Things I wish I had known before having my C-section

C-section

No matter what type of birth you're planning (and hoping) for, you shouldn't rule out the possibility of a Cesarean section. In fact, the number of women delivering via c-section is nearly 1 in 3.

Whether it's a scheduled surgery or a last-minute decision, the typical c-section is straightforward and follows a tightly-scripted game plan. It’s quick, with the procedure itself lasting under an hour. Typically, getting the baby out is done in the first 10 or 15 minutes, with the rest of the time spent stitching you back up.

Unexpected or not, there's no reason a c-section has to be a totally negative experience. Knowing what to expect before, during and after a c-section can make the surgery less traumatic and help speed recovery.

Here are things I wish I had known before having my c-section. Had I known these things, I think my recovery would have been less anxiety-filled, because I would have known what to expect.

It is major surgery.

Yes, c-sections are pretty common these days. I heard a statistic that said as many as 1/3 of babies are born this way. But still, it is major surgery.

Getting up to walk is ROUGH at first.

It's going to hurt like heck when you get out of bed and walk for the first time, which they make you do relatively soon after surgery. You will feel like you are 100 years old and you can't stand up straight. You will likely shuffle around as you remain hunched over. This is NORMAL.

Each day gets a little bit better.

You will feel a little bit better with every day that passes. I was told this by one of my nurses who had 4 c-sections herself and was pregnant again. I consider her an expert.

Take medication for the pain.

You will be offered narcotics in the early days after surgery. I didn't take the narcotics because I'm prone to nausea as a side effect. But I got some IV medication that was like strong ibuprofen, and when I went home, I rotated ibuprofen and Tylenol for the first week or two. If you can stay on top of the pain, you will be able to move better and care for yourself and your baby better.

It hurts like crazy to cough, laugh or sneeze.

Holding a pillow against your incision, or pressing on it with your hands might help a little bit. But in those early days, it's going to hurt, period. I tried my hardest not to do any of these three at first. Some places might make you practice coughing to clear your lungs. [I read that in my baby book.] No one made me do that at our hospital.

The water retention in your body will likely get worse before it gets better.

You receive a lot of IV fluids in the hospital during labor and during the c-section. These made my already swollen face, legs and feet even bigger before my body started to get rid of the excess fluid. Really, my whole body was swollen. It will go away over the next week or two.

Accept help when you go home.

Cooking help, cleaning help, child care help. Accept it all because you will need it. Remember, you just had major surgery.

You need to take care of yourself.

Expect to be taking care of yourself in the early days as you recover enough to take care of your baby. I didn't anticipate how hard it would be to try to care for a baby while I was recovering too. I mainly focused on feeding Raleigh in the early days and Matt did the rest of everything. Once I started to feel and move better, I took on more of the responsibilities.

Be careful with how you move.

Don't do anything resembling a sit up or anything that strains the ab muscles. Don't try to use your abs to sit up from laying down on your back. [Especially if you're holding your baby. I accidentally did that.] Roll to your side and use your arms to push yourself up instead.

Sleep in a recliner if laying flat hurts too much at first. If you overdo it, you might injure yourself and possibly cause problems with your incision. I tweaked things at least once, although thankfully not to the point of needing to go in for treatment. But I sure did get sore from it.

Use an abdominal binder.

This might help you feel more stabilized as your incision and muscles heal. I didn't use mine until after a week or so, but I wish I would have used it right away. It would have offered me some support when I needed it badly.

Expect soreness.

Especially in the scar tissue beneath the incision—this is where I have had the most tenderness since my surgery. Expect the soreness to move, too. One day, the right side might be sore and the next, the left.

Ice might help.

Buy a couple ice packs or take a few at home from the hospital and use them when you're resting. It will help decrease inflammation, swelling, and pain.

Expect numbness.

You will likely feel numbness and tingling in your lower abdomen around the incision area. This is a normal result of the surgery because of the affected nerves. It will get better with time.

Don't overdo it.

You'll hear this advice offered a lot. I was also told that everyone does overdo it at some point. Once you start to feel a little better, resist the urge to do all the things. If you do too much, you'll take a few steps backward and likely have a lot more pain and tenderness for a couple days.

No heavy lifting.

My mother-in-law had three c-sections and she said she remembers being told not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. Really, your baby is the heaviest thing you should be lifting.

This is tricky with a car seat, though. If I went anywhere, I needed to lift the car seat in and out. Add a 9lb baby to that, and it was really hard not to lift too much. Initially, I got help as much as I could when I needed to go to appointments or on errands. Once I was feeling a little better, I used my stroller to go places instead of carrying the car seat very far.

No driving for a while.

I was told not to drive until you can slam on the brakes without pain. And sit comfortably in the car too.

Watch for signs of infection.

Increased pain, swelling, redness, heat or drainage from the incision, fever or chills… Report any signs of infection to your doctor asap.

Some swelling around the incision is normal.

Don't worry yet—let time pass and see how it goes. Things are trying to heal beneath the surface, and through all the layers that were cut. It will get better.

Start walking as soon as you can.

But again, don't overdo it. Take it easy. The more mobile you are though, the better you will feel. Physically AND mentally.
Hormones will likely make everything seem and feel worse.

This is normal. However, if you feel like you're passing the baby blues phase and heading into postpartum depression, talk to your doctor.

It's okay to grieve.

You may feel some regret about having a c-section or grieve the “loss" of vaginal birth. These are normal feelings too. Give yourself grace. You sacrificed yourself to bring your baby into this world in a way that is truly selfless. You are a warrior.

C-sections are REAL births.

This might seem obvious, but a lot of people don't realize that they consider c-sections to be a lesser form of birth. That they are somehow inferior to those who have had vaginal deliveries. You are not a lesser mom because you had to have a c-section. Remember, you sacrificed yourself completely, you were CUT OPEN so that your baby could have life. Be kind to yourself.

The c-section recovery is a long process.

You will need patience. The weight will start to come off right away as the fluid is flushed out of your system. That last bit will stick around for a while, though.

Plus, because of being cut open and healing, it's going to be harder to work your core and get your abs back in shape. This is beyond your control. If you push it or do things you aren't supposed to, you will permanently injure yourself. Instead, go slow. Do approved core exercises.

Know that it took 9 months to gain the pregnancy weight, so it should take a while to lose it. Again, you had major surgery. Your body went through A LOT. Be patient and be kind to yourself.

Source/mother.ly/
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