Most women do not plan on having a C-section with their first pregnancy. This is a conversation saved for doctors and patients during some point in the labor process. A woman can be an hour in, twelve hours in, etc. The reason for the cesarean might be that labor is not progressing, the water was broken a number of hours ago, or the fetal monitor is showing the baby is in distress. Either way, you are now holding on and buckling up for what will surely be an unexpected and crazy 2-3 hour ride.
Your hormones start to go a little wild as a string of emotions rush through you. You are scared, hell, this is major surgery, and you want to make sure both you and the baby come out of this okay. You are anxious, and not sure what to expect. If you have not yet had a spinal, one is surely coming your way. And, if you were being induced, you are exhausted from however many hours you were allowed to labor up until this point.
So you survive the spinal, the surgery itself, and make it to the recovery room. Here, you are given a pain pump, and the chance to have skin to skin contact, and nursing and cuddle time with your new bundle of joy. What a wonderful blessing life is. However, only now are you going to start to experience the crazy things that happen after a C-section, the ones that no one talks about, but every Mama who has had one surely knows.
15 Drugs Make You Feel Looney Tunes
Depending on the particular cocktail that has been mixed up for your pain pump (in many cases this is Dulotin) you will experience a variety of side effects just from taking the pain medicine. In recovery, you are generally warned that you do not want to wait too long before using your pain pump, because as the particular level of pain relief wears off, it is difficult to get your pain managed back to the same level of comfort.
You may even find yourself hitting the button more often then the pump is allowed to give you the drug, no worries, this is why it is regulated. What you probably were not expecting is that you feel like you are floating around in the clouds somewhere in outer space, and your eyes feel heavy, and your mouth is dry.
This might otherwise be a calming experience that would put you to sleep, however, such is not the case today. You have a newborn baby to take care of. You will be handed your baby to nurse on demand every 2-3 hours, or to give your newborn a bottle. You also have company in and out of your room telling you congratulations, and welcoming your new bundle of joy. If only you could see who is here to visit you without closing one eye and squinting like you are drunk.
14 Laughing, Coughing And Sneezing Are Painful AF
So you start to come out off your drug coma, and you have to clear your throat, or sneeze, or someone makes a joke. Brace yourself! This is going to HURT! All of these natural functions require the use of your abdominal muscles, specifically the use of contracting them. This wouldn't be a problem, except that someone just cut through them, and they are not feeling all that great at the moment!
If you are able to hold onto your stomach and put some pressure against it, this will ease the pain during coughing (try to clear your throat instead) and sneezing. As far as the laughing goes, tell your family to cool it on the humor until you start to heal a little. Your abs will thank you for it.
13 Having A Bowel Movement Has Never Been Harder
While this may be an awkward subject to discuss it must be mentioned. On about the second or third day, you will feel the need to use the bathroom. However, even with the stool softeners and gas pills that the hospital has been feeding you, you may find this task next to impossible to complete.
The pain pills aide in constipation, and having fasted for a number of hours during labor and after recovery is certainly not helping to get things moving. Once you do decide to sit down and give it a try, just know you may be creating your own scene from a comedy movie.
You may find yourself rocking from side to side begging for the relief associated with something as simple as using the bathroom. Best advice? Prune juice!
12 Can You Say Catheter?
You may know what a catheter is, but chances are you have not experienced one before this surgery. To clarify, a catheter is a small tube that is inserted into the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. Sounds comfortable, right?
Depending on whether yours was put in before or after your spinal, you may not even realize you have one. At some point you will think, "Hmm, I haven't had to use the bathroom in a while." Or someone will come into your room to empty the bag, and you will be introduced to the idea that you do, in fact, have a catheter in.
Once they decide to take it out, you will be aware of it. It is a strange sensation when it is removed, almost a light tugging or pulling in an area where it just doesn't seem appropriate to have this type of sensation.
