I recently read that the hardest part about a woman going into labor is that she doesn't have much control. She can control how she acts and what she eats during pregnancy, but when it comes down to the actual delivery, all she can do is assist her little one to safety. Then again, even if she was hoping for a natural delivery, emergency C-sections happen all the time. In fact, they're quite common.
The sad truth about C-sections is that many ignorant folks think having a C-section is a cop-out; it's the easy way through labor. On the contrary, enduring a C-section is actually quite intensive and sometimes requires more care post-delivery than a natural birth.
Those who are lucky have planned C-sections, which gives them and their doctor a chance to coordinate and prepare for what's to come; but for those who need emergency C-sections, they don't know what to expect or what to prepare for. Thankfully, this handy dandy list is perfect for moms who are planning a C-sections and those who are caught off guard and have a few minutes to prep. From the shakes to bright lights, these are 20 things most doctors keep on the DL from mamas when it comes to a C-section.
20 Your Body May Hurt More Than With A Natural Birth
Non-parents seem to have the notion that a C-section is a quick and painless procedure. All a doctor needs to do is make a small incision and pull the baby out without complicating anything else further. In the real world though, it's major surgery. A woman's abdomen is cut open big enough to fit the baby through. Doctors then need to stitch mom back up so that an infection doesn't begin and hope for minimal scarring. Once the baby is cleaned and mom is sewn back together, mom is gonna have to stay in the hospital for up to three to four days afterward. And it's not that easy lifting your baby, feeding, or going to the bathroom when you're that vulnerable.
19 Grab Those Shades
Here's something that most moms forget about come delivery time: the operating room is quite bright. As one mom puts it hilariously on Jacksonville Mom, "I had never had prior surgery, so this was the first time I had stepped into an OR. It’s no Grey’s Anatomy, people. No dimmed incandescent light. Just BRIGHT cold fluorescent lighting. The room is cold, and it can be a bit dark if you don’t know what to expect." And she's right! When I think of operating rooms, I think of a cozy, dimly lit room. I don't think of every light on to its fullest potential, shining into a delicate mom's eyes.
18 Nurses Will Force You To Walk Post Surgery
There's nothing harder for a mom than to try and walk after having a C-section. There's no other way to put it than it's painful. A mom over at Very Anxious Mommy explained, "As you try to get up and walk, you are bent over like a hunch back holding on to your stomach. Even though you are experiencing this excruciating pain, the nurses will have you taking walks several times a day." It's a nurse's job to make sure mama is healing nicely and is strong enough to handle life outside of the hospital, so these little walks are hard but are for mom's benefit.
17 The Doctor Won't Talk To You Much
As most moms are aware of, when a mama needs a C-section, the doctors hang up a drape so that she can't see what they're doing. Since a mom needs to be awake during this operation, her sitting up and looking at the doctor cut open her belly could lead to unintentional fainting. The drape being hung is great for everyone involved, however, it has the tendency to leave mom out... As the mom from Jacksonville Mom said, "The doctors talked to each other and not to me. If it weren’t for my anesthesiologist, I wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on."
16 Do I Have To Pee?
When mom has a C-section, a doctor will insert a catheter after the pain meds are given. As one mom notes, you don't even notice this tube sticking out of you, and it's actually kind of cool not having to get up to go to the bathroom every half-hour. As stated on Jacksonville Mom, "They will take the catheter out 6-12 hours after surgery. That is when it really feels weird. It’s like you have to pee, but your body has forgotten how." The best advice is to sit on the toilet, take your time, and let your body try to do it the old fashioned way.
15 Doctors Can't Promise You It Won't Happen
If a doctor promises you that a C-section is out of the question and you'll 100% have a natural birth, don't believe them. While they may be right to a certain degree, anything can happen in that delivery room. Your baby may be in the perfect position to give birth naturally, but if something goes wrong in the womb, and their tiny heart rate goes down, a doctor has no choice but to cut mom open and take the baby out safely. No matter how much you may not want the scar or the surgery, a safe and healthy baby is all that matters in that point and time. So make sure you have a smart and realistic doctor who understands that safety is above all else.
