I was around 32-34 weeks pregnant when I found out that my baby was in a breech position. My doctor calmly explained that there was a high likelihood that I would need a c-section because he was sitting breech so late in my pregnancy and because he was such a big baby. I really didn’t hear anything she said after “you’ll probably need a c-section” and upon leaving her office, I ugly-cried in my car for about 20 minutes.
I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to get to have a “normal” birth. I was cruuuuuuuushed.
So, I was going to have a c-section. I started googling furiously. I wanted to know what a c-section was like and exactly what the procedure was. What I found really scared me. There are lots of blog posts out there about different women’s c-section experiences, and each person’s experience is unique. However, most of the blogs I read, those women’s experiences weren’t great.
Let me tell you about mine.
First, let’s assume that you’ve read about what happens during a c-section. It’s surgery—your abdomen is open on an operating table and people have their hands inside of you. It’s no walk in the park, but it’s not a completely debilitating either.
I went in for my scheduled c-section in November of 2013. The night before, my husband and I went out for a lovely dinner, came back, spent one final quiet evening together, and went to bed. In the morning, I got up and showered, did my hair, put on some make-up (because, let’s be honest, first photos) and we headed to the hospital.
There’s paperwork, there’s meeting doctors, there’s getting gowned up, there’s a spinal, a catheter blah blah blah.
Then you have a c-section. Since our son was breech, his head was the last thing to come out. Now, I couldn’t feel or see a thing, I just laid on the other side of that sterile drape with my husband waiting to hear that first cry. When it finally came, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. They wrapped him up and I got to hold him almost right away. (After the cleaning up, cord cutting, etc.) I got to hold him the entire time they stitched me up and I was wheeled to recovery. Our doctor snapped our first family photo.
I had some pain in my shoulder right after they pulled my son out (this can happen), but one of the OR nurses massaged it for me and worked out moving it around a bit to keep me more comfortable. I spent some time in the recovery area and then got moved into my hospital room.
I spent the afternoon relaxing and holding my baby. I still had the catheter in because my spinal was still wearing off. (How thoughtful of them to not let me pee myself.) Once the spinal wore off, I took my first lap around the maternity ward. My husband (who is a doctor) told me that I could take the day off if I wanted to, but one of the key elements of a speedier recovery is to get your body moving. I took my first walk just a few hours after my surgery. It was a slow, and careful walk, but a walk nonetheless.
I was also finally also able to have clear liquids—I was so thirsty! However, be sure to pace yourself. I say this, because I didn’t. (I’ll spare you the details, but it wasn’t pleasant.) One of the current rules about open abdominal surgeries is no solid foods until you pass gas. I delivered my son on a Tuesday and wasn’t able to eat until 1 am on Thursday morning. Definitely pack snacks! It’s hard to order take out at 1 am.
As Wednesday and Thursday went on, I kept walking with my son every day—a few laps around the maternity ward 2-3 times a day. I also took a shower and padded around the hospital room. I think the hardest part of those first few days was getting up and laying down, but it wasn’t terrible.
C-section babies are sometimes slow to start nursing and mine definitely was. He showed very little interest on day 1, and not much on day 2 or 3. I started to panic a bit. The hospital provided me with a pump and I began pumping to get things going. However, before we left the hospital, we did supplement with formula.
We left the hospital on a Friday morning. When we got home, I made lunch and unpacked my bag. I wasn’t too sore or stiff, but I was careful. I took another glorious shower and settled in to take care of our new little one. By the time my family showed up for Thanksgiving two weeks later, I was pretty much back to normal.
Here are some things that I found helpful during my pregnancy and c-section recovery:
1 – I exercised throughout my entire pregnancy. I know this was a HUGE help in making my recovery so smooth.
2 – I got moving as soon as I could after my c-section and kept moving. Just 2-3 short walks around the hospital floor a few times a day made a huge difference.
3 – Staying hydrated. I drank lots of water—lots.
4 – I stayed ahead of my pain. I took all of my pain meds on schedule. I also started stool softeners in the hospital. The pain pills the hospital provides really helped manage my pain very well, but I can’t say it did the same for my bowels.
5 – I ate plenty of good, nutritious foods once I was cleared for solids. Nursing takes a lot of calories, so eat up!
If you’re facing the possibility of the c-section, I hope that reading a positive experience helps!