I remember being so nervous about having to have a C-section with my oldest. As a young, first time mom, I was scared and really didn’t know what to expect! Of course I went to my old friend Google, but at the time I didn’t really see much about what to expect. Looking back, there are so many things that I wish I would have known about C-sections and recovery. Hopefully these will help you out if you end up needing one yourself.
All About C-Sections
I was 23 when I had my first child. At the time, I knew nothing about birth or what to expect, and I knew even less about C-sections. So when I was told that I needed one because my daughter was breech, I was terrified! I knew it was what was best for my daughter, but that did not make it much easier. In the days leading up to my surgery, I still felt I hadn’t really been told what to expect or what c-section recovery was like. The day of my surgery, I was just as lost and confused as I was when they initially told me about the surgery.
Thankfully, my surgery was simple and my daughter was healthy! After a few days in the hospital, I signed my discharge papers and we left. Even then, I hadn’t truly been told what to do or expect for C-section recovery! Literally, I was googling and winging it. New mom, new baby, major surgery, and I feel that nothing was really told to me. This might not be the experience for everyone, but it was mine and it was not amazing.
As I have said in the past, I was not too thrilled to have a C-section. I was nervous and as a first time mom, I really did not know what to expect. The first thing was that I could not eat or drink anything, not even water, the night before my surgery. For a pregnant woman, this feels like the end of the world. I was not happy that I didn’t get my coffee, but I did manage to survive. Thankfully I was scheduled for 8 AM so it wasn’t too terrible.
I had to arrive at the hospital at 6 AM, two full hours before my scheduled time. When they took me back to the prep area, I was asked some rather strange questions. They must have been routine, but I wasn’t asked them with my recent baby so maybe things have changed. The questions were on the lines of ” Do you have running water?” ; “Do you have a home with electricity to return to?” These questions took me aback a bit, I had everything I could possibly need and a wonderful stable home, but it is sad that many women do not.
Once the question and answer session was over, they had me get undressed and put on my hospital robe. Then the nurse inserted an IV in my hand. She then proceeded to make sure the “area” was shaved. Let me tell you, that was awkward. I couldn’t see that area for quite some time, and shaving had become quite the chore. Having someone else shave you, especially a stranger is a bit strange, but hey all modesty goes out the window when birthing a baby.
When everything was done, I was taken into the operating room. At this point, I was separated from my mom, who was to be in the delivery with me. From what I was told, she was taken into her own little area to get dressed and wait for me to be ready for surgery. With c-sections you are only allowed one person in with you. I really wanted two, but such is life.
In the operating room, I was given my spinal. Seriously, this was the worst part for me. Thankfully I was not having contractions and it wasn’t difficult to stay still. The nurse held me basically while the anesthesiologist inserted the needle. It was quick and rather painless, and the drugs set in FAST. Next thing I knew, I couldn’t feel my legs and the nurse helped move me onto the table.
The curtain was draped, and all the medical staff started coming in. Finally I saw my mom, and that really helped set me at ease. C-sections are a major surgery, and it is normal to be nervous.
Finally it was time to begin. My wonderful anesthesiologist, who ironically ended up doing my epidural at a completely different hospital years later for my VBAC, stood beside me on one side, and my mom was seated on the other. At one point I thought I was going to be sick, so Promise ( my tall dark Haitian anesthesiologist) game me some anti nausea drugs. He even scratched my nose for me since my arms were laid out and I wasn’t able to move them.
It was such a strange feeling. I felt no pain, but the pressure was intense. The doctor was tugging and pulling, and I could feel it all to an extent. At one point, I actually asked if I could watch, but back then that was not allowed. Now they have an option for gentle C-sections, which allow for a clear curtain to see what is going on down there.
Either way, I went in a little after 10:00 AM and at 10:49 AM my precious Willow was born.
So I won’t lie to y’all, the recovery for C-sections sucks. Anyone who wants to say that C-sections are the “easy way out” are full of it, because I have had both types of birth and the C-section was by no means easy. Recovery was longer and more painful, and it could just be me, but it was not the best birth experience.
Immediately once little Willow was here, she was brought around for me to see her. The nurse somewhat laid her on my shoulder for me to basically just look at ( and cry hysterically). I couldn’t hold my daughter, as my arms were laid out, and there was no skin to skin for me. The nurse then took Willow, and my mother out of the room and to the nursery where she would get cleaned up and all that fun stuff. Let me tell you, THAT was the worst feeling EVER. I just had a baby, and she was taken away so fast.