14 You WILL Have Anesthesia
I know for me personally, I'm one of those hippy women who would prefer having a natural birth with no pain beds while on the delivery table. It's a personal preference, but I know there are thousands of women who said the same thing and then opted for an epidural once the pain got too intense. To each their own! However, if a woman needs a C-section, there is no choice — she's going to have anesthesia. As Verywell Family explains there are two types of anesthesia a woman can endure; "regional anesthesia, which makes an area of your body numb, like a spinal block, combined spinal-epidural anesthesia (CSE) or epidural anesthesia; and general anesthesia, where you go to "sleep" for the surgery."
13 Grab The Granny Panties
Contrary to popular belief, just because you have a C-section doesn't mean you won't have anything to drain out of your nether regions. Your body still has things to get rid of now that the baby is out of that belly.
Thanks to a mom over at Very Anxious Mommy, she reminds me us that C-section mamas shouldn't throw away their granny panties just yet! Not only will you need them for comfort, but you'll want them so as not to mess up your pre-pregnancy undies. "They will provide you with mesh underwear in the hospital that is so comfortable after having a C-section. They come up to your belly button and allow airflow to your incision.
12 Hold Your Nose!
One of the first things my best friend told me after she had her baby girl is that she was unprepared for all the smells. Granted, she didn't have a C-section herself, but the smells from her body and the baby caught her off guard. The same smells during a C-section can also be shared. As a mom from Jacksonville Mom said, "I remember my first C-section, I was wondering what that burning smell was. Almost like burnt popcorn. Turns out the smell was me and caused by the cauterizing tool they use to minimize [gushing] during surgery. Again, kinda gross, but now you know."
11 Grab A Pillow
Have you ever had the flu where anytime you coughed or threw-up, your belly hurt? Almost like it's in overdrive; your body is doing so much to heal itself that it's going to feel aches and pains in the process. The same pain is going to be shared after a mom undergoes a C-section. A Very Anxious Mommy explained, "After having a C-section, it hurts when you laugh, sneeze, cough, and even when you breathe sometimes. Hugging a pillow tight to your stomach will help ease the pain whenever you get an unexpected sneeze." Whether it's the hospital's pillow or a cute pillow you grabbed from home — bring one and latch on.
10 You Have Some Great Meds But You Still Feel Things
As mentioned, when a woman undergoes a C-section, she's going to be under anesthesia to help with the pain. After all, the doctor is cutting a serious incision in her belly to get a baby out of there. But just because a woman is numb from the neck down doesn't mean she can't feel anything. "There is A LOT of pressure, tugging, and pulling. It doesn’t hurt, but you can feel those sensations," a mom told Jacksonville Mom. "My first C-section I felt like someone was jumping on my chest and it freaked me out. Turns out that is normal."
9 You're Not Gonna Wanna Go... But You Should Try
The idea of going number two (and even just number one) is an intimidating moment after a woman gives birth. Whether it's naturally or via C-section, the act of going to the restroom is kind of taxing on the body. Knowing that going to the restroom is going to be quite an experience, coming prepared is highly recommended. One mom from Very Anxious Mommy said, "Get Colace stool softener capsules. This will be your best friend. You will be so thankful for their help when you need to go to the bathroom." She continued saying, "Your first bowel movement will not be pleasant by any means. Be sure to take your time."
8 12 Pounds And Up
In case you couldn't tell by now, when you have a C-section it's pretty difficult to lift things. In fact, doctors don't even want the new mom to lift anything over 12 pounds, which is where a loved one is gonna have to help out more with the baby. As a mom over at Anxious Mommy noted, "You will also be advised NOT to lift anything heavier than your baby. So roughly everything from about 12 pounds up is off limits. The reason behind this is you can damage or even rip open your incision if you are lifting heavy objects or children." If there's anything that feels off during your recovery, take a load off and sit back down!
