A C-section is a major surgery! It’s no walk in the park. This procedure is used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus. *According to the CDC – 31.9% of births result in a C-Section.
There are many reasons labor ends in a C-Section.
My C-Section delivery was due to my baby being in a breech position. Other reasons include: Placenta previa, carrying multiples, a baby in distress, and just plain old – your labor isn’t progressing.. the list goes on..
So here are a few things I wish I knew/thought/planned/didn’t plan .. . You get the point!
It is a MAJOR surgery!
Seven, yes 1, 2, 3 … SEVEN layers of skin are cut to get to your baby! The seven layers are the skin, fat, rectus sheath (coating outside the abs), the rectus (abs, which are split along the grain somewhat more than cut), the parietal peritoneum (first layer surrounding the organs), the loose peritoneum and then the uterus, which is a very thick muscular layer.
See, that’s major! Bet you never thought of it like that before! Lol … I can laugh now it’s over ☺️
Okay, I admit I was a bit dramatic the few weeks leading up to my C-Section. Joe had just about had it with me, I could tell. In my defense I had never had any type of surgery before so darn it let me scared and upset and just sympathize, would ya!?
I had someone say “Oh please, it’s not like it was in our day. We gave birth naturally no drugs or anything!” In that moment I realized how competitive moms get. This is why we have no village. Stop judging one another .. epidural, no epidural, planned, unplanned, C-Section, IVF!
1. It’s a miracle to be pregnant. People out there are praying for it.
2. It’s your babies birth story, you and your babies birth story. Special, unique in every way.
I’m not less of a mom because my fourth was a C-Section. The girl crying in her bathroom after another miscarriage is no less of a mom either! We are in this together, let’s start acting that way. #motherhoodvillage
2. Before the procedure
At Home: Prep some food before hand or get ready to order a lot of take out. You and your spouse will be too tired to think straight. Especially if you have other kids at home. Organize your clothes and the babies clothes so that whatever important things you may need are easily accessible. It will be hard to bend. (Nearly impossible) *Night gowns are a plus. If this is scheduled, you will be given an antiseptic soap to wash with the night before and morning of, I highly recommend shaving two says before. If you’re planning on getting slippers, please make sure to get easy slip on ones. I’m a foodie, if you are too .. EAT! Because you will not be able to 12 hours prior to surgery until the day after your surgery. Your health care provider might recommend certain blood tests day before or morning of. These tests will provide information about your blood type and your level of hemoglobin (the main component of red blood cells.) This is needed in the unlikely event that you need a blood transfusion due to blood loss.Must haves for bed side: Thermometer, Water Bottle, Motrin, Tylenol, Stool Softener, Pads (When you think you don’t need one anymore and it’s gone – it’s not — wear a pad ☺️
In the OR
- Your abdomen and legs will be cleansed. A tube (catheter) will be placed into your bladder to collect urine. Intravenous (IV) lines will be placed in a vein in your hand or arm to provide fluid and medication.
Anesthesia: Most C-sections are done under regional anesthesia, which numbs only the lower part of your body, this allows you to remain awake during the procedure. Common choices include a spinal block and an epidural block. In the event of an emergency, general anesthesia is sometimes needed. With general anesthesia, you won’t be able to see, feel or hear anything during the birth.
I was given a block, numb to the ankles. I was able to wiggle my toes. I was very cold, and a little sleepy after Anesthesia. It is also quite common to feel nauseous. Let your Anesthesiologist know how you are feeling, that’s what they are there for! To make you feel comfortable! Abdominal incision:
The doctor will make an incision through your abdominal wall. It’s usually done horizontally near the pubic hairline. Your doctor will then cut layer by layer — through the fatty tissue and connective tissue and then separate the abdominal muscle to access your abdominal cavity.
The uterine incision is then made — usually horizontally across the lower part of the uterus (depending on the position of the baby)
- After this is when you will feel pressure, pulling and tugging. It doesn’t hurt. The best way I can explain it is if you’ve had a tooth pulled. There is no pain as they are tugging side to side but the pressure is still there. *They did push down on the top of my belly quite forcefully due to my babies positioning. They were able to get the legs out, but had to push at the top of my belly for the head to move down.
- Delivery. The doctor will clear your baby’s mouth and nose of fluids, then clamp and cut the umbilical cord. The nurse will measure the baby and call it out for you to hear. The baby will receive the Vitamin K and Hep B shot if you allowed them to do so.
