C-sections are a fairly-common way to deliver your baby; some people actually request them.
No matter how much you think you know about them, nothing can prepare you for major surgery, because your body is unpredictable, and your body isn’t the same as someone else’s.
Everyone heals differently, everyone’s pain tolerance is different, and not every experience is the same. Some people suffer from post-op complications or complications during surgery. No two stories are alike.
Even if you have had a c-section before and know exactly what to expect going into it, your experience may differ from the other.
When I had my c-section, I thought I was pretty-prepared for it. I read up on all things c-sections, asked my doctor multiple questions, I talked to a lot of my friends who have had them; and they gave me some good tips. After my c-section though I couldn’t believe how many things I experienced that no one told me about. I wish I would have known so much more going into it.
8 THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU WHILE GETTING YOUR C-SECTION
1. You will lay on a narrow bed in the operating room. It’s so narrow that it seems like you won’t even fit on it and will fall off. Both of your arms will be stretched out to your sides resting on arm holders attached to the bed.
2. It’s freezing in the operating room, so inform them if you are cold and they will cover you with a warm blanket.
3. Your anesthesiologist will be right by the side of your head the entire time. He’ll be constantly pumping you full of things. Communicate with him what symptoms you are experiencing so he can help make you as comfortable as possible. Certain things he is giving you may sting your arm pretty-badly where your IV is at.
4. Although you are completely numb from your belly down you will definitely feel pressure and tugging on your abdomen. It isn’t painful, but it’s uncomfortable and a weird feeling.
5. You may become extremely nauseous during the surgery and may even throw up. Throwing up laying down with your head turned to the side is the worst sensation. I don’t know if it was the medication along with all the other stuff my body was being pumped full of, but the taste of my throw-up was metallic and it felt like I was throwing up small, metal balls. It was terrible! **Warning to your birthing partner. You will be the one suctioning out the throw up from your partners mouth.** Oh, my poor husband! I felt so bad for him. It was disgusting. I threw up 3 or 4 times during surgery too.
6. There will be a ton of hospital staff in the operating room with you. You will be completely exposed. It’s really strange being awake while you’re being operated on. It’s weird to see everyone working and listening to them talking while you just lay there open on the table. Your surgeons will be talking over you like you’re not even there. You know, like in all the medical shows how they talk about everyday life while operating. Yep! That’s what they do! My doctor was talking about a vacation she’s been on recently and one that was coming up she was looking forward to.
7. You may feel tired and loopy. I remember laying there and I just wanted to go to sleep. I was so tired and nauseated. It felt like my body and mind wasn’t completely present. It was a weird feeling.
8. Once you’re done, your doctor will most likely tell you, “Everything went great! Congratulations!” They’ll leave the room and you won’t see them again until the next day when they do rounds. I don’t know why, but this shocked me. It was like once my babies were out that was that! HAHA! I mean obviously I didn’t expect her to hang around, but it was weird to me.
15 THINGS NO ONE TELLS YOU AFTER HAVING A C-SECTION
1. You will be numb for awhile afterwards. You’ll probably be tired, loopy, nauseous, and just won’t be feeling great. I felt all these things. I was pretty-nauseous and threw up a couple more times afterwards. I felt lousy the following days also, I experienced nausea, vomiting, and horrible diarrhea, which was a nightmare trying to get to the bathroom in time with all the pain from my incision. I had no appetite, but I was starving. I was so tired. Sleeping in the hospital is practically impossible and with how much pain I was in sleeping wasn’t happening regardless. My babies were in NICU after my c-section, so I didn’t have that responsibility at the time, but I did have to pump every 3 hours.
2. You may experience “the shakes.” This is caused because of your epidural. You will involuntarily shake (can be a light shiver to severe shaking) for a while afterwards until your anesthesia wears off. Keeping yourself warm can help with this.
3. You may experience severe itchiness throughout your body right after surgery until your anesthetic wears off. I remember the sensation of my itchiness wasn’t normal itchy, it was more like a stinging throughout my body. They said this is due to the anesthesia. They prescribed me something to help.
4. Nursing your baby or pumping at the beginning causes your uterus to contract and is uncomfortable regardless on how you deliver your baby, but when you deliver by c-section nursing/pumping is way worse. Holding your baby in the football hold position is the best way to not irritate your incision. Place a nursing pillow on your lap away from your incision and put your baby in the football hold position, you may need help doing this for a while, then start nursing. It will hurt no matter what you do, but it will get better with time.
