6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Having a C-Section

409 Comments

c-section

My first son was delivered via c-section at 35 weeks after an ultrasound revealed he ceased growing due to placenta previa. I knew early on in my pregnancy that it was a possibility I wouldn’t be able to deliver vaginally, but being in denial, I never bothered to ask what the recovery process was life if I did indeed go under the knife.

I figured, by comparison to pushing a baby out and getting ripped from the rooter to the tooter, a c-section would be a cake walk.

Sitting in my OB’s office, hearing that I was heading over to surgery and would have a baby by happy hour, I was scared and ill-prepared.  I didn’t know what I was in for, exactly. I just figured they’d wheel me in, I’d lay there like a corpse, and then hours later I’d be sitting up in bed, holding a baby, looking glowing and happy in an adorable robe like Rachel in Friends.

Sucker.

This is, after all, major surgery. I mean, my husband saw my intestines being pulled out, for crying out loud. If that doesn’t buy you a night out by yourself when the baby is older, I don’t know what will.

If you’re thinking that a c-section is a possibility for your next birth, perhaps my ignorance can spare you a few headaches and worry. Here are some things I learned:

1. The operating room is as cold as the polar ice caps and the stuff they put in your IV only makes it worse. With my first c-section I was shaking so much I was convinced the anesthesiologist would miss his target with the spinal block and I’d come out of surgery a paraplegic. I had absolutely no idea my body was capable of shimming that fast. Watch out, Shakira, those hips don’t lie. They’re scared shitless.

2. Think you won’t feel a thing? Think again. While you won’t feel them cutting or feel pain, no one told me I’d feel all this tremendous pulling as they pried my son out of my body cavity. My OB warned me “Okay, you might feel some slight pressure.” Slight? This is not a flu shot, people. I don’t call the sensation of someone yanking a bowling ball out of my loins a slight sensation.

3. Don’t say no to drugs. They get you pretty doped up in surgery and at first I willingly took the hard core pain meds they give me. But at around 28 hrs post surgery I felt pretty good and though “Nah, I’ll skip meds this shift.” Bad idea.  Worst idea I’ve ever had. You’re not only dealing with the pain of getting your insides ripped open and sewn back together, but you’ve also being visited post-delivery cramping because the baby isn’t paying rent anymore. They tell you to stay one step ahead of the pain. I prefer to be a football field ahead.

4. Your ability to laugh like a normal human being will be put on hold. Ditto for sneezing, pooping and coughing.  The advice is to hold a pillow over your incision if you need to perform any of these actions, and though it may help a tiny bit, you’ll still find yourself making modifications. Your sneezes will become the tiny, restrained kind that only Disney Princesses can attain. While in the hospital with my son, my husband cracked a hilarious remark that caused my body to produce such a high-pitched hyena snicker that the nurses went running to call the psych ward.

5. Think your intestinal tract was screwed up when you were pregnant? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. With my son, I didn’t take a dump for seven days. SEVEN. POOPLESS. DAYS. Mass quantities of fiber didn’t get things moving along. Five days after delivery I finally got the urge and 50 sweaty minutes later, I came up empty. It was as if the kids climbed up the ladder of the high dive, tip-toed out to the edge of the board, took one look down and said “No way in hell, lady” then made the slow, shameful climb back down. Arm yourself with some goodies like apricot nectar and prune juice.  Think “retirement home beverages”.

6. The area around your scar will never, ever, ever get feelings back. The skin around my incisions still has very few nerve endings, four years after my last c-section. That area will still get itches that I can’t scratch, but I power on, digging at it like a meth addict. I have high hopes I might regain sensation, but at this point, I have as much chance as Lindsay Lohan staying out of jail.

Yet, despite knowing all this, after my first born, I still had another baby via cesarean. Being prepared for what was to come definitely helped ease my jitters. That, and sneaking a case of prune juice in my overnight bag.

Comments

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    • 2

      Nicole says

      That was funny!! And true. I’ve had four C-sections. It did get easier with each one. I can’t imagine doing it any other way now. Pushing a bowling ball through my Vajajay never sounded like much fun. Thanks for the laughs.

