Secrets of a C-Section Delivery
During my first pregnancy almost six years ago, my husband and I took numerous childbirth classes that were offered through our local hospital. And let me tell you, the nurses teaching those classes were not shy by any means. Looking back now I really appreciate them being so open and honest with us about childbirth. They never sugarcoated the facts and always gave us realistic expectations.
I remember one class in particular as if it happened just yesterday. There were 10 or more couples, including my husband and I, sitting in a circle when the nurse told us that half of us would likely give birth through a C-section.
Just in case you don’t know, a C-section or Cesarean section is the process of delivering a baby through a surgical incision in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.
As I was sitting there in the birthing class listening to the instructor describing the surgery and postpartum recovery of a C-section, I was honestly not paying attention to what she was telling us.
I mean why would I?
My birth plan had already been planned and written out. I was going to have an unmedicated and natural birth without any obstacles in my way.
My daughter was going to be born problem-free and everything would be peachy. Haha. If only. In my mind, I was thinking that this would never happen to me. “I won’t have to have a C-section.”
- How to Prepare for a Scheduled C-Section
- What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag for a C-Section Delivery
- 13 Tips for Recovering From A C-Section With A Toddler
- 9 Postpartum Essentials for a Quick C-Section Recovery
- 9 Highly-Effective Tips for Breastfeeding after a C-Section
(THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER RECOMMEND ANYTHING THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN OR USE MYSELF. YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT MY DISCLOSURE POLICY HERE)
It Can Happen to Anyone
Sadly, my due date came and passed without any sign of my labor approaching. And ultimately, after I had become four days overdue, my doctor decided that it was time to medically induce labor.
Inducing Labor is when your health care provider gives you medicines and/or uses other methods to start your labor.
My doctor decided that in my particular situation, the best action was to administer a drug called Pitocin.
Pitocin is the hormone that causes your uterus to contract during labor, and to contract after delivery, preventing postpartum hemorrhage.
Health care professionals often use Pitocin before delivery to induce labor or to augment (or strengthen) labor that has slowed down or stalled completely.
Several hours after receiving the Pitocin I was still nowhere near dilated enough to give birth to our daughter. Because of this and after everything we had tried previously I trusted my doctor’s decision to have a C-section. Since I had planned for a natural birth, I had not even contemplated what would take place before or after having a C-section.
C-sections are less talked about and sometimes looked down upon by many. That is why I want to tell you what you may not know about having a c-section. Whether it is a planned or an emergency C-section, you should be as prepared as you possibly can be. Here is what I have learned after having two completely different types of C-section deliveries.
1. You Will be Given Anesthesia.
First of all, having a C-section means you are having surgery.
So you will be delivering your baby in an operation room(O.R.) You will also be given a spinal block or an epidural if you had not been given one before this.
A Spinal Block is when narcotics or an anesthetic is injected once with a needle.
Whereas an epidural is an injection in which a catheter is placed in the epidural space to allow continuous anesthesia.
2. Pulling and Tugging
The doctor will also explain that you will feel mild pulling and tugging once they are pulling the baby out.
Since you are extremely numb at this point the sensations are quite strange.
Another uncomfortable fact of c-sections is being cold and shaky from the powerful numbing drugs they give you. Sometimes they can even make you nauseous. (Trust me I experienced this during my last delivery).
3. IVs and Catheters
During your hospital stay, you have to keep the IVs and catheter in for at least the first day after the c-section.
Yes! I hate this part of being in the hospital. As if I wasn’t already uncomfortable enough.
4. Standing Up is Painful
Now then, getting up out of bed the first time after your c-section is extremely painful.
And I mean when they ask you your pain level on a scale of 1-10, you will be screaming 25.
As you try to get up and walk, you are bent over like a hunch back holding on to your stomach. Even though you are experiencing this excruciating pain, the nurses will have you taking walks several times a day.
You must be thinking, “Are you CRAZY? I have just had my stomach cut open. I can’t walk!” Yep, you have to. It is the best way for your body to heal and helps prevent blood clots.
5. Keep the Mesh Undies!
Yes, they will provide you with mesh underwear in the hospital that is so comfortable after having a c-section. They come up to your belly button and allow airflow to your incision.
Take some of them home. They are a lifesaver.
6. Hug a Pillow
Keep your favorite pillow next to you at all times!
Because after having a C-section it hurts when you laugh, sneeze, cough, and even when you breathe sometimes. Hugging a pillow tight to your stomach will help ease the pain whenever you get an unexpected sneeze.
7. Good Medications
Don’t worry you will be provided with some pretty effective prescription medications when you go home. They will help to make the pain more manageable.
But be cautious and try to wean yourself off of them at your pace.
