I want to start out by saying, I've had 3 C-sections. The first was due to a failure to progress at 4 cm after 17 hours in labor, but my doctor was a little C-section happy. The second, I scheduled a C-section because I thought that was my only option. The third, I found a doctor who would let me try for a Vaginal Birth After 2 C Sections (VBA2C), but due to some crazy stuff, I ended up with a C-section again. Not due to failure to progress, I hadn't even started labor. Anyway... I've had a number of different experiences, I'm an RN and have learned some things from nursing school and done some crazy research on my own about the whole deal, sooo. These are some things I've learned, some the hard way. Let me just add a disclaimer: These statements are generalized and not meant to substitute any advice received from their health care provider.
1. Having a C-section is not something most people plan for when having their first child, unless they know beforehand it is medically necessary.
Although it is not necessarily ideal, sometimes it does make the most sense for the situation and it is usually a safe option. My first C-section was actually great after 17 hours of labor, on the epidural, and not progressing. Before I had my first son, I took a hypnobabies course and tried to educate and prepare myself for childbirth. This was helpful even though I did end up with a C-section.
2. C-sections are safe.
Despite it being a major surgery, it is very well controlled. There is an anesthesiologist there making sure that you are comfortable and stable during the procedure. You are in good hands. Your significant other will be able to be in the room with you. You might want to designate someone to help take pictures and video while it is being done. Also, your hubby will still be able to cut the cord if desired.
3. Bonding with your baby is getting easier and easier with C-section births.
Some hospitals offer what is called a "gentle C-section" or "family centered" C-section. This means that the mom can be more involved with the birth process. Some moms can help pull the baby out, some hospitals will let the mom do skin to skin with the baby immediately after birth providing no complications arise. What I was able to do was watch the doctors pull my son out through a mirror the anesthesiologist held up just so, so that I couldn't see myself cut open, but I could see them pulling my son out. Seeing his crying face through that mirror was easily the best moment of my life up until that point. I was able to bond with him instantly. Some of my friends who have had C-sections have felt robbed of immediate bonding when they had a C-section. I believe that the anesthesiologist talking me into using the mirror was the greatest gift he gave me (besides lots and lots of pain meds so I wouldn't feel the surgery) I have requested a mirror with every subsequent birth, and they have all allowed me that opportunity to see my baby right away.
After the C-section:
4. After the C-section, you will be on some pain medication.
You will want to keep up on this medication, taking it at the prescribed intervals so that your pain can stay under control. Did you know that being in pain can delay your healing? Pain causes stress and higher oxygen needs in the body, which makes the body have to work harder to deal with the pain, and the resources allocated to helping you heal will be lessened when you are in major pain. The pain medication does not effect your baby if you will be breastfeeding. Your milk will come in and it may have traces of the pain medication in it, but the side effect would just be causing your baby to be slightly drowsy, and let's face it, newborns sleep most the day anyway. They will still wake up to eat when they are hungry.
5. These pain meds cause constipation.
It is important that you walk everyday, drink water/fluids, and also take a stool softener, even after you've had your first bowel movement since the surgery. Keep taking it as long as you are taking your pain medication.
6. Walking is very important after the surgery.
With any kind of abdominal surgery, you will want to start walking as soon as possible. The nurses will probably want you to get up and walk either that same day at night or the next day. Walking is important to getting your bowels moving again. This is something that you want to have happening, trust me.
7. Insurance providers usually allow 3-4 days in the hospital for recovery.
Take this whole time if you can. This extra time in the hospital will give you time to ask the nurses questions, have help moving around (which will be difficult the first day or two) and it will help get you fed and rested (both of which are incredibly important when healing).
8. Don't overdo the activity.
Those with C sections need to be a little more careful when taking part in activities. This can be hard if you have smaller children at home. If you start lifting things that you aren't supposed to, or start exercising beyond walking, you may tear some tissues that were in the process of healing. This kind of behavior will actually set your healing back. It just isn't worth it!
(When they stitch you back up, they will stitch several layers back together. It is not just your visible scar, there are layers underneath that are in the process of healing. Respect the process.)
9. Be aware that because you will be on pain meds, you will not be able to drive since you will be fairly drowsy.
Keep that in mind when scheduling activities. Try and get coverage for times that you need to drive to have someone help you out.
10. As long as the scar is transverse (goes from side to side instead of up and down), you can have as many C-sections as you want.
If you end up with a C-section for your first child, you can still try for a vaginal birth with subsequent pregnancies, so you won't necessarily always have to have C-sections. There are doctors that will let you try for VBACs after one and even two C-sections.
11. There are C-section support groups, message boards, and communities on Facebook.
You can google a group in your area for extra support.
12. After a C-section, you will be sore, you will be limited, and you will wonder if you will ever feel like yourself again.
YOU WILL feel like yourself again. It may take a few weeks, but slowly you will get all of your activity levels back to normal. Be patient with yourself and don't let yourself become too discouraged during your healing. You will get there!!
Remember, having a C-section does not mean you are a failure. It can be hard starting out your journey in motherhood with that idea. We are lucky enough to live in an era that C-sections can be done when needed for the safety of the mother and baby. If you find yourself in the position where a C-section is needed, it's okay to feel a little disappointed, but don't let it linger. Make peace with your personal birth story and know that you are not any less of a champion than a mom who gives birth in her bathtub (which is also amazing) and your baby will love you just the same! Also, with a C-section, Dad gets to enjoy early bonding as he is one of the people to hold the baby first. I will never forget how tender it was to see my husband holding our newly born son, staring into his face in awe. It is a special time, try your best to look past the surgery and enjoy your fresh new delivery!!Written by Callie Lippard