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    • 3

      Jenn says

      I’m jealous! I’m guessing it was the pregnancy itself that did me in, as I can’t sneeze, laugh, or cough without leaking, and it’s been 3 years since my last baby was born (they were both c-sections).

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    • 6

      Melissa says

      YES! I totally agree with you Jen. I had my son via C-section and my husband says as am tight down there as pre baby. I also have never once peed when I sneezed or coughed. Those are the ONLY consolation prizes tho. I too have no feeling in my stomach 3yrs post partum & get the “itches you can’t scratch” b/c there is no feeling. And I’m left with a glorious fat over-hang that is prone to topical yeast infections along my scar during hot weather. Sexy.

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      • 7

        Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

        The itch thing drives me crazy. While I don’t have the shelf of skin over my scar as badly as I thought I would, the fact that I have no feeling there gives me the willies.

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      • 8

        Mary says

        See I had my son vaginally and the funny part about that is, I was the only woman in the whole Maternity ward that did so. I was also the youngest. Even funnier, I tore a little bit in delivery, and afterwards? I was TIGHTER down there than Before, AND i got to avoid that nasty incision scar, keeping all my tummy nerves in tact. The myths about vaginally delivery? mostly just that, myths.

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        • 9

          Nicole says

          I didn’t tear at all during my delivery, and I’m still plenty tight too. It looks a little weird, but the elasticity didn’t change at all. Basically, I’m agreeing with you.

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        • 10

          Ann says

          Mary, that’s so awesome that you’re able to dispel all of the “myths” surrounding vaginal delivery after that one vaginal birth you had! I guess all the women experiencing the “hotdog through a hallway” phenomenon, loss of bladder control, etc are just saying those things for no reason.

          I read your comment to my husband and he teared up. Our first son was born by C-section after a very long, failed attempt at a vaginal delivery due to misdiagnosed deep transverse arrest, and we were lucky that there were only minor complications. As my husband said, “I’d take those ‘myths’ any day over what we went through.”

          Also, you can take your “nasty incision scar” comment and shove it.

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      • 12

        says

        So true in the summer the dunlaps as my mom calks it causes so many topical yeast problems I could scream but there is thus stuff called eltaseal that us absolutely perfect gets rid of it un 24 hours

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    • 15

      HappyMommy says

      I’ve had two babies vaginally and my husband says that I am tighter…might be because of the small tears I got and being stitched back up, but there are no complaints.

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    • 16

      Amy says

      While you are laying down after delivery be aware that alot of afterbirth will come out. Always rub your incision while heavily medicated. I’ve had two and have feeling all around my scar which is only 1 inch long. Use plenty of vitamin E oil! REST while you have nurses there to help. Take your pain pills and stay ahead of the pain. Especially for the trip home! Ask for glue instead of stitches. I cleaned and vacuumed two days after getting home rested then went dancing at my brother in laws wedding. Every c section is different pamper yourself while you can! :)

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      • 17

        Courtney says

        I totally agree with you Amy. I had a csection 3 yrs ago and was up moving around 2 days later. I didn’t have most of the issues listed in the article. Every csection is different. I was actually up hold my daughter within the hr she was born. And taking a shower by myself in 24 hrs. I too stayed a head of the pain meds and rested when the nurses were in. During surgery there was slight pressure but not horrible. Over all i had no choice she was breach and i would have one again.

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  1. 18

    Nuts about food says

    Yup, had two of those myself. All sounds familiar.
    I remember the first time, the day I was supposed to leave the hospital (Christmas day by the way), I didn’t take the laxative I had been handed because I thought I was already overmedicated and didn’t want to take yet another thing. When the dr dropped by to sign the papers to let me go home he asked me (in front of a roomful of people) if had… ahem… evacuated. I said no and he told me I wouldn’t be allowed to go home until I did, probably the next day.
    The hormones were already taking their toll and images of another sleepless, painful night in the hospital and of the whole family waiting at home to celebrate Christmas lunch with us started the tears. I wailed so much a nurse came in and passed me a glycerin suppository when no-one was looking so an hour later, I was out of there! So yes, drink all the prune juice you can.