5. You will probably experience a lot of swelling in your legs, feet, face, and hands due to all the fluids they pumped you full of. Drinking lots of water and walking around will help flush it out.
6. 2-4 hours after your catheter is out they will ask you to get up and go to the bathroom, if you haven’t already. This first time out of bed will hurt more than any labor pain you’ve ever experienced. You will not be able to stand up straight, walking will hurt. Getting on and off the toilet, even going to the bathroom will hurt so bad!
7. You will still have postpartum bleeding with a c-section, and you still can’t put anything inside you until 6 weeks post-op. So, the mesh panties and diaper pads you’ll use at the hospital. If you can take some of those mesh panties home that would be great because they won’t rub on your incision and will hold your pads in when you’re home. Your bleeding won’t be as heavy as it would be with a vaginal birth, but you will still definitely have bleeding for up to 6 weeks.
8. They will highly advise you to start walking around 12 hours post-op. This was so hard for me. I was in so much pain and my body just didn’t feel ready to start walking around yet (I wasn’t getting pain meds at this point though, only Tylenol, so I was in a ton of pain!) Getting in and out of bed to go to the bathroom was hard enough for me. Thank heavens for those hospital beds that raise you up to get in and out of bed easier. Once you’re home, you won’t have this, unless you have one of those fancy beds. Try sleeping in a reclining chair for a while, this helped me. I slept there for 3 weeks and the first time I slept in my bed it was so uncomfortable and painful. When you do sleep in your bed and need to get out, roll over onto your side and pull yourself up slowly with your arm, then pull your legs over the side of the bed, then stand. This should help a little with the pain.
9. Peeing, pooping, laughing, coughing, and sneezing will hurt…A LOT…for at least two weeks! I have no advice for peeing and pooping, besides keeping up with stool softeners, laxatives, and drinking lots of water. This pain is hard to explain, but it hurts your incision and uterus so badly when you go to the bathroom. It’s like you can feel it all moving through your system. You feel like your incision site is going to burst open! When you go pee, you may experience burning/stinging; and/or the sensation of your bladder not feeling empty once you’ve gone, it’s so annoying, but it will get better with time. Laughing, coughing, and sneezing…HURTS, try supporting your incision with a pillow or your hand to stop it from being so painful. Belly bands can help a lot to support your abs and incision.
10. Gas pains! You may experience horrific gas pain and releasing your gas will hurt and be really uncomfortable. You may even feel your gas pains in your shoulders and back. I know weird, but seriously, your shoulder and back may ache due to gas. Try anti-gas meds and see if that will help relieve it. Drinking lots of water and walking around will also help keep your bowels active.
11. Your shoulders and back pain could be from your epidural as well. Your back may feel really tender from your epidural. You may even experience a pretty bad headache afterwards. Rest lots; and keep up with your pain meds.
12. You may be left with something called a c-section “shelf.” This is uneven scar tissue that creates a little shelf above your incision. You may notice more tenderness and swelling on that side of your incision than the other. The scar tissue should soften over time; but may never disappear completely. I have this on my right side of my incision and it’s been almost two years now and it’s still the same.
13. Tingling, itching, and numbness along the scar is normal. It’s terrible, but normal. This happens because of your doctor cutting through layers of skin, tissue, and nerves. Its’ not unusual for this to last for several years. My doctor calls these “zingers.” I truly hate them. It’s been almost two years since my c-section and I still can’t be touched on my scar. It sends an instant jolt of tingling/zings in my incision spot, and a little above it, it’s no fun!
14. Your scar might freak you out. It could be kind of gnarly. It may have thicker scar tissue in areas and it may be bumpy and thick in some spots. Some areas may be more tender than other areas.
15. Everyone heals differently and bounces back from a c-section at their own pace. Give yourself at least 6-8 weeks to fully heal and feel back to yourself again. When I hit 5 weeks I really started feeling good again.
There you have it! I really hope this is helpful! I know it would have made a HUGE difference for me to have a list like this before I had my c-section. Obviously, you can’t stop these things from happening, but at least you will know what’s coming, how to handle it better, and that’s it’s normal.
For more information to prepare you for a c-section go HERE.