With 1 in 4 women giving birth via c sections (according to the Report on Maternity Data tables 2014 from the Ministry Of Health NZ), I think talk of what happens during and after should be talked about more. And it should never be deemed as ‘the easy way out’.
As having 2 C-sections myself, one emergency and one elective, I can tell you a few things that I’ve found and a few things I wish I was told.
My fist thing is, I wish our antenatal class had not just brushed over the fact that you may have a c-section.
They told us to write a birth plan and portrayed that it would all go (within reason) how you planned and there may be a possibility of having C-section. But that was pretty much as far as it went. It was all talk of natural birth and they liked to make it all roses and sunshine. I get that you don’t want to freaking new mums out, but I would have rather been more prepared for any eventuality.
The surgeon cuts through 7….yes 7 layers of tissue in a C-section. It’s classed as major abdominal surgery and with this there are always risks. But in saying that thousands of C-sections are performed yearly with minimal to no issues.
Most of the major healing is done in the first 3 months, but will continue up to a year post partum.
Enough of that. Anyone can look up stats. For me personally, I had 2 complete different C-section experiences so I’ll go a bit into both.
My first was an emergency. After being induced and in labor for about 4 or 5 hours, bubs heart rate bottomed out, so by emergency I mean from the time they pushed the button in the delivery suite to the time Milena was delivered in surgery, a short 7 mins had elapsed. I am and will always in awe of how fast they get her out. With this there was no time to slowly and carefully open me up. Unfortunately with such an emergency I was put under general anesthetic and I had already had an epidural. Needless to say I was up to my eyeballs in drugs. My healing from this was quite long and hard.
My second was elected and with this a far more calm and careful approach from all parties involved. I definitely bounced back quicker. I feel this has alot to do with the far lesser amount of drugs my body had to endure and that is wasn’t a rush. It was such a surreal experience to be awake as someone is opening you up and carefully bringing your baby into the world. All I felt was small amounts of pressure, which is crazy when I saw the photos of what really happened.
The uspide to my first c-section was I didn’t have a rambunctious toddler to wrangle aswel as a newborn. She didn’t know why I couldn’t pick her up or why she couldn’t climb all over me. Thank goodness my partner was able to take a few weeks off to help.
Here’s a few things I took from my c-sections.
You technically aren’t meant to drive for 6 weeks. Reason they say this is not because you are incapable but that you may be less likely to react accordingly if needed. Like you may hesitate to slam the breaks on because you may consciously or subconsciously not want to hurt your wound.
For me, I got signed off at 4 weeks by my doctor. More because some insurance companies won’t cover you if you have an accident within this timeframe. Check with your provider for more info.
TAKE THE DRUGS!
All I can say is keep on top of your meds for the first couple of weeks at least.
Sneezing, coughing and laughing too hard all feels like your insides have burst through your stitches. Make sure you have a pillow or something similar near by, hold it tight against your wound and lean forward. This elevates the risk of having to pick your innards off the floor (joking of course) but it does make it a whole lot more bareable. I think it was about 3 weeks for me before there was no pain in doing any of the above. Even bowl movements can be a bit rough, kiwicrush can help things not get too….um…solid.
It’s recommended to not lift anything heavier than your newborn and to just rest. Like hell I was going to just sit around when washing and tidying needed to be done. Being in hospital for 5 nights each time forced relaxing upon me which was probably a good thing. One of the hardest things I found was getting out of bed. Try swing your legs out onto the floor first, then prop yourself up on your elbow and kind of roll up. But seriously, if possible just take it easy for at least the first few weeks. Your body will thank you.
I have a new found love of high waisted undies, namely granny panties. You don’t want anything tight or low cut aggravating your wound. Anything lose, high and with a soft waist band is a winner in my books. Even now at 5 months post partum I don’t like having anything rubbing on my scar.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done in the first couple of weeks post without my partner being at home. It made life so much easier. If possible having someone with you or someone you are able to call on with ease will be such a life saver. Even if it’s only to cook up some meals that you can just heat up so you don’t have to worry, is amazing. This is the same no matter how you have given birth. Cooking is the last thing that you can be bothered with in those early newborn days.
Let soapy water run over your wound but do not scrub it. Pat to dry. Keep it as dry as possible at all times. Some people use maternity pads over the wound in the early weeks to draw any moisture away and provide another layer of protection. I used medical strip tape to make sure everything stayed together neatly.
Keep an eye out for any fever, redness in the surrounding skin, oozing, hardening or getting more painful. These could be signs of infection.
Make sure you are resting but keep moving too. Movement helps the body functions to get back into their routine. Getting up as soon as possible after surgery, even though painful, is the best thing for you. That first time getting up usually involves a shower so that’s a pretty good incentive haha. Go for easy walks to start. You can increase intensity of exercise from 6 weeks post partum.
You may think that because you didn’t give birth naturally it should be a breeze getting back into the jiggy side of things and it won’t be uncomfortable. If only. All I can say is LUBE and lots of it. y of giving birth things take time to get back to normal. Even then we all know the tiny cock blocks usually spoil any chance of us getting any.
At the end of the day having a C-section is in no way, shape or form the ‘easy way out’, and makes you no less of a mother.
No matter how your baby arrives, you gave birth.
Birth is only the beginning of this amazing rollercoaster journey we call parenthood.
PS for a badly put together flipgram of my C-section with surgical photos included click here