Things They Don’t Tell You About C-Sections

Newborn is crying

Two moms could go through the exact same procedure, performed exactly the same way by exactly the same doctor, and still have completely different birth stories and experiences.

For some women, the catheter is the most uncomfortable part of the whole shebang. For others, it’s that loss of control from the epidural or spinal. Some women get sick to their stomachs. Some feel on top of the world. The one thing we can all agree on is that it’s never apples to apples!

But — as with all things parenting — it’s still good to have a heads up from someone who has been there and done that.

If you’re about to undergo a C-Section, there are some facts that are worth knowing up-front. I share these learnings in the hopes that they’ll make your experience a little smoother and a little calmer. If they make you feel a smidge more in control when go-time comes, I’ve done my job.

1. You go some parts alone. That sounds scarier than I mean for it to. But many women worry about the spinal, and hope to squeeze their significant other’s hand when it is administered. Be prepared that your significant other isn’t actually allowed in the operating room until surgery begins. So you will have already gotten your spinal by then, and will have to rely on a friendly nearby nurse for hand-squeezing.

2. You’re numb from the chest down. I don’t know what I expected, or if this will alarm anyone else. But when the spinal hits (which is incredibly quickly), most of your body goes numb. As in, you can’t even feel that you have a body. Of course you don’t want to be feeling much of anything during such a surgery, but the lack of control can be very alarming. You’ll be tempted to try and move your legs, or exert yourself somehow, but you won’t be able to. It’s not a feeling that I know you can prepare for, other than knowing it’s coming, and that it wears off in a few hours.

3. It takes a while. There’s nobody more aware of your ginormous baby bump than you. You’re pretty attached to it, and you’ve seen how a few good kicks from your little one can shift the entire thing from one side to the other. So it’s a bit alarming when your surgery starts, and you’re waiting…and waiting…and waiting. It takes nearly a half hour in most cases to actually reach the baby and introduce them to the world. Hang tight in the meantime. Everything’s okay!

4. You’re not done yet. It takes about another half hour for surgery to conclude before you’re wheeled into recovery and reunited with your new bundle. Your significant other (or whomever you decide to have in the operating room with you) will exit with the baby while your doctor finishes up. You’ll rejoin them both in recovery.

5. You’re still not done. You’ll be in recovery for a while. A few hours or so. Meanwhile, your nurse will be pushing on your abdomen pretty regularly (and pretty hard) to release any clots. You won’t feel most of it, but you will see lots of blood. This can be shocking, but it’s part of the process for everyone, post C-Section.

In my experience, recovery wasn’t as brutal as I’d imagined it to be. It’s not comfortable by any means, but I think the adjustment to new motherhood is much more of a transition and much more emotionally and physically draining.

I guess the last thing to know is that the incision area may feel numb. You might never get full feeling back in that particular area. But it is really small, the scars are nothing like they used to be, and you come out of it all with the biggest, best gift that this world has to offer.

Good luck, mama bear!

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