What Nobody Tells You About Cesareans
More than thirty percent of deliveries result in cesarean sections, a procedure your doctor may recommend when you’re already well into labor to prevent certain risks to you or your baby. Most women don’t expect their delivery to end in a cesarean—typically women imagine the pain of vaginal birth, and how their vagina will never be the same. Having your doctor recommend a cesarean can come as quite a shock. In the urgency of the moment, you likely won’t have the time—let alone the mental energy—to ask questions. Let’s hope your own delivery goes over without a hitch, but it’s better to know about cesareans and not need one than to need one and know nothing about them. Here are things you should know about c-sections.
You can plan yours
Cesareans don’t need to be emergency, last-minute procedures. You and your doctor can actually schedule an elective cesarean if you’d prefer not to go through vaginal delivery—even if it would be perfectly safe.
It may be riskier than vaginal birth
Studies have shown that perfectly healthy women who undergo cesareans are about three times as likely to suffer complications like infections and blood clots as healthy women who have a vaginal birth.
Your weight could increase your chances of a c-section
Women who are overweight are more likely than those of a healthy weight to need a c-section. Obese mothers-to-be can be three times more likely to need the procedure.
You’ll receive anesthesia, but you won’t be under
Your body from your stomach down will be totally numb, but you will not go under for your cesarean (in most cases) so if you’re sensitive to blood, don’t look down!
Your vagina will still be involved
It’s possible for blood to leak through the vagina during a cesarean, so nurses will take precautions to keep you clean down there. Furthermore, you will likely have a catheter during your surgery.
Skin-to-skin bonding may be delayed
While most doctors encourage a new mother to have skin-to-skin contact with her newborn for important bonding, some hospitals discourage this for mothers who undergo cesarean. Some doctors worry about putting a newborn near the anesthesia involved in the procedure.
You should request a blanket
Hospitals aren’t exactly known for their warm and toasty climates. Add to that that you will be nude for at least a half hour for your cesarean, so make sure a nurse or your partner keeps plenty of blankets on hand.
Your stomach will remain numb
The anesthesia may not wear off for several hours after surgery, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t feel your tummy when you touch it.
Breast milk may take longer to kick in
Not much longer, but most women who have a vaginal delivery find that their breast milk is ready-for-serving at three days after giving birth. Meanwhile, women who had a cesarean may need to wait an extra day or two.
You’ll stay in the hospital longer
The average hospital stay for a new mother who went through vaginal delivery is one or two days; the stay for a cesarean patient is around four days.
You could be constipated
Your abdomen cannot handle the pressure and stress of pushing to produce a bowel movement, so you may become a bit constipated until you’re fully healed. Fortunately, there are plenty of products at the pharmacy for that.
You should get a grabber
Aka one of those canes with little pinchers at the end that allows you to pick things up off the ground without bending over. It will hurt to bend over while you’re still healing.
Your scar won’t stay that way
Your scar will look very pronounced in the weeks after the cesarean—it will be raised and red—but it won’t stay that way.
There may be post-partum bleeding
Even though your baby didn’t come out of your vagina, it may still bleed. Keep in mind that a lot still happened inside of your uterus, and it’s shedding some lining now—similar to how it does during your period.
Those pain meds are not optional
Your doctor is not exaggerating regarding post-surgery pain. Take the prescribed amount of medication, and don’t be late with it. Not only will this help prevent terrible discomfort, but it will also make it easier for you to do things that can speed up your recovery, like exercise.