Related: 7 Reasons Why I FAILED at Breastfeeding My First Baby
8. It Hurts to GO!
This is one thing I wish I had known before having my first C-section.
Get Colace stool softener capsules. This will be your best friend. You will be so thankful for their help when you need to go to the bathroom.
Your first bowel movement will not be pleasant by any means. Be sure to take your time.
9. No Lifting
You will also be advised NOT to lift anything heavier than your baby. So roughly everything from about 12 pounds up is off-limits.
The reason behind this is you can damage or even rip open your incision if you are lifting heavy objects or children.
10. Give Yourself Time to HEAL
The recovery from a C-section is a long and difficult process. You have to give yourself time to heal and get back to your old self (if that’s possible). It is a MAJOR abdominal surgery so don’t expect to be back in tip-top shape right away. I personally didn’t feel like myself again until around six months postpartum.
11. Who Says a C-Section is an Easy Way Out?
There have been so many times that I have been told having a c-section is taking the “easy way” out. I definitely would not call having your abdomen cut open an easy way of having a baby. In fact, every pregnant woman I have known has told me they did NOT want to have a C-section.
Like I said before, it is a MAJOR abdominal surgery that has so many risks involved. And although I have never experienced a natural birth, I believe giving birth is hard no matter how it happens. There is going to be pain and discomfort either way and sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter.
Both of my c-sections were not my first choice but my body would not dilate the first time. And on my second try, I had every intention of having a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-section) but my son was sideways and would not turn.
It does not matter how you have your baby as long as your baby is born into this world healthy. I am happy that I have both of my children here safe and sound. For me, that is what is most important.
You described a c-section so perfectly! I had one 2 years ago and I’m getting ready for my second. This was a great refresher!
I have to say, my experience wasn’t as painfull as described in this article. I had mine c-section 11 weeks ago, and by the time i was leaving Hospital (six days after my delivery) the pain was almost over. I’m already without any pain And starting working out little bit. To be honest, i really wish my next childbirt will be by c-section as well…
It’s different for everyone! I had an emergency c-section with my second. Yes the pain is bad, but for me it was much better after the first day. I never needed anything stronger than ibuprofen after that. I guess I might have a high pain tolerance (pushing 5.5 hours with the first and 3.5 hours with the second with no medication proved that!). I agree with the catheter being highly annoying! And it affected my peeing ability for a loooong time? Due with my third in July and going to try for a vbac. But if it has to be another csection, I’m going to see if my hospital will do a gentle c-s because something I’ve never gotten to do is hold my baby immediately after birth! You should add that when you plan a natural birth but end up with a csection, it is also emotionally challenging! Healing emotionally was much harder than physically for me?
I agree with most all of your post. My pain tolerance is much higher than most people. One thing to remember is that with each c section the healing gets easier.
What led me to your blog is the picture. Your baby looks exactly like my baby. Seriously, my children are convinced you stole her picture. I wish i could post a picture for you to see.
Oh wow I would love to see it. I’m also on Facebook as very anxious mommy if you find one that looks alike
I absolutely went into delivery with the full intentions that my doctor’s belief that the induction medication petocin would in fact work. Prior to the petocin they administered a pill vaginally pressed against my cervix. Long story short 4 of those pills, and 24 hours later my cervix only opened 1/2 cm. With that being said my doctor felt that the petocin might force my cervix open – it did not. They next pushed a balloon through the 1/2 cm opening of my cervix to encourage and also force my cervix to dilate. Ladies, let me explain this. This was my first bany, I had no idea what to expect with anything. I had apparently been experiencing serious contractions for over 42 hours and didn’t realize it, when she inserted that balloon I thought I was going to die. Knowing that you can only be on an epidural for so long I opted for a pain medicine administered through my IV, the pain was so bad I threw up then passed out after the medicine was administered. I said long story short didn’t I? Well we went in Monday evening to be induced, by Wednesday night after the balloon had fallen out the pain stopped but I felt the contractions and still even with the balloon I had only dilated 5cm none of which were on my own. I could no longer take laying in bed and told them to do the C-section. Everything above is absolutely true, however everyone’s heal time is different. After the nurses intital help me out of bed I was ready to go on my own with the pain. I refused Norco as it makes me sick so they gave me 600 mg of Motrin every 4-6 hours as needed and I’ll tell you it was only needed when I attempted to get up. Ultimately it took me maybe 4 days to get over the pain but I still follow the doctor’s instructions so to not cause any damage toh uterus since I am currently only 3 weeks after delivery. Bottom line ladies, if you go into delivery expecting one thing, always prepare for what could happen. There for brace yourself for a C-section…just…in…case. good luck ladies and congratulations to you all expecting.
you can also get a hernia and that is just as painful.