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    • 19

      Julie says

      The worst is that they don’t let you eat until you either pass gas or poop, and like the blog author, it took me DAYS before this happened. If not for the immense pain searing through my lower abdomen, I would have murdered a few nurses! My second time around, at a different hospital, they actually TRIED to get the process to move faster by giving me laxatives and all that, whereas the first hospital would do nothing of the sort.
      It’s also a good idea to keep taking the laxative as long as you are on the pain meds b/c those actually cause constipation, which can be equally as painful as the c-section at times!

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      • 20

        Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

        After the 2nd delivery, the nurse happened to explain casually why they won’t let you eat until you’ve passed gas. And I was terrified to eat a meal after that. What if I hadn’t actually farted and now my intestines were all a jumbled mess? Horrifying…I left with stool softeners, laxatives, everything short of an enema.

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  2. 21

    claire says

    Thanks for the morning laugh. After my last C-section, I kept asking for blankets. Since they keep their blankets in a warmer, I left the ER with three covering my still-numb, still shaking body.

    And every time someone made me laugh after my section, I always yelled out “STITCHES Ow!”

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  3. 22

    Zooy says

    Ah this brings back memories. My stomach still has very little feeling down near the scar.
    Also I was stupid and tried to recover too fast, this probably didn’t help my post partum depression but I was determined to not have anyone look after me. If I have to have a csection next time, I’ll be doing things differently.

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  4. 23

    Ange says

    I didn’t have a c-section & I have no issues with “tightness.” For all the reasons above and others I’ve read about, I’ve very glad I had the midwife I did & she was able to avoid a c-section for me (my labor wasn’t progressing well at first and it looked like it was going that way.)

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  5. 24

    Liz says

    I hear you, people talk about getting a c-section because it will be so much better than pushing a baby out. Are they crazy, I would have given anything to not have to pull or roll myself out of bed. Just when you think you get to sleep relatively normal again, forget it, I couldn’t sleep on my stomach even without a baby in there, totally sucked!!!

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    • 26

      Brandi says

      I had 3 kids vaginally, and was planning on my fourth but he came early with placenta previa so I had to. IT was a nightmare. I would not have chosen it if I didn’t have to. But the Dr did a great job and the nurses at the hospital helped me get back on my feet pretty quickly. I do say it was not fun, but I am just glad he is here and safe.

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  6. 30

    Melissa says

    Well my original birth plan was a joke!! I wanted to deliver vaginally but it just wasn’t happening. After being in labor for 3 days my Dr finally decided to perform a c section with my first. I was so terrified that something like that might happen again (although I had a different OB/GYN and a different hospital) I didn’t even bother asking about a vbac for my 2nd!! Not to mention with baby #2 my water broke 2 days before I was scheduled to have him and for the 8 I sat in the triage waiting for my dr to get me into the OR I didn’t have a single contraction!! So I just came to the conclusion that my body doesn’t want me having babies through the va-jay. And I’m ok with that, especially since I had my tubes tied while I was on that operating table.

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    • 31

      Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

      My OB did ask me when I was open if I wanted a tubal ligation, but it all felt too new and raw to make a decision. In retrospect? One stop shopping sounds kind of nice…

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      • 32

        Melissa says

        The hospital I had #2 at is a Catholic hospital and I had to have approval from the board of Nuns before it could be done, so my tubal was planned months before I had him. My husband and I both discussed and thought about it for a while and just knew that 2 was enough for us. I don’t have any regrets =). Everyone’s different and for those who want more than 2 kids (and actually take care of them) more power to ya! After already having one (who was 3 when #2 came) and knowing the costs of having another baby, affordability was a big factor in our decision. I looked at how much it will cost us to put 2 kids through college and about pooped my pants! I’m glad we just had the 2. =)

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  7. 33

    Jenny says

    Mine was an emergancy section and was terrifying, I’m now 40+ weeks with number 2 and have to go on friday for a section if this lil girl doesn’t show up.