11 Compression Sleeves
Once you start to regain feeling in your lower extremities, you may notice that every so often you are getting a leg massage. Nice, right? This is due to leg compression sleeves that have been slipped over your legs. They are massaging your legs to keep things moving to help you avoid having a blood clot. You are at a higher risk for a blood clot after major surgery due to swelling and lack of movement.
Some people find them to be wonderful, and comfortable and warm. They offer comfort during an otherwise uncomfortable time. Other people find them incredibly annoying. They always seem to kick into gear as soon as you have drifted off to sleep. Even others have reported that they make their legs even more uncomfortable, too much pressure.
10 Checks Every Four To Six Hours
The first 1 or 2 times that a nurse comes in and checks your vitals; blood pressure, temperature, discusses your pain on a scale of 1-10, you will feel thankful. It is a good thing to have someone checking on you and makes you feel confident in your recovery process. They will you everything looks great!
After that, the timing always sucks. What, it's 2am and you just dozed off after a 45 minute nursing marathon? Well, sorry to wake you, but I need to check your vitals! You find yourself wanting to scream, "My vitals would be better if I could get some sleep!" Surely, since the light has been turned on in order to check you out, your baby is now waking back up again.
Process shall now repeat.
9 When You Are Not Being Checked, Baby Is
You find yourself at peace. No one is checking your vitals, or incision, or bleeding, and the baby has settled in for some rest. You just might close your eyes yourself and get a little rest.
Nope, think again. Whenever you are not being checked, the baby is. Here comes the nurse with the belly scanner. They need to check the baby for jaundice. Oh, wait, they need to do the heel prick where they take the 5 drops of blood for testing. Which, by the way, babies love having their heels pricked with needles...umm, no!
Think you have heard it all? Someone will come by to give baby their first bath, their hearing test, and then the pediatrician will come to check on baby too.
The nurses are doing a great job in taking care of you, and all of this really is necessary. However, it makes it very hard to get any rest. You didn't think you were going to ever sleep again, did you?
8 You Still Bleed...A Lot
This one was really surprising for me. I guess I thought that since my baby was born via C-section, and there was no pushing or stitches down in my girly parts, that there would be no bleeding. This is NOT the case, but you may not be expecting it. Well guess what, there will be blood.
Someone will come by to check your bleeding until you are mobile enough to get to the bathroom yourself. (This is after that fun little catheter comes out - Ouch!) Once you are making it to the bathroom alone, you will find that going pee is about a 15 minute process. Bending and sitting are hard enough, now factor in the time to change your pad, get a new one out, squirt yourself with the water bottle they have provided. Wipe, and wipe, and wipe again.
As your uterus contracts back to its normal size you will have more bleeding. Also, additional bleeding and pain is brought on by nursing. The act of nursing releases oxytocin into your body which helps your uterus shrink back to its regular size.
Most women experience regular bleeding for the first 2 weeks. After that, it will be on and off, but can last up to 6 weeks.
7 Feet Will Swell Up Like An Elephant
Did you have swollen feet and ankles during the end of your pregnancy? Wearing compression socks may have offered you some relief. However, now that your baby has been born, your feet are probably twice the size they ever were. This is due to all of the excess fluids you are being given through the IV, and the fact that your body is in recovery mode.
In fact, it is possible that your feet may swell so much that the skin on your toes actually aches and feels like it is going to pop. Believe it or not, the best thing to do to combat this is walk around, and drink plenty of fluids. Doesn't seem possible, but it helps flush everything out of your system, and let your body get back to regulating its own fluid intake.
This swelling may last up to 2 weeks. Hope you brought a pair of sandals to wear home!
6 Sleep, No Thank You
We already covered that the nurses will be checking on you constantly for tons of different things, and when they are not checking you, they will be checking your baby. What happens to the rest of the time? Either your baby will be hungry, or need to be changed. You will be hungry, or need to get up, wheel your IV with you to the bathroom (remember this is at least a 15 minute process now each time), or you will be in pain and not able to get comfortable in your bed.