I can also relate I had an emergency c section. The hardest part for me was walking.
I agree with everything except the pain lol, screaming 25 when asked what your pain is 0-10? Come on. I am a wimp and my pain never got above maybe a 6. They medicated me well, and if you get up and walk as soon as possible the recovery is much easier and the pain is totally bearable. Honestly the worst pain I had was pooping the first time afterwards haha. Labor pain is way worse.
I can totally relate your story to mine (1st child)
Thank you, Jennifer. This post was a huge turning point for me. I love that it has helped so many people.
Love this! The hospital I delivered at actually offered me a Velcro binder after my c section and let me tell you, ask if they can provide it. Total life saver. And it came home with me. Made standing, walking, laughing, and sneezing way easier on those first several days
Thank you, Lisa. I didn’t know that some hospitals provided binders. I will have to remember that.
I had my son 37 years ago with an emergency C-section. It wasn’t what I had planned but my recovery was easy. I got out of bed as soon as I was allowed, put on the Velcro abdominal support and walked the halls with my IV stand whenever I wasn’t with my son. It helped with getting rid the the gas from the abdominal surgery and mainly so I didn’t get sore. I took Tylenol for pain. When I was released I went home and was fully capable of caring for myself and the baby. I felt great, My husband did the vacuuming but I was easily back at normal life within a few weeks. It was scary going through it but for me, recovery was not as you described. My advice: get up and walk as soon as possible. Lying in bed is what causes the soreness.
YES!!! Out of bed and moving as soon as possible & not over medicating are both key! Also hot showers. They always say to take cool showers, but I am getting ready for csection #4 & im telling you ahot shower in the AM and one right before bed for those first few days works -amazing- to help with pain & stiffness!
I too planned a vaginal, unmedicated home delivery. At week 37 my water broke at 2pm and no contractions. My midwife gave me castor oil to start my contractions, they started at 9pm. We saw meconium and my midwife checked me to confirm what was a breech baby. I got to the hospital at 11:30pm fully dilated and starting to feel the urge to push so of course, it was an emergency c-section (because drs arent trained and are affraid to do vaginal breech deliveries). I had to had general anesthesia, so my husband couldn’t be with me. my baby girl was born at 12:02am. We were separated for almost 7 hrs. I’m only 7 weeks post-op. breastfeeding was really hard
I can totally relate with you from having told ill have a CSectiln to Pillow becoming my BF!! Lol A must read for all that believes that having a c section is a easy way out!!
I appreciate your helpful tips for dealing with recovery from a cesarean surgery. I am a bit sad that at your childbirth class the instructor indicated that 50% of you would probably have a surgical birth. That is a horrible rate. The World Health organization suggests that the c-section rate shouldn’t be higher than 15% of all births. Sadly in the US and some other places around the world it is way too high. Depending on which State you are in the c-section rate can be different, anywhere from about 18%-50% or higher. If the hospital you plan to deliver at has a high c-section rate, I would encourage mom’s, especially if you are wanting a natural birth to really look at different hospitals with a lower rate, and as well, what is your ob’s c-section rate as well. That in and of itself can often really go against a plan for a natural or even vaginal birth.
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I had two kids in the natural way but if we’d decide for number 3, I’ll need a c-section (my boys were big, so the perinal tear next time could go so far…) What you write here doesn’t sound nice! Soem things are maybe easier but there come many disadvantages.
Thank u Ula, my babies r always big n so d forth baby am planning 2 have a c- section.
Thanks for sharing. Although I’ve never had a c- section, I agree with you that it is not the easy way out. I mean you were cut open and sewed back up for goodness sake! I wouldn’t call that easy. They did administer pitocin to me to induce labor and holy dang those are some rough contractions! Thank you for sharing your story so other moms can know what to expect from a c section!
Hi Hailey! Thank you so much for your comment. And yes those contractions were no joke. Haha
I had an emergency C-section with my first and a planned C with the second. The easy way out?? Sure. I can’t imagine anyone ever suggesting to a man that having major abdominal surgery represented the “easy way out” of anything. I had a stitch abscess with the first and ended up so sick they wanted to put me back in the hospital. I insisted they show my husband how to care for the infection because after all, I did have a newborn I needed to take care of. With the second, I could only stand up for a minute or two at a time before the pain would get so bad I had to sit down. Yes, that all seemed very “easy” to me. I invite anyone to experience it.
Thank you so much. Yes, I completely understand.
I am with you on this. I couldnt even move the first day. I couldnt feel my legs and lost a lot of blood. New nurse comes in and takes my catheter out and says to shower. Yep. I passed out in the shower. Most painful thing I’ve ever experienced and I get to do it all again in 4 days!
