As any expectant mother will learn, things do not often go as planned. Birth plans are written, registries are compiled, Pinterest boards are created, nurseries are prepared among the many other steps expectant parents take while preparing the nest for a new arrival. Things don’t always go as planned though and sometimes there are many reasons mothers today are electing to have C-Sections over natural births. Maybe their first child was born via C-Section so they don’t have any other choice, or maybe there’s an emergency during delivery that causes the Doctor to perform a C-Section. Or, maybe even Mom and Dad choose to go that route from the start.
“It's important to note that, in most cases, doctors will opt for a [natural] delivery over a C-section. The reason is that a [natural] delivery is almost always considered to be safer for the mother and baby unless [serious] health conditions warrant otherwise... Often, however, C-sections are performed in emergency circumstances because conditions indicate that the mother or baby is at risk for a potential problem. If the mother's or baby's health is at risk, then a C-section might become the immediate alternative for saving lives,” shares FamilyEducation.com
No matter the reason, there are things that happen differently in a C-Section, versus a natural birth. Keep reading for 20 things that will happen in a C-Section that don’t happen if the mother gives birth naturally.
20 A Lot Of People Will Witness The Birth
As opposed to a natural birth, C-Section moms require a whole team of people in the operating room during delivery. SurgerySquad.com explains that is it likely the following people will be required in the room for a C-Section; obstetrician, anesthesiologist, perioperative nurse, surgical technicians, unit secretary, and surgical aides.
Of course, each hospital varies in protocol and procedures, but you could expect anywhere from 10-15 people in the room with you.
One supportive birth partner is typically allowed into the room while a mom has a C-Section performed. Any other guests will have to wait until both mom and baby are out of surgery and stable before meeting the new addition.
19 You Have To Use Pain Medicine Before And After The Birth
With a natural birth, you have the option of using pain medication or not. However, with a C-Section you are required to take pain medication and anesthesia, as you are undergoing major surgery.
You will have to have an epidural in order for the anesthesiologist to administer the medicine to ensure you do not feel anything during surgery.
Additionally, C-Section mama’s find it necessary to take pain medication to manage pain post operation. “ Most women need pain medication after the birth. Controlling pain makes it easier to feed and take care of your baby. Pain can stop you from wanting to walk or take deep breaths which can make it easier for you to get blood clots or chest infections (pneumonia),” shares MomBaby.org.
18 You Will Have To Have Your red stuff Drawn
“Your health care provider might also recommend certain blood tests before your C-section. These tests will provide information about your blood type and your level of hemoglobin, the main component of red blood cells. These details will be helpful to your health care team in the unlikely event that you need a blood transfusion during the C-section,” shares MayoClinic.org.
So don’t be alarmed if your doctor suggests taking it, just in case a C-Section is necessary.
And of course, don’t be surprised if you go in for a planned C-Section, and you have to have blood work done.
17 And You Will Have To Have A Catheter
Another not so fun aspect of a C-Section is having to use a catheter. “A flexible tube, called a Foley catheter, will be inserted into your bladder to drain urine and keep your bladder as empty as possible during the surgery,” explains WomensHealthMag.com.
Luckily you won’t really even notice the catheter going in thanks to the epidural, but when it comes out you will likely notice.
Then again, you will have your sweet baby in your arms, so you might be too in awe to notice. Either way, in the scheme of things, the catheter is not too big of a deal, but it is something that mothers who give birth naturally don’t have to go through.
16 You Will Have To Be Hooked Up To An IV
“An intravenous needle will be inserted into a vein in your hand or arm to allow for the administering of fluids and medications during your surgery,” shares WebMD.com. This isn’t that big of a deal, but if you don’t like needles, it’s best to know of the possibility ahead of time.
Of all the things going on on the day you give birth, the IV will likely be the last thing on your mind, so don’t stress the possibility of this happening too much.
Instead, just think about that sweet bundle of joy who you will be meeting soon!
15 You Have To Wear An Oxygen Mask
Natural birth moms typically don’t get to experience the glamorous oxygen mask C-Section moms are required to wear. There’s actually not much information readily available on why the oxygen is necessary, and a quick Google search will lead you to several studies and debates on the topic. Bottom line, it’s best to discuss this with your Doctor. On that note, you should feel free to ask your Doctor questions about any of the things they do during your labor and delivery, C-Section or not! It is your right to be informed and ask questions about anything you are unsure if. This will surely put your mind at ease!