    I wish I hadn’t been so blind to the fact that I could wind up having a section the first time and done some reading about it. I’m not looking forward to the new scar itching at all :(

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    • 34

      Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

      Good luck! I think it’s easier the second time around, knowing what to expect. And I think recovery was easier as well. Still, it took 5 days to poop and 4 days for my milk to come in. I guess there’s just some things my body is slow to react to.

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    • 35

      Mercy says

      My first was also an emergency and I had not read up on it or prepared myself so it was a terrifying experience. I agree that it is easier the 2nd (and 3rd) time around because you already know what to expect and can prepare accordingly.

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      • 36

        Jenny says

        I’m still holding out hope that she’ll come before Friday but she seems to be stubborn like her mummy :)
        The strange thing is that the only thing I’m even nervous about is the epidural/spinal even though I’ve had one and didn’t have any issues with it the first time O.o
        I guess your mind just picks one thing to focus on and that is mine.
        Fingers crossed this time will be a bit easier :)

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  8. 37

    Bridget says

    I guess everyon’es experience is different. I felt NO pressure (even though I thought I would), my scar feels fine these days (11 months pp) and I took very LITTLE pain meds. However, I did have TERRIBLE nausea and can agree 100% on the “modifications” you’ll make to things like laughing or coughing. And standing up straight for the first week.

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    • 39

      shanna says

      same here, my first one was an emergency and i was pretty drugged up so i don’t remember much but i never had that much pain, my sec one i had almost no pain and was trick or treating with my older daughter a week later. the only problems i had with both c sections are the bowel obstructions after but i know now that a laxative and enema will take care of that problem

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  9. 41

    Starla says

    I’ve had two, the first was emergency and they had me so drugged up there are a couple of days where I only remember just tidbits, I was there for a week after. But something that happened after the second that I do not remember from the first, is the nurse massaging your uterus…HOLY SHIT LADY I JUST HAD SURGERY DOWN THERE!!!! Pretty sure the last time it was done, right before they discharged me btw, that BITCH was trying to make my belly button touch my spine! That was def. The worse part of the whole ordeal, for me anyway. And the incision did seem to stay sore longer the second time around.

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    • 42

      Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

      My nurse had me doing that as well. It’s supposed to help, uh, expel all that “stuff” that would have come out during a vaginal delivery and help get your uterus shrink back to size. Hurts like hell, but I think it helps in the long run.

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  10. 43

    Mary says

    I used to be embarrassed about having 2 emergency C-sections (as if I could have controlled the circumstances of our children’s development and my body’s reaction to them) until I heard a comedian describe his own Cesarian birth this way, “Most folks use the door, I used the window”.

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  11. 45

    Lizzy says

    I really didn’t think a c-section was bad, at all. No tearing, no pee accidents, and I was driving and walking around within a week without issue.

    I describe the c-section baby removal as feeling as though I was a purse someone’s rummaging through to find keys at the bottom. No pain, just weird feelings.

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  12. 53

    Rebecca says

    It’s all true. Nevertheless, we love our babies no matter how they get here.

    I had a lonnnnggg labor with my first baby (as in two days long) so I had to have a c-section. Even if I could have pushed her out, I was too exhausted to do so. But that tough labor and c-section made the initial few weeks soooo hard. I couldn’t lift the baby myself. I was in a lot of pain. The surgeon had nicked my bladder and made me wear a catheter for TWO WEEKS! I think the trauma was part of the cause of the pain and difficulty I had getting breastfeeding started. And the emotional trauma of the whole thing affected bonding and caused some postpartum depression.

    I just had my second baby and am so blessed to have had doctors who supported me in getting a VBAC. (I’ll admit in the middle of pushing, I was tempted to forget all of the above and tell them to “just cut the baby out of me” though!) My recovery has been insanely better. Emotionally, physically, everything…I didn’t even begin to approach recovered until 8 weeks postpartum with first baby. At six weeks postpartum after second baby, I feel great.