7 There's Nothing Like A Uterus Massage
Have you ever heard of a uterus massage? Because I sure haven't. As one mom found out though, a uterus massage is something the nurse may do to help the laboring mom contract. In her own words, "It isn’t really massaging as much as pressing near your incision freaking hard. It hurts, and I wasn’t prepared for that, but it helps contract your uterus back to its normal size and lets them make sure it is shrinking as it should." While a uterus massage sounds nicer than the actual action, a nurse is clearly bound to do it for a reason. Be vocal if the pain is too much.
6 The Shakes
One thing that new moms aren't warned enough is that they're going to shake post delivery. Both C-sections and natural births alike, it's a reaction to what your body has just gone through and the effects to the anesthesia. "During C-sections, moms are kept awake, and the effects of the anesthetic and [liquid] loss often produce vigorous shaking and an overall feeling of being cold (similar to fever chills)," a mom over at Blue Bird Kisses explained. "The shaking can start during the surgery and continue well after into the recovery period. This is normal, but it was not an effect that I was prepared for."
5 Scars That Don't Heal
One thing that intimidates me about C-sections is the scarring. Granted, doctors these days are very good at their job and know how to make a gentle incision with minimal scarring. However, as some moms noted, sometimes those scars don't heal as well as they had hoped. "This is true for C-sections as well as natural births, and can last up to several weeks. C-section moms will [leak] more than those who delivered naturally due to the trauma sustained during the surgery," one mom said. So, even if mama is feeling strong, be sure to wear a bandage on that wound until it has healed nicely without complications.
4 Your Scar May Change Its Appearance
Depending on the doctor, the hospital, and the mom's recovery, C-section scars can come in all shapes and sizes. As one mom explained, "Initially when the bandages on the C-section cut came off, it can appear as though there is no scar at all! However, over time, this scar will transform, darken, and become more pronounced." This mother, in particular, was excited to see a tiny, light scar at first, but over time, it changed dramatically."I thought I had hit the C-section scar jackpot! However, after a few weeks, the scar began to appear, so it turns out that there was no jackpot to be won in this case."
3 You're Going To Be Strapped Down
As strange as it may sound, some mamas are strapped down during their C-section. This, of course, is done for a reason. Since C-sections are considered "major surgery" and the fact that the woman is awake, strapping the mom down is just a way to have control over the procedure. Her comfortability is still number one, though. If a woman is prepared for a C-section and took a few classes on the procedure, she may be prepared for it. But if she needs an emergency C-section, the doctors strapping her down may seem more frightening than calming. Just remind yourself that it's for you and your baby's safety.
2 Be Nice To Yourself
One of the most common things we hear from women who just had a baby is "I can't wait to get back to the gym." Now that the baby is out of your belly, you can finally get back to your normal workout regimen (whatever it is). However, whether it's a C-section or natural birth, a woman's body and mind need time to heal — especially for those who had a C-section. It's important to remember what you just went through and to give yourself time. Don't read any articles or listen to anyone who thinks you should jump right back into that next 8am spin class. Take it easy, listen to your body, and take care of that precious baby in the meantime.
1 Prepare Your Partner!
If your partner is a male, there's a large chance that he has no idea what birth (and the aftercare) entails. I'm not throwing shade by any means, but women tend to be more prepared since their bodies are the ones going through the changes. One of the things women who need a C-section need to do is warn their partner. As one mom at Jacksonville Mom said, "Since you have just had major abdominal surgery, you can’t do much. So what does that mean? Your husband (or someone else) has to do A LOT those first few days. He will be the one changing pretty much all those diapers until you are up and moving." Your partner will need to get up and hand you the baby for feedings (if breastfeeding) and then place the baby back when they're done. Most new parents are stunned by the amount of work being a parent takes, and it's even more so with a C-section.