What I Didn’t Know About C-Sections

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I had it all planned out. I was going to deliver naturally, with no epidural (crazy, I know). That was my plan. A woman with a high pain tolerance and much determination, I thought “why not?!” Nothing and no one could change my mind UNTIL … the actual delivery day.

What I didn't know about c-sections - almost delivery day!
Almost delivery day!! 🙂

My husband and I had been married for 2 years when we found out we were expecting a baby girl! She was due on Valentine’s Day. A week later there were still no signs of her coming … not even a little dilation. I tried all the tricks to put myself into labor–walking, spicy foods, raspberry leaf tea, squats, stairs, and all sorts of wacky things! Nothing worked. At 41 weeks, my OB/GYN decided to induce labor. I consented to the standard overnight Cervidil (to help with dilation) to be followed by Pitosin (to cause contractions) the next day. When Pitosin was started at 6:00 AM, I began to feel a few contractions, but nothing major. This went on ALL day. Our nurse stayed by my side as I was given high doses of Pitosin with little response. 

What I didn't know about c-sections - with nurse
My sweet nurse, Amy 🙂

 After 12 hours of labor, I had dilated to 1/2 centimeter … nope, not even a full centimeter!! My OB gently broke the news that he needed to perform an urgent C-section to ensure the safety of the baby. For a moment, tears rolled down my face as I was scared. I was nervous about being cut. I felt sad about things not going as planned. By that time, the contractions had worsened to excruciating, so I was hurting both physically and emotionally. While being rolled into the operating room, I did not quite know what to expect.

I was immediately given a saddle block, and surprisingly I did not feel a thing after that. Within minutes of entering the OR, our baby girl was born weighing in at 9 pounds 1 ounce!!  Four years later, I delivered again via c-section and had a 9-pound baby boy. We are truly blessed beyond measure, and I hope this post helps expectant moms to be calm instead of scared if the need arises to have a c-section. 

What I didn’t know:

That I would have a c-section  –  I NEVER thought I would need a c-section. As an expectant mom, you should prepare your mind by acknowledging that a c-section IS a real possibility. That way, you will not be devastated if things don’t go “as planned”. Currently, about 32% of women in the U.S. deliver by c-section, so that means you have about a 1 in 3 chance of having to go that route.

That I would not remember much from baby’s first 72 hours  After surgery, you will be offered something to control the pain (usually morphine or systemic narcotics). This medicine, more than likely, will make you sleepy and out of it. Honestly, I slept so much the first few days after the c-section that my whole time in the hospital is a blur.

That I would be expected to walk the next day – When the nurse told me to “get up and walk”  the next day, I thought she was crazy. It was extremely difficult to get up and move after major abdominal surgery! I remember it being very painful … maybe the worst part, but you can do it!  It is important to help with circulation, improve bowel function, and get you back to “normal” sooner. 

That the nurse would come press on/massage my stomach afterwards – Following your c-section, the nurse will massage your uterus to encourage it to contract and shrink back to its normal size. (Sadly, this isn’t as spa-like as it sounds.) It is uncomfortable.

What I didn't know about c-sections - baby girl!
Baby girl in her go-home outfit!

That I would spend 4 days in the hospital – I did not expect to stay in the hospital for so long. This is standard after a c-section. After 4 days, we were sent home with this beautiful baby girl.

That my husband would have to do almost everything the first week home – My husband was a trooper as you can see from the photos below (taken upon arrival home and during a middle-of-the-night feeding). Since it hurt to move around, I was not able to take care of the baby the first week home. He did practically everything during the first week home. 

What I didn't know about c-sections - daddy on duty at home
Real-world, middle of the night feeding once home!

That FULL recovery would take so long. I was bummed about the fact that I could not lift the baby much after the c-section. It is hard to lift a 9-pounder without putting undue strain on the incision. The recommendation is that you do not lift anything heavier than your baby. Within a week or two, I was able to lift her, but it took 6 weeks at home to feel back to my normal self. It took months longer than that to feel completely back to normal. My advice is to simply lower your expectations, take it EASY, give yourself a break, and allow others to help you.

How important it is to eat fiber – Without sounding too graphic, I will just summarize with this advice: No pushing when you’re on the throne (since you have a new incision)! Be sure to eat some fiber-rich foods, drink plenty of fluids, and take what your doctor gives to avoid having a major ordeal with this.

That c-sections have a few perks – Your baby will be born with a nicely rounded head (cosmetic benefit) because it did not make the tight squeeze through the vaginal canal. Also, there is no pushing involved, so many women who are capable of having a vaginal birth opt for c-sections simply to avoid the pushing. I would not recommend this due to the longer recovery time, but to each his own. 🙂

What I didn't know about c-sections - family after 2nd c-section
Family pic after 2nd c-section!

The bottom line is that although a c-section is considered major surgery, it is the happiest kind … you gain a baby! Even if things don’t go “as planned” the BEST birth is the one that is safest. If you had a c-section birth, please share your tips in the comments below. Much love!   

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Kendra, a Birmingham native, is happily married to her husband of 14 years and is the mom of two sweet kiddos (10-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy). A former pharmaceutical sales representative of 12 years, she now stays home with their kiddos while running a small business. Two years ago, The Paisley Pea, an online baby and maternity brand, was born from her passion for sewing and all things earthy! The company has now grown into a substantial business with 75 retailers across the country. When not running the business, she enjoys crafting with her children, entertaining, exploring other cultures, music, and being a nature-lover! She is excited about sharing her experiences as a MOMpreneur to encourage other moms in their quest.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the tips! I’ve never had a c-section but know it’s always possible in my future. But either way the baby is delivered…FIBER! It is your best friend! Lol nobody told me before I had my first how scary the bathroom would be after the baby. LOL so this is great advice! Everyone should know.

  2. My tips would be don’t be afraid to deny visitors the early weeks home because you will be exhausted. Wear the band they give you from the hospital it helps mobility without servere pain. Upon discharge get a clear understanding of how the suture your incision (staples, dermabond). Knowing helps ease the anxiety of knowing how to care for it.

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