The second night is always much worse than the first, as baby is adjusting to being outside of your womb, and is looking for lots of nursing, and cuddles, reassurance and warmth. As a matter of fact, for many women, the second night, is the night of hormone overload.
From the realization that you are overwhelmed, healing, and may never sleep again, it can be very tough, and has the potential for some serious tears.
5 Once Drugs Wear Off, It Hurts
Let's face it, not only did your doctor just cut through your abdomen, but he or she also cut through your uterus. A newborn baby was then taken out, and everything, from uterus to belly was stitched or stapled back up. You probably have a nice little "pouch" where the part of your stomach that was large when you are pregnant is kind of hanging around waiting to shrink.
Once the drugs wear off, it hurts! It should hurt, but it doesn't always prepare you for the time you sleep through the alarm on your phone that reminds you to take your pain pill. Or, you are holding your baby and drop the pacifier. You are home alone, someone has to bend down and pick it up. You do it, and then about an hour later realize your side is sore and burning, and wonder why. You are trying to use muscles that have not finished healing all the way yet.
And forget about picking up your toddler. You may be able to physically do it but will experience soreness, pain, and an increase in bleeding as this results in the slowing down of your healing process.
4 Scar Tissue Feels Scary
The area around your incision may be healing nicely, but you still feel this large lump inside of your body. It almost feels like there is a large mass inside of you, and that your stitches were closed up around this. Touching it may be very sensitive, or not hurt at all. Either way, it feels kind of creepy. This is scar tissue.
For some people, scar tissue will fade, and you will experience that this lump will go away. For others, especially those having more than one C-section, you may notice that a small area always maintains a sense of a lump that is hard when you push on it. No, the doctor didn't sew up one of his tools inside of you. This is simply the build up of scar tissue inside of your body.
Of course, it never hurts to have your doctor check on it, especially if it is still painful several weeks after your operation.
3 Incision Is Not What Hurts
What about the area that is most painful. One would think that this pain would be localized near the incision area, right? Well, for most people, this is not the case. The most intense pain is actually 2-3 inches above your incision. This is because the location of the incision is for aesthetics only. They hid it out of the way, below your bikini and underwear line. However, the actual surgery takes place 2-3 inches above this, very close to your belly button.
As your uterus continues to shrink down in size (which can take up to 6 weeks) you will notice this pain is not as great. Some coconut oil rubbed daily over the incision scar itself can help it to heal and fade in color. If you are lucky, 6 months from now, your C-section scar will look like a small white line. However, you may always have some odd feeling leftover. For some, this is an area of numbness right under the belly button, where you never fully regain feeling.
2 You May Be Allergic To Bandage
Intense itching and burning are just some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction to the adhesive used to hold your bandage in place. Redness, soreness, and open sores that can bleed are some of the more extreme side effects. If your body has a reaction to the tape on your bandage you will find yourself extremely uncomfortable. Itching hard seems to be the short term road to relief, however this only increases the overall desire to itch, and can cause pain to any already highly sore area.
Delete repeated word of the best things you can use is a really great moisturizer or cream. Think Eucerin or Aquaphor. This will help keep the area protected. In the meantime, you may also apply some type of Benadryl cream or gel to help ward off the itching. I am not going to lie, it is pretty intense!
1 Another Child, Another C-Section
One of the least expected outcomes of a C-section is being told that if you want another child, you will most likely be scheduled for a repeat C-section. Once a woman has undergone a cesarean, her body is not as likely to take to vaginal birth as well. There are increased risks for mother and baby that could result in the rupture of the uterus, and increase in the potential for a blood transfusion and other complications that could arise. Most doctors will play it safe, and schedule a repeat C-section. Hey, at least this time you know what to expect!
For other women, they are able to find a doctor who is willing to allow them to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Some women have great success with this, while still others are allowed to labor, and end up in a repeat C-section anyways.
Sources: BabyCenter.com, Whattoexpect.com