    That part about the poops though…those are perhaps even more painful with vaginal childbirth. Holy hemorrhoids, Batman! Nevertheless, there are so many other benefits to vaginal delivery that I’ll take it!:-)

    I hope your post won’t scare ladies who HAVE to get a c-section. If you’re prepared for what it’s like and have a good support system, it can be ok. You get through it. You do what you have to do. But avoiding major surgery if you can is always a good idea.

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    • 54

      Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

      I agree. Vaginal delivery wasn’t an option for me, but up until I had that defining ultrasound, I was armed with my birth plan. And I hope this post doesn’t scare people either. I was alone and unaware of ANYTHING, so all of this came as a shock. Looking back, I wish I’d done more research about c-sections. I guess I just figured if I kept my head down and kept preparing for a vaginal birth, my will would make it happen.

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      • 55

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  13. 56

    Lauren says

    I have to say, I did have a c-section (not by choice) by my experience wasn’t as dreadful as yours. Maybe I just got lucky. I have the best dr in the world and he made it as stress free and pleasent as a surgery could possibly be. I was up that night going to the bathroom on my own. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t tickle but obviously everyones experience is different.

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    • 57

      Gina Jacobs Thomas (@totallyfullofit) says

      I do think that the situation you’re in makes a difference. With my second,I knew I was going to have a c-section, and it wasn’t an emergency situation, so the energy about it was different. As was the recovery. With my son, he was in the NICU and I couldn’t nurse, which probably didn’t help with hormones either.

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    • 58

      pamela says

      I am like you my first who is 33 was vaginal….my second who weighted 10 pounds 9 oz ..is 25 …He was my c section ..i do not suffer from any bladder conditions…and do not pee my pants [I am also a runner]..I did have the itchy thing and God only knows when it stopped because I don’t remember when it did …lol..The feeling does come back not sure when that happened either…I too must have had a GREAT Dr. …I will say I do suffer from a little pouch that hangs over and bothers me but I buy swimwear to hide it…lol…And to compare the two neither was dreadful ..or as I stated earlier I have FORGOTTEN…also my babies are 9 years apart….

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  14. 59

    TheMomFactor says

    I had 3 vaginal births and was back on my feet within an hour of each. I was bored and walking around the Maternity ward for two days trying to make the nurses and other moms laugh. I don’t envy the ladies that get c-sections. My vagina won’t ever be the same, but I think I got it pretty damn easy.

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  15. 60

    Tisa says

    Eek, don’t forget the (evil) nurse who comes in to give the deep tissue “massage” to the incision area to make sure uterus is shrinking and avoid clotting.Evil winch. I know I’m deep down thankful but that is the part that makes me whimper and cry remembering. I don’t get to take the good pain meds (deathly allergic). I remember the pain with both kids, well. :-(

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    • 61

      Jessica says

      I had general anesthesia for my c-section, and when I woke up, I had the nurse’s wrists in my hands, and she was pleading for me to let her go! Even before I woke up I was trying to stop that massage!

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  16. 63

    Aging Darling says

    So true! Mine was an emergency C-section in another country and they wheeled the shiny silver incubator up beside me so I could see everything happening on the other side of the curtain. I remember looking over in horror thinking “Oh my god are those my intestines piled up on my chest?” They were. They sent me home 22 hours later with just Advil and penicillin. Thankfully I had no clue what could go wrong. Ignorance is bliss. As I’m preparing for a second in a couple months everyone promises it will be better in America. Fingers crossed!

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    • 64

      Natalie says

      I just wrote a post below about my sister in law having a c-section in Germany just a few days ago. Read it. It’s number 28. American c-sections are so much better. Do not refuse the pain meds.

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  17. 65

    Liz w says

    My spinal wore off too soon with my last c section! i felt way more then just pressure it was not cool. Add to that having a cough from post nasal drip!! My doc had me on pain meds and cough meds. The nurses had no idea how I was not crying with how much I was coughing and nearly crapped themselves when I got out of bed and got dressed 5 hours post c section.

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