14 A Sheet Is Draped Up Blocking Your View From The Birth
Very different from a natural birth, you will not actually get to see the birth of your baby if you have a C-Section. You will have a sheet draped from your waist down so they can spare you from seeing all that goes on during your C-Section.
Of course, your birth partner gets to peek over the sheet (if they dare) to see the first glimpse of the new little one.
Some places actually offer clear drapes if you really want to see the action. As gentle C-Sections become more accepted and widespread, you can still look forward to immediate skin-to-skin time with your little one assuming you are both doing well.
13 You Deliver The Baby In An Operating Room
Say goodbye to the comfort of that nice Labor and Delivery suite you toured during your pregnancy. If you are having a C-Section you will have to head to the OR. But luckily, you will soon have your own little McDreamy in your arms!
A sterile environment is necessary for a surgery such as a C-Section.
But you can rest assured you and your little one will soon be returned to that, hopefully, cozy little suite you were hoping for! Be sure and drink a ton of water after surgery, you will need to rehydrate up! “After a Caesarean section, or C-section, water is crucial to assist with healing, enhance the production of milk during breastfeeding and prevent constipation,” shares Livestrong.com.
12 And Give Birth Through A Surgical Opening
The one obvious difference of a natural birth and a C-Section is where the baby comes out of. During a C-Section, the Doctor will make an incision a few inches above the pubic bone, and that is where they eventually pull the baby from, but I will spare you the details of that! “After the uterine incision is made, the baby is gently pulled out. The doctor suctions the baby's mouth and nose, then clamps and cuts the umbilical cord. As with a [natural] birth, you should be able to see your baby right away. Then, the little one is handed over to the nurse or doctor who will be taking care of your newborn for a few minutes (or longer, if there are concerns,” shares KidsHealth.org.
11 Breastfeeding Might Be A Little More Difficult
“If you have a cesarean section, it may take longer for your milk to come in compared to if you have a [natural] delivery. You'll want to put the baby to breast as soon as possible and breastfeed very often to stimulate milk production. If you and your child are separated after delivery, you will not have the chance to begin breastfeeding right away. Ask to use a breast pump if you will be separated for more than 12 hours so you can start to stimulate your breasts to produce milk. Pump every two to three hours until you can put the baby to your breast,” shares VeryWellFamily.com. Be sure and ask for a lactation consultant to be present to help you initiate breastfeeding. Having the same consultant throughout your stay at the hospital can really make a difference as well, so consider asking your hospital if this is possible.
10 You'll Have Trouble Finding Comfortable Feeding Positions
As if breastfeeding isn’t hard enough on its own, if you have just had a C-Section, it only gets more complicated. Your incision site will make you have to get creative in how you position your little one in order to not irritate your incision site. “You will be able to start breast-feeding as soon as you feel up to it. Ask your nurse or a lactation consultant to teach you how to position yourself and support your baby so that you're comfortable. Your health care team will select medications for your post-surgical pain with breast-feeding in mind,” shares MayoClinic.org.
9 You'll Be Puffy Post-Delivery Thanks To Water Retention
Don’t worry, you probably didn’t gain any weight in your face, hands, feet, etc..it’s likely just that lovely post delivery water retention. This is more likely to happen to mothers who deliver through C-Section thanks to the IV fluids. There are a few things you can do to help the swelling including rest, good nutrition and lots of water. BeingTheParent.com also recommends, “Elevating the swollen hands and legs above the level of your heart for some time will help to reduce the swelling and the discomfort caused due to edema. You can use a stool or pillows to elevate the area that is affected by edema. Keep the hands and legs in elevated posture for 30 minutes three or four times a day.”
8 You Will Experience Gas Pain
“Although it's not often talked about, gas pain is one of the most common side effects of a C-section. It makes sense — after an invasive procedure like that, excess air and gas can get trapped in your stomach, making it difficult to deal with in the days following your procedure,” writes Romper.com. Luckily, hydration can help with this too! Some things that might help include; drinking tons of water, moving around frequently, changing positions often and talk to your Doctor about trying peppermint tea to help alleviate the gas pains. Some women swear by the peppermint tea trick.
7 You Will Have To Wear Compression Socks Post-Delivery
When you roll out of surgery you might notice that a nurse has slipped compression stockings onto your feet. This is to prevent blood clots and help circulation, as you won’t be able to get up and move around for a while. You may find that these stockings also help with soreness and swelling. You can buy some of your own so you can wear them once you get home too. You can find some really cute ones, so you can have a little something to look forward too! Hop on Amazon Prime and treat yourself to a few pairs. You will be glad you have them once you get home!
