7 lessons/ What to expect with a c-section
I have had 4 cesareans. The first one was an emergency c-section. The second one was a choice because my labor wasn’t progressing. The third and 4th were planned c-sections. It’s definitely a challenging time because you are a tired new mother and also a patient recovering from surgery. I can help share my lessons and advice to hopefully help prepare you.
First of all, 1 in 3 babies will be born by a C-section according to WebMD.
My mother never had a c-section so I didn’t think I would end up having one. For my first baby, I went to Lamaze class and they talked about it but I still didn’t think it would happen to me. I planned to give birth all natural with no pain medication. I wanted my baby to be healthy and unaffected by the medication. My mother gave birth naturally so I assumed I could do it too.
Be ready for the unexpected. A c-section is a possibility. It can happen to you.
A couple days before my due date I woke up and the bed was wet. I thought I had peed the bed so I was embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone. Then, the next day it happened again. Then, later that day I noticed brown stuff on my underwear. I thought I was pooping my pants, I was embarrassed and didn’t tell anyone. Then, I remembered during Lamaze class, the teacher discussed meconium (the baby’s poop). I had an idea that this might be coming from the baby. I also was feeling different, my anxiety was really high. So, I went to the hospital. I thought they would send me home and tell me it was nothing. But instead, they told me I had to stay. It was meconium and my water had been leaking for a couple days now, so the baby was at risk for infection.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. Trust your intuition.
They induced my labor. The nurse asked if I was having contractions. I told her no, but my back was killing me.. The nurse told me this was back labor. I didn’t want to take pain medication. I was in labor for 24 hours. I just meditated through it, praying to get through it. I focused on my breathing and shut everything else out. I was shaking in pain and exhausted. But my cervix was not dilating.
I told myself that I would not go through that pain again because I might end up with another c-section. Next time I would not feel bad to ask for pain medication. The labor is exhausting and then I have to take care of an infant right after. I need to be strong enough to take care of my new baby.
The doctor came in and said we have to do an emergency c-section because the baby’s vitals show she is in distress. I was so scared. I just prayed that God would take me and not my baby.
The anesthesiologist prepared me for the epidural. He told me I have to stay still while he put the needle in. But my body was uncontrollably shaking. The needle was really big and scary.
The epidural is not that bad. Yes, it’s a long needle and it will sting a little when the medication is administered. The birth is way harder than a needle.
They only allow one person in the surgery room.
I remember all the pressure of them tugging my belly and struggling to get the baby out. I saw my daughter come out and then I passed out. I woke up to the nurse telling me I need to feed the baby. I was highly medicated and felt like I was high or in a dream.
Then the medication wears off and the pain kicks in. You get pain in your back and shoulder from the surgery. Your uterus cramps when you nurse. It hurt to move but they made me get up and walk a few steps.
You have to start walking within 12 hours of the surgery to prevent blood clots and to improve your recovery. Your first steps will be with the nurse helping you up and helping to hold you as you try and walk a few steps. You will be very swollen with water retention. My feet hurt. It was like walking on balloons. You will bleed a lot afterwards. The nurse will come in and put pressure on your uterus to observe how much blood is still coming out. It hurts like heck. I remember after my fourth baby, I stood up and blood just gushed out all over the floor. I needed someone to help get the baby out of the bassinet to give her to me to nurse. Because it hurts to move and lift. I had really bad itching from the narcotics so I had to take Benadryl every day. I felt like crying because I was exhausted and in pain and hormonal and it was difficult to take care of my baby by myself because of the pain.
Don’t feel bad to ask for pain medication. Stay on top of it. Once the pain gets too bad it’s harder to control it.
The nurses may make you think you should decrease your pain medication. But you can’t take care of the baby as well if your in too much pain. The third and fourth surgery I made sure I was taking it around the clock and my recovery was much faster because I could move better. At one point I thought I was doing good and didn’t need the next dose of medication but then shortly after I started feeling bad pain and started crying. I never missed another dose after that. I would take the narcotics for about a week and then switch to regular Tylenol and ibuprofen.
Every birth after became easier and easier and the recovery was faster every time. It’s more difficult to recover from surgery after going through labor. So the planned c sections are much easier.
When the surgery is planned, the epidural isn’t as strong. So the first 2 births I fell asleep after the baby was born. But the next 2 births I was awake though the birth and still awake as they stitch me back up and right afterwards you need to start nursing the baby.
On the third birth, I was feeling ready for the surgery and in good spirits. After the anesthesiologist gave me the epidural I started shaking and crying and I felt like I was having an anxiety attack. I was told that this was a normal reaction to the epidural. During the surgery, I felt nauseated. So the anesthesiologist gave me something to increase my blood pressure
Anxiety, shaking, and nausea is a normal side effect of the epidural. Be mentally prepared to go through the side effects.
I felt pressure when they were cutting me, it wasn’t painful, it was uncomfortable. Then they took my baby out, they let me see her and then took her to another room and my husband left with her. I was left alone and feeling so much anxiety. I told the anesthesiologist that I was in pain but he said this was normal and didn’t want to give me anything more so my blood pressure wouldn’t go down to low because that would make my nausea increase. It was painful and long. I cried through it.
Do not let your husband leave your side during surgery, so he could be your advocate. It’s a big surgery. You will need the support of your loved ones.
On the fourth birth, my husband stayed with me after my baby was born. And this time they kept the baby in the surgery room. This was much better. When they started stitching me back up, I started crying. My husband asked me if I was okay but I couldn’t talk. So he told the anesthesiologist that I was in pain and to give me medication. The doctor listened to my husband. And the pain got better and I was okay after that. It didn’t hurt anymore.
My recovery was pretty fast. I gave birth in the morning and started walking that night. I stayed at the hospital as long as I could so I could just focus on my new baby. I was picking her up by myself and walking to the bathroom and showering by myself. My husband had to go home to take care of our toddler while I was at the hospital. When I got home I felt more pain at first but then I rested and felt better.
My advice from my experiences:
- have a support system to help you take care of the baby and cook for you.
- Have someone to stay with you at the hospital.
- Know that you will be emotional.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well and drink plenty of fluids. Sleep whenever you get a chance.
- Take advantage of the nurses helping you to nurse.
- Don’t feel bad if you need the nurse to take the baby so you can rest.
- Walk around as soon as possible and walk often. This will make your recovery faster.
- Bring shower products, a hair brush, toothbrush and toothpaste. I found a nightgown for nursing on amazon. That worked really well instead of dealing with the ties on the hospital gown
- Stay as long as you can. Take advantage of the extra help from the nurses.
- Have someone bring you outside food when you can start eating solids.
- Expect lots of swelling from water retention.
A cesarean can happen because you or the baby is in danger during labor. Sometimes a cesarean is planned because this is the safest decision for you and the baby. It’s scary knowing you will have to go through such a big surgery before becoming a mom to a newborn. I have learned through each pregnancy and c-section of what will help ease my situation. The most painful part lasts less than a week. You will need extra support in the beginning. It will get easier fast and you are strong enough to get through this. You are a warrior mom.
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