving their all into pushing their baby out via natural vaginal birth. However, in certain circumstances where a vaginal birth is not possible and dangerous for both mother and child, the mother will have to have an emergency Cesarean (which she probably didn't plan for).
The human body can do amazing things. Especially for a woman who can grow a child inside of her and completely support the child's life for 40 weeks. Our bodies are so amazing and all mother's have different ideas about how they would like their child birth to go. Unfortunately, when a mother is presented with a problem and their plans for their special birth is now altered, it can take a serious toll on her mentally and emotionally. The female body is meant to deliver a baby naturally, so if a C-Section is absolutely necessary, it does NOT mean that she has completely failed at giving birth. Sometimes unexpected things happen, and as long as the baby is born healthy and safely, then that's all that should matter.
7 Itchiness From Anesthesia
Another side effect to anesthesia is feeling itchy. No matter how badly the mom to be will want to scratch her belly, it's game over after mom is put on the operating table. Luckily mom will be completely numb from the waist down, but the placebo effect can come into play. Mom was itchy before she was given an epidural or local anesthesia, so she may still feel the urge to scratch her belly even after being numbed. This could also be a reason why table straps are used, so mom won't be able to scratch, or in any way touch her belly that is being operated on. Even after being stitched up, a mothers belly can continue to be itchy due to the scarring and the scar tissue, and the urge to scratch now becomes something that needs to be controlled. The feeling of itchiness can last anywhere from a few days, a few weeks, to even years after having a C-Section.
Nausea and vomiting are common when a woman is awake during a C-Section, but they are also considered distressing symptoms. There are different factors that can contribute to the feeling of being nauseous, which can include having low blood pressure and side effects to some of the medications administered before and during the surgery. From studies done, there are several things that can be done to reduce the feeling of being nauseous. Some of these include giving the mother more oxygen, giving the mother dopamine antagonists and sedatives. Also, being brought into the operating room and cause a woman to become anxious and nauseous. If a woman does wind up getting sick during surgery and needs to vomit, remember that it is never a good idea to vomit straight up since you will be lying on your back. Instead, your head should be turned to the side to avoid choking and to prevent any other kinds of complications. Hopefully this is a side effect that can be avoided, given the proper treatment.
5 Pounding Headache
Although this is generally rare due to the improvement of spinal needles, it is still possible for a woman to get a headache during a C-Section. When a needle is placed within the fluid filled space surrounding the spinal cord, there is a small chance that the spinal fluid can leak out. This then changes the fluid pressure around the brain and spinal cord. If enough spinal fluid leaks out, it can cause what is called a spinal headache.
Hydration is the biggest key to curing this kind of headache. If a woman is undergoing surgery, then she will be given fluids via IV to help increase cerebral spinal fluid. If a spinal headache occurs after surgery, the anesthesiologist can also create a blood patch using her own blood. The blood is inserted into a needle which is then injected into the epidural space, creating a blood clot and sealing off the hole where the fluid once leaked.
4 Most Tired Ever
Any woman who has ever gone through child birth knows that it is an exhausting but rewarding experience. Between the many hours of being in labor and the pain the comes with it, there generally is no time to take a nap (thank goodness for epidurals, which make naps a wonderful possibility). When a mother is brought into surgery, she could have been in labor for many hours before hand, meaning she is beyond exhausted as it is.
However, women who need a C-Section will feel a different type of fatigue than mothers who gave vaginal birth. When the mother is on the operating table and the doctor has made the incision through to her uterus, the amount of blood loss is that much greater than a mother who delivered vaginally. Sometimes the mother becomes anemic due to the high amount of blood loss, which in turn leads to extreme exhaustion.
3 Completely Helpless
A lot of mothers who have had to undergo a C-Section will tell you that they felt utterly helpless. This takes a mental and emotional toll on the mother, which can lead to post partum depression. While lying on the operating table in the OR, the mother is completely numb from the waist down due to a regional anesthetic. Even though some women obtain an epidural to deliver vaginally, they are still in partial control of what is going on, even though they also can not feel anything from the waist down. However, a vaginal birth still gives mom the power to push, which is the complete opposite of having a C-Section.
During the C-Section, a surgical drape is placed in between the mothers head and her belly, where she is unable to see what is going on. Not only that, but mothers who have surgery miss out on the experience itself. She basically has a team of medical professionals removing the baby for her (whether it be an elected or unplanned C-Section), which can leave her feeling helpless, just lying on her back unable to do a thing but lie there with no sense of control.
2 Shortness Of Breath
Some women claim to have a hard time breathing when they are in labor and getting ready to deliver the baby via C-Section. This is mainly due to the anesthesia. When the anesthesiologist gives the mother the proper numbing medication needed, it can sometimes be too much for her to handle. Generally the medication is meant to numb everything from the waist down through the legs, but sometimes too much is given and it is able to travel up the woman's body. When this happens, the mothers chest can begin to feel slightly numb (sometimes even completely numb), and since she can't physically feel herself breathing, she can think that she may not be breathing at all. This differs from woman to woman, as our bodies handle medication differently. The anesthesiologist will assure you that you are, in fact, breathing, even though there is a lack of feeling in your chest. This can be extremely scary to experience, but it's not something that should be a major cause for concern.
1 Becoming A Mother
After all the hours of labor, pain, exhaustion, being hungry, headaches, and every other little piece involved with child birth, holding your precious newborn baby will be the best feeling of all. Regardless of how you delivered your child, that beautiful little being is now capable of living out of the uterus. The human body truly is an amazing vessel, and what women go through, and what our bodies go through in order to bear children, is a miracle in itself. In the end,, all the stress that your body had to go through, will always be worth it. The feeling of holding your newborn on your chest for the first time, skin on skin contact, and the overall bonding is sensational. For 9 months you envisioned what your little one would look like, and now that they are finally here you can cherish each and every moment you get to spend with your new bundle of joy.
You feel what unconditional love really feels like the second you become a mother and hold him or her in your arms. I never knew I could love somebody so much even though I had just met him, but that is the best kind of love there is. Being a parent is the best and most rewarding experience a mother can ask for.