6 You Will Also Be Given An Abdominal Binder
Your legs aren’t the only thing they will be wrapping up tight, tight, tight, You will also have to wear an abdominal binder. “An abdominal binder is like an elastic belt that you fasten around your stomach, and it provides support for your abdominal muscles while also helping to keep stitches or bandages in place and promoting healing at the incision site. An abdominal binder can help improve circulation to the surgery site, so that the skin around the incision gets enough oxygen to heal,” shares MyPostPartumWellness.com. Your hospital will provide you with one, but this is another thing you can buy yourself. At the very least, you will want to not pack away that maternity belly band just yet! I loved mine for C-Section recovery!
5 Your Recovery Time Will Be Longer
No doubt about it, the recovery from a C-Section is much more lengthy than that of a natural birth. “The recovery period after delivering is also longer because a woman may have more pain and discomfort in her abdomen as the skin and nerves surrounding her surgical scar need time to heal, often at least two months,” shares LiveScience.com. “Going through labor and having a [natural] delivery is a long process that can be physically gruelling and is hard work for the mother. But one of the benefits of having a [natural] birth is that it has a shorter hospital stay and recovery time compared with a C-section,” adds LiveScience.com.
4 You'll Have To Take It Easy For Six Weeks
You read that correctly, six weeks of laying low. This may sounds like fun and games and lots of binge watching Netflix, and it probably will be, but you will likely start to go a little stir crazy. Most Doctors will advise no heavy-lifting, driving or strenuous activity for six weeks. Moving around a bit will help you feel better, though. “Frequent and early walking may help ease some post-cesarean pains and discomfort. It also can help prevent blood clots and keep your bowels moving. But don't push yourself — take it easy and have someone help you get around, especially up and down stairs. Let friends, family, and neighbours lend a helping hand with meals and housework for a while, especially if you have other children,” suggests KidsHealth.org
3 Your Uterus Massages Will Be Even More Painful
Thanks to that incision site, your uterus massages are going to hurt even more. Yay, right?! “Fundal massage, also called uterine massage, is a technique used to reduce bleeding and cramping of the uterus after childbirth or after an abortion. As the uterus returns to its non-pregnant size, its muscles contract strongly, which can cause pain. Fundal massage can be performed with one hand over the pubic bone, firmly massaging the top of the uterus, or with the addition of one hand [downstairs] compressing the two uterine arteries. Routine use of fundal massage can prevent postpartum or post-abortion hemorrhage and can reduce pain,” shares Wikipedia.com. Thanks to your incision site and very tender tummy, your fundal massages will be very, very uncomfortable.
2 You Won’t Be Able To Take A Bath For Awhile
Any mother who has just given birth is likely dreaming of a nice and cozy bubble bath, and natural birth moms can go ahead and dive in soon after birth. But if you have a had a C-Section, you will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer. This was devastating news to me as I love a good bubble bath! “DO NOT soak in a bathtub or hot tub, or go swimming, until your provider tells you it is OK. In most cases, this is not until 3 weeks after surgery,” shares MedlinePlus.gov on post C-Section care advice. There are plenty of other ways to relax though, so ask your partner for a nice foot and/ors shoulder rub. You undoubtedly deserve it!
1 You May Feel Some Mommy Guilt (Even Though You Totally Shouldn’t!)
Whether you elect to have a C-Section or it was medically necessary, there is such a thing as C-Section guilt, and that guilt can be heavy. “Quit pretending you’re okay, and ask for help—and yes, it might be from a professional. “There’s this notion that if your baby is healthy you shouldn’t be upset, so new mothers feel pressure to be happy, even when they are still feeling scared and traumatized,” says Driscoll. “Don’t be afraid so share your feelings with those who are close to you.” She adds that if you’re the type of person who can’t stand to be a burden, seek out an unbiased pro, such as a therapist or postpartum doula, who may be able to better understand what you’re going through,” shares TheBump.com.
References: Family Education, Surgery Squad, MomBaby.org, The Bump, Medline Plus, Mayo Clinic, Very Well Family, Wikipedia, Women's Health Magazine, WebMD, Live Strong, Kids Health, Being The Parent, Romper, Live Science, My Post Partum Wellness