Mothering · Postpartum

C-Section Survival Guide

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Let’s talk c-sections, the “other way” to birth a baby. As a mama who has birthed three babies via cesarian, I am here to tell you that they are no joke. A c-section is a MAJOR surgery so all of you mamas on your high-horse talking about how it is taking the easy way out, I’m here to tell you that you are absolutely wrong. And to all of the other c-section mamas out there, don’t ever feel ashamed for how you brought your beautiful little babes into the world!

I’d have loved to have at least one vaginal birth. However, my twin pregnancy was high-risk and required delivery no later than 36 weeks gestation. Baby A was also breech, so there was no way I was going to push them both out safely. So we scheduled a c-section! With my son, I elected to have a repeat c-section even though he was head-down, locked, and loaded my entire pregnancy. My doctor explained to me that a repeat c-section was safer than a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) and while I could certainly attempt a vaginal delivery, the risks would be higher. With that in mind, I chose the safest route for myself and my baby boy.

A scheduled c-section is scary enough, so for all of you mamas who delivered via emergency c-section, you are rock stars. I can’t imagine how terrifying that would have been! For all the mamas out there preparing to deliver via c-section, or for those who just want to have this information in their back pocket in case their birth plan goes out the window, I have compiled all of the advice I have collected over the years to help you successfully prepare and recover from a cesarian delivery.

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C-Section Preparation

Prior to your scheduled/anticipated c-section, there are several things you will want to do in advance:

Drink plenty of water

Drink tons of water leading up to your c-section. While you will be given fluids via IV, it is always smart to ensure your body is well-hydrated prior to surgery.

Eat a great meal

You won’t be permitted to eat after midnight on the day of your surgery. And you may not feel like it for a while when recovering. So eat like a king the night before to ensure you have enough energy for the big day.

Layer on the chapstick

My lips were extremely chapped after my c-sections, so I highly recommend layering on the chapstick in the days leading up to your c-section as well as packing some for your hospital stay.

Antibacterial shower cleanse

Your doctor will likely recommend that you clean your body with antibacterial soap before you come to the hospital. I recommend Hibiclens.

Remove your nail polish

Make sure you take off your nail polish prior to surgery. Your nail beds are used as another way to monitor your blood circulation and it can also interfere with the pulse oximeter.

Purchase Depends

If you listen to anything, listen to this. PURCHASE ADULT DIAPERS. They are SO much more comfortable than the mesh underwear and jumbo pads they provide at the hospital. They are also more discrete and since you will be bleeding for several weeks they are so much more convenient and practical. These are what I used!

Pack comfortable bottoms

Have plenty of comfortable bottoms packed in your hospital bag; like sweatpants or drawstring shorts that will accommodate your surgical incision and girdle. You’ll want something that will rise above the belly button and not bee too tight.

Charge your phone/camera

You don’t want to end up with a dead battery right before your c-section! Your support person will be allowed to take photos so make sure to charge that baby up.

Determine your support person

You will be allowed one person in the operating room with you during surgery, so make sure you choose a good one! This could be your partner, your mother, etc. And think of something to talk about during the surgery to keep your mind off of what is actually happening down there.

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Speak up if you feel pain or nausea

Be sure to tell your doctor/nurses/anesthesiologist if you are feeling any pain or nausea during the surgery. They will want to make you as comfortable as possible. I was extremely nauseated during my first c-section. I actually vomited several times and blacked out. During my second c-section, I told the surgical team in advance and they gave me extra anti-nausea medication through my IV. I actually made it all the way to the recovery room before I threw up that time (score!).

C-Section Recovery

Now that you are out of the operating room and ready to heal and snuggle that precious new baby, here are some tips to help get you through the coming days/weeks/months.

Walk as soon as permitted and able, and as often as possible during your hospital stay.

With both of my surgeries, I was up and walking by late afternoon (after 8 a.m. procedures) with my catheter out. While it was definitely not easy, it was worth it. It felt good to move and I sincerely believed this is one of the things that helped me to bounce back so quickly.

Stay on top of your pain medication

With my first CS I made the mistake of thinking I “felt OK” and skipped a round of meds…HOLY HELL. The pain came on quick and strong. So I highly recommend taking the alotted dose of pain medication whenever able; at least while you are at the hospital. Once I was home I tapered off the medication after a couple of days.

Take advantage of the assistance available

Get as much rest as you can in the hospital, and take advantage of all the nurses, assistants and other willing to help you. Send baby (babies) to the nursery so you can get some shuteye. Let your partner change those really disgusting first few diapers. Don’t bite off more thank you can chew (I know, easier said than done).

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Understand that you could get the “shakes” or “itchy” as a result of the anesthesia

After both of my operations I experiences extreme chills/convulsions. My whole body shook for quite some time and you could hear my teeth chattering. I was assured this was normal and piled on the blankets and socks until it subsided.

With the twins I got extremely itchy afterward. I told this to my nurse and she added some medication for this to my IV and it really helped.

Wear your Depends!

So comfortable and so convenient. That’s all I have to say on the matter.

Wear your binder often

I’d recommend about 12 hours per day for a few weeks. Not only does it help keep everything in place, it protects your incision and it is amazing how the pressure helps ease the pain. Just wait until you laugh…ouch! It also serves as a constant reminder that you just had MAJOR SURGERY so take it easy.

Take your stool softeners ASAP and religiously

That first #2 after your c-section is a nightmare. I know I never experienced a vaginal birth but I have to imagine the pain was similar to this bowel movement. I cringe just thinking about it (TMI, I know, but you NEED to know). So take those stool softeners and drink loads of fluids to help “move things along”.

Stay hydrated

As mentioned above, drink lots of fluids! I kept a giant cup next to the kitchen sink and would fill it and chug it whenever I thought about needing water or being thirsty. This will definitely aid in the recovery process and is super important if you are breast feeding.

No heavy lifting

Do NOT strain yourself by lifting heavy things. This could cause your incision to rupture which I hear is absolutely no fun at all.

Keep your incision clean and dry

Wash your incision often and then pat it dry when finished to avoid infection.

Wear nightgowns, high-waisted shorts/pants or loose clothing

Wear comfortable clothes that will not irritate your incision. I actually wore maternity pants, leggings and shorts for a couple months because they were so comfortable and did not rub my healing wound.

Limit use of stairs

Just like heavy lifting, stairs can put added strain on your healing body. Avoid them if you can. Set up camp on the couch or in your favorite recliner and only take trips up stairs if absolutely necessary for the first few following your hospital stay.

Be sure to attend your follow-up appointments

This is so important! Be sure to check in with your OBGYN when recommended so that they can ensure you are healing; physically, mentally and emotionally.

I hope that after reading this post you are better prepared for and a little less nervous about your impending or potential c-section. Yes it is scary, but the procedure is very safe and is nothing short of a miraculous way to deliver your child. Good luck mamas, you got this!

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