I’ve had two scheduled c-sections, my sister had two emergency c-section, and my mom had two scheduled c-sections (all due to breech babies…my sisters first baby decided to flip at 10cm dilated making it an emergency and her second was a premie). So basically, between the three of us, we know a lot about c-sections. We’ve compiled our knowledge to share everything you need to know about preparing for, having, and recovering from a c-section, whether it be emergency or scheduled.
-If an emergency, stay calm and try to enjoy that you’re going to meet your baby: Both my c-sections were scheduled, so I realize staying calm and enjoying the moment in an emergency situation is probably easier said than done, but try not to let the fact that labor didn’t go as planned keep you from enjoying the moment you meet your baby.
-Focus on the positive: A c-section isn’t the ideal birth plan for anyone, but sometimes it’s the safest for mom and baby. Instead of looking at my c-sections in a negative light, I choose to be grateful that modern medicine allows me to have a c-section and deliver my baby safely. Having a healthy baby (and mom) is the most important thing no matter your birth story.
-You go in by yourself at first: I didn’t realize this until I was being prepped for surgery for my first c-section. Cody had to stay behind while I was walked into the surgery room and given the spinal. After I was all numb, the nurses brought him in to me.
-Only one person is allowed in the operating room: You’ll want to choose your one support person to be in the operating room with you. As much as I wished my mom and sister could have been there too, I obviously chose my husband to be with me.
-You get a catheter: It makes since that you’d need one but this is another thing nobody warned me of. You get it taken out a few hours after giving birth, so at least you don’t have it in for too long. But if you don’t pee, it will get put back in, so try really hard to pee when you get it taken out. With Hazel, I easily peed, but with Iris, it was a struggle. I felt like I had to pee, but I just couldn’t. It took me about 10 minutes of sitting on the toilet before I actually peed.
-Ask to see your baby come out: Some hospitals will allow you to use a mirror to see and some offer a clear drape so you can watch the entire birth. I didn’t know to ask for anything with my first c-section, but for my second, I requested the clear drape.
-Bring your camera and ask nurses to take your picture: Cody forgot to bring in our camera and the nurses ran back and got it for him. The nurses are seriously amazing! They will gladly take pictures for you because they know how important it is to parents to capture those first moments with their baby.
-Ask for skin to skin asap and for as long as possible: Skin to skin is beneficial to both mom and baby, and just because you have a c-section, doesn’t mean you can’t still have that right away. After Hazel was born, the nurses measured her and did the apgar test. Cody got to be next to her the entire time and I could see them the entire time. Then, they immediately placed her on my chest for skin to skin and for her to nurse.
-Sewing you up takes a long time: It seriously feels like forever! I thought it’d take longer to get the baby out, but that’s the speedy part. Sewing you up requires layers of sewing/stitching/stapling/whatever method they use. You’ll be sewed up on the inside and the outside as well.
-You might be separated from your baby for a short period of time: Depending on the hospital, your baby might go into recovery before you, so there will be a few minutes that you’re separated. But Daddy gets to go with the baby. Meanwhile, they’ll lift you from the operating table to a hospital bed and wheel you to recovery. From then on, the only other time I was separated from Hazel was when she had to do the hearing test because I couldn’t walk that far yet. Cody (aka Daddy) went with her to the hearing test instead.
-You’re going to be swollen/bloated: I didn’t realize how swollen the medicine and fluids made me until I looked back at pictures and my five chins. Haha!
-Take your pain medicine: You’ll want to stay ahead of the pain so don’t forget to take your medicine.
-Take your stool softener: It’s normal not to have a bowel movement until 4-5 days after surgery, but when you do go, you’ll be happy you took stool softeners.
-Let people help: This goes for both at the hospital and when you get home. You just had major surgery, you’re also taking care of a newborn, and your hormones are going crazy…take all the help you can get!
-Drink a lot of water: Drinking water will not only keep you hydrated and help with your milk supply, but it will also help push fluids through your body. After my c-section, I looked swollen/bloated from all the medicine and fluids the doctors gave me. Drinking water helped that to go away quickly.
-Walk as soon as possible: Get up and walk as soon as the nurses tell you it’s ok (usually it’s the same day you gave birth). The sooner you walk, the easier your recovery will be.
-You might be gassy: Your stomach might feel very uncomfortable for a few days/a week from the surgery. Drinking water and walking will really help to release the gas. If it gets really bad, talk to your doctor about taking some over the counter gas relief like Gas-X.
-Your nurses will have to help you go to the bathroom the first time: 1) You’ll need the help, and 2) They have to make sure everything is working and looking like it’s supposed to.
-It’s ok to say no to visitors: Everyone is different when it comes to visitors, but remember it’s ok to say no. My sister had two pretty traumatic emergency c-sections and she loved having visitors (well, with her second she eventually said no to visitors because her baby was in the NICU), and I had two scheduled c-sections and didn’t want a ton of visitors. Do whatever feels right to you.
-Take home the hospital underwear: Stock up on the hospital underwear! They are the most comfortable thing on your c-section scar.
-You will bleed: Just because you didn’t push a baby out your vagina doesn’t mean things are still happening down there. You will bleed and leak all sorts of fluids out of their for a few weeks.
-Wear a belly band: My nurses gave me one and insisted I put it on right away. It binds your scar so no fluid gets in and puts your stomach muscles back together.
-Buy Always Infinity Flex Foam Pads: these pads are thin but super absorbent, so it won’t feel like you’re wearing a diaper. I also used them to cover/protect my incision site.
-Learn to roll: “Learn to roll”…This is what the cashier at the grocery store told me when I told her I was going to have a c-section, and it is the best piece of advice. Your stomach muscles are in so much pain that you can’t use them to sit up or move, so you literally have to just roll. Roll out of bed, roll out of the chair, roll out of the car, etc
-Have a pillow near by: Laughing, crying, sitting up, laying down, basically everything you do will hurt after having a c-section. Keep a pillow nearby and use it to apply pressure to your incision site to make moving not hurt as much.
-Your scar stays numb for a while and will occasionally itch: Even a year later, your c-section scar will still feel itchy on some days. But it does go away over time.
I hope this is helpful to all you mama’s! If you have any other c-section tips, leave them in the comments below.