- *Side note- I ask them to leave the Vernix caseosa, also known as vernix, (the waxy or cheese-like white substance found coating the babies skin. It is produced by dedicated cells and is thought to have some protective roles during fetal development and for a few hours after birth.
- The placenta will be removed from your uterus, and the incisions will be closed with sutures.
- I asked for the baby to be placed on me for some skin so skin before we started the surgery.
After the procedure
You will be taken into the recovery room. I was wheeled in to find Joe dancing with the baby. He looked at me with puffy eyes and a smile that stretched from ear to ear. “Oh, Hello Mommy!” As if it’s possible, in moments like these, I think to myself — I love him more and more.
He placed her on me – my turn to really hold her ☺️ I stripped her down so we can get some skin to skin. She was hungry and I was hoping she’d latch on quickly.
Oh how I missed having a little face stare up at me. And my body nourishes her. I mean how amazing? I love it! – definitely not for everyone though, so don’t feel bad if it’s something you decide NOT to do!
I began to get itchy! Sooo itchy! (Effects of the anesthesia) I was really thirsty but wasn’t allowed to eat or drink.
*Why didn’t anyone tell me I wouldn’t be allowed to have more than just ice chips following the C-Section* 🙄 — Apparently it’s because you make experience nausea from the anesthesia.
I was taken to my room after about an hour or so. Your nurse will monitor your incision. They will come into the room often to check vitals and check your incision sight for bleeding. Your bladder catheter will not be removed for a while. *You may experience swelling of the face and extremities like the hands, feet and legs. The faster you’re able to get up and walk around – the better it will be.
Your nurse will discuss a pain management plan for your post-surgical pain with breast-feeding in mind.
I advise you to take the meds! Please do not try to be a Super Mommy .. the pain will creep up and you will be extremely upset with yourself! – I speak from experience.
I never realized just how much we use our stomach muscles. I also realized I need to work on my upper body strength – trying to pull myself up in that bed was not an easy task.
My catheter was taken out the next day. This meant getting up to use the bathroom. – I wasn’t too thrilled about that. It hurt to get up, it hurt the walk. Pray you don’t have to cough or sneeze either – whoa momma!
I was not allowed to shower until Day 3! I wanted to bathe so bad – I was still so itchy from the anesthesia. Ughhhh I hated this all! My amazing sister in law offered to give me a sponge bath! – Thanks Jess – I love you!
Later that night I decided not to take the Percocet – I was afraid being too drowsy to feed the baby and getting constipated. Plus the pain wasn’t too bad. Then around 1am, the nurse came in to check vitals and I was in pain! A lot of pain. The baby decided she wanted to cluster feed that night – and oh what a night!
The following day I felt like I got hit by a train. Everything hurt. And I couldn’t wait to go home. I missed by girls and I was so happy I’d be going home. Walk, walk, walk and walk! It helps relieve the gas pains you will experience all the way up to your neck and shoulders.
Bringing home baby. I showered and began to get things ready. Hopeful that if I kept moving more gas would pass and I’d feel better. I fed the baby one last time – handed in the birth certificate form- signed my discharge papers and waited impatiently to be picked up 🙂 **Getting in and out of a car is NOT easy! Pot holes will hurt!
Take it easy. Take it easy. Take it easy.
Sleep when baby sleeps. Also, try to keep everything that you and the baby need within reach. For the first few weeks do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
- Pain relief. I used a heating pad, and alternated between Tylenol and Motrin. Both safe for those who are breast-feeding.
- Avoid sex. To prevent pain and risk of infection avoid sex for six weeks after your C-section.
- Bathing. I’ve read that some women bathe as soon as 1 week post C-Section. I would avoid doing so for risk of infection. I stuck to quick showers – washed with a mild soap and made sure to pat the incision area well.
* I would also consider not driving until you’re able to comfortably hit the brakes and twist your body without the help of pain medication. This was two weeks for me.
Pay attention to any signs of infection. Contact your doctor if:
- Your incision is red, swollen or you see discharge
- You have a fever
- You have heavy bleeding (blood clots larger than the size of a baseball)
A two week and eight week appointment with your gynecologist is usually standard.
Please do not feel embarrassed to reach out to someone if the heightened sense of emotions is a little too overwhelming. A woman’s hormones are completely out of wack at this time.
Feel free to check out my full birth story: 4th Child – 1st C-Section