I had 4 natural births and my last baby was a planned c section, as like you, my son was lying sideways and had got his shoulder stuck. He also had quite a big head so I was pleased that I didn’t push him out! My 2nd child was also lying sideways but I went into labour & ready to push before any pain relief was able to be administered and before an emergency c section – my daughter was born in the end Face First rather than topof head first! Her face was bruised & swollen but it soon went down. I had to have 50 stitches & was ill for about 3 weeks afterwards. My 3rd child was born 3 years later – had a quick labour – he was born 10 minutes after my waters broke. Baby 4 was fairly easy too. When baby 5 was like baby 2, I was 13 years older and it was a no brainer to be organised & have a planned c section. I had a spinal & had a tablet to curb nausea. Yes, it was painful walking, but I was alert more than after my 2nd baby. I started driving and exercising after my 6 week check. It was a better experience than I had anticipated.
Omg I went through everything you did! I planned for a natural birth but 40 weeks came and no sign of baby. I had very little contractions and even when I was induced I was in labor for 24hrs! Finally after all that time and still being at a 7, I asked for the C-Section bc I was tired of waiting. My blood pressure was dropping and I was getting a fever from all the meds. I don’t wish for anyone to have a c-section. The healing takes a long time and the pain is so intense.
My recovery/pain wasn’t nearly as bad as described here. I had a planned c-section (due to my son being breech) 19 days ago. I’m off my pain meds completely and have little to no pain.
I only had a natural birth so this was really insightful. Thanks for linking up at Working Mommy Abroad, have shared!
Thanks so much. I am glad I could join also.
The pillow was so important to my recovery. Any time I felt a sneeze or I was about to laugh, I would grab one. Also, the shaking. I wish I’d known about that ahead of time.
Yes the pillow was my absolute BEST FRIEND.
I had a c section with no 3. So much more painful than natural…great tips here to help someone just about to go through it. Take those stool softeners for afterwards????????
Yes I personally have never had a natural birth but have been told by moms who have that they prefer them over C-sections.
I’ve never had a baby so I was a bit hesitant to read this but I’m glad I did! People don’t tell you these things until it’s happening!
Yes you never know what will happen until you are having a baby. It is so different for everyone. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
I had two C-sections well. The second one was also a result of an unsuccessful vbac. This is a really great post because there is so much that goes into this process and just because it’s much more common does not mean it’s any less of a major surgery.
I was surprised how hard it was just to sit down after having a c section! Wearing a brace really helped while I was waiting for my muscles to heal. These are all great tips!it helps being prepared!
Thank you. Yes it is hard to do anything but in time it heals.
As a postpartum nurse, I think that this is a great post! More people really need to be educated on this.
Thank you so much.
I knew that C-Sections were not easy but honestly, I didn’t know all that was involved in the recovery.
Some are similar to a vaginal delivery as well. I think the most important thing in recovery via either childbirth method is: A) a healthy child B) listen to your body. It knows when you are overdoing it and need to rest.
I completely agree. Childbirth is hard either way. Thanks for your comment.
I’m so sorry you had such a rough labor. It is so different for everyone. I hope you and your family are doing well now.
I had two c-sections one year apart. I remember the pain, and the struggle of not being able to help my baby after my second section. Moms def need to read this… you just never know
Thank you so much. I could not imagine having them a year apart.
I’m currently in my 3rd trimester with a breech baby, hoping baby shifts in the coming weeks. I’m already psyching myself up for either delivery methods but it’s hard to imagine being more ready for one or the other! I’m terrified of the recovery from a c-section and worried about not bonding with the baby enough.
With my last pregnancy my son was sideways and would not move so we decided that since I had already had a previous C-section we would go ahead with a planned one for this pregnancy as well.
As far as being prepared. There is no way to be prepared unless you have been through one or the other. I can say that I was more prepared for my second C-section since I had been through one before.
I would not worry about bonding with your baby. I do know a lot of moms are concerned that they cannot breastfeed or have much time with their newborn after a C-section and it’s not the case. Hypothetically, if you were going to have a C-section, you can request that as long as your baby is born without any problems to have skin to skin right after birth (in the O.R) I did it with my son and it helped me so much. I also was able to breastfeed him as soon as we got back to our room. I wish you lots of luck with your pregnancy and delivery.
I had a C with my first and totally agree with all of these! Especially #1 – I had zero risks for a csection but ended up having one anyway.
Right! You never know what will happen when you go in to have a baby. I went in with my last baby for a scheduled C-section and while they were giving me the IV my son’s heart rate fell and they prepped me for an emergency C-section just in case they couldn’t get his heart rate back up. Luckily, we got it under control but it was the scariest moment I have ever had during a pregnancy.