Once again, I was alone in the operating room. My mother was with my daughter, and I was being put back together again. Once all my organs were returned my body and I was sewn up, I was then taken into recovery.
The recovery room was boring, cold, and lonely. I was in there with one nurse, and I was just itching to get to my new little baby. While I was in there, I did take a nap, so it made the time pass by a little quicker. All in all I would say I was in the recovery room for about an hour or so, but it seemed like an eternity for a mother wanting to be with her child. After the eternity ended, I was then wheeled into my room and reunited with baby Willow!
The Hospital Stay
Finally getting Willow and getting into my room was so surreal. I remember asking my mom, boyfriend (husband now), and the nurses to make sure no one gave Willow a bottle as I wanted to try to breastfeed her. No one did, but I had heard stories and I didn’t want anyone feeding her anything without my permission.
That first day I had so many visitors, it really was all a blur. I have never been one to not want visitors though. Personally, I love the company and love having the people come and say hello and just visit, but I know a lot of moms don’t want hospital visitors.
My best friend brought me an iced coffee, which is why she is my best friend. She knows me and knows that my soul needs coffee to survive. Well, that was quickly shut down when I was told that for the first 24 hours I was allowed nothing but clear liquids! WTF?!?!?! I hadn’t eaten, had no coffee, had surgery, and NOW I can’t eat for another 24 hours? Chicken broth and jello do not count as food. No lie, I drank that coffee when no one was looking. Maybe I am just a rebel like that! 4 years later with my second baby at a different hospital, I was told that wasn’t something they did there. My doctor told me they let patients eat whatever they want after their surgery, so this is probably not an everywhere thing.
The typical hospital stay time for c-sections is 3 days. On day 1 I couldn’t feel the lower half of my body most of the day, so it really wasn’t that bad. By day two though, I was feeling it! Day 2 was also the day that I had to walk. Oh boy was this no fun. Getting out of bed hurt. When I was finally on my feet, it felt like my insides were going to fall out! The only bit of relief was a pillow that I kept pushed tightly to my incision area.
Walking was truly only bad the first time or so getting up. After that it wasn’t that bad, painful but bearable. I tried to spend as much time as I could up and walking, because they said it would help me heal and I would be more likely to be discharged! So I walked that hospital wing as much as possible. Oh, and they finally gave me the clear for solid foods on day 2 as well.
On day 3 I was done. I just wanted to go home. It felt like I spent the whole day just waiting to see if I could go! One thing I didn’t know, was they they would no let me leave until I defecated. Yeah, pretty gross but they want you to be able to go. Let me tell you, that was one painful poo and thank you Lord for stool softeners. After that was over, my doctor was able to remove my staples from my incision and I was given the all clear to go home!
C-Section Recovery At Home
So I was given all of my discharge papers, signed what I needed to and I was gone! I thought I was all good, and knew what I needed to buy again, I was wrong.
Take It Easy
This was probably more simple since she was my first baby, but your body needs to heal. I was probably too active honestly. Dishes and laundry needed to be done, so I did them. I knew I needed to rest and heal, but I never truly thought about it. C-sections are a major surgery, and your body takes time to heal, so don’t over exert yourself of you can cause some serious damage.
Don’t Lift Heavy Things
Maybe I should have just known this, but I don’t remember EVER being told not to life anything heavier than my baby. I am sure it was somewhere written in my papers, but who really reads those things? After a week or less, I was out grocery shopping and carrying that heavy infant car seat with me everywhere. Thankfully nothing happened, but I was putting myself at risk.
Did you know that you aren’t supposed to drive for about 2 or more weeks after a c-section? If you did, good for you because I had no clue. Again, this was probably in my discharge papers but it was never once spoken to me by anyone. The only reason I found out is when my older sister told me, because I had been out driving around days after I had gotten home!
Oh did that incision itch when it was healing! I just wanted to rip my skin off, but I resisted. Healing skin itches and this was itching to the extreme.
You CAN VBAC
So I was told by my Doctor that I would have a C-section for all subsequent children. This, is NOT true. Just because you have one doesn’t mean you can’t have a VBAC, I promise because I had one. You just need to talk to your doctor, and find a doctor who is supportive of your decisions.
C-Sections Aren’t That Terrible
While I was obviously not the biggest fan of having a C-section, it honestly isn’t the end of the world. You get to have your baby and that is what matters in the end. I have heard negative things about C-section moms before, and really it is all crap. You are no less of a mother based on the manner in which you give birth.
I hope you found this helpful! Let me know in the comments below what your birth experience was like!