When I was pregnant, I did everything right (exercised, ate healthy, avoided “dangers” like deli meat and blue cheese dressing, avoided alcohol, etc.) yet at my 39 week appointment, the baby still hadn’t engaged. “Give it time,” said my doctor. “It will happen soon.” OK – I’ll drink the Kool-Aid and believe you.
Suddenly I was in labor. (Well, not all that sudden. It started at 3:00 a.m. and I didn’t realize it was labor until about 5:30 a.m. when I was having trouble doing my warm-up for my workout DVD. Duh.) By 7:00 a.m. I was in observation, the room they make you go in before they decide if you can stay or have to go home. I got the stay! Hooray for contractions! (Mine started and stayed about 2 minutes apart from the get go.) Then came my doctor who said, “Baby still doesn’t seem to have dropped, let’s do a quick ultrasound to be sure.” Sure enough – breech. Stinker!
With her head snuggled well behind the placenta, there was no really hope to turn her and the contractions were HURTING so we agreed that a C-section was the best option. Suddenly I sat there laboring in the observation room by myself. Hubby was off changing into scrubs and the medical team was all getting prepped for surgery. I used that free moment to call my mom. Her words when I told her I was having a C-section? “Oh honey, I’m sorry.” All of a sudden I was kind of a mess. Excited yes, but starting to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good thing.
Most women I know are aware that a C-section is a possibility. Labor is unpredictable, after all. Few of us though take the time to really research and understand it. My biggest regret was not knowing what to expect AFTER the surgery. To help prevent you from falling into my footsteps, here are a few of the things I wish I had known, and now I will for next time!
You can’t sit up. You’re not dumb, nor am I. I realize this is a surgical operation, but I was still surprised that I couldn’t really sit up – even after returning home. I slept propped up with pillows so I could get out of bed to respond to baby’s needs. If I laid flat, my husband had to wake up to “shove” me out of bed.
Just like a vaginal delivery, all that was in must come out. With all of the pushing moms do to squeeze that baby out. You would expect a lot of, you know, drainage. With a C-section it is really no different except you didn’t stretch it all our down there so maybe you won’t be as sore? I don’t know, never pushed out a baby. All I know is you still get a plastic “squirt” bottle to do what they call peri-care. In other words, spray warm water all over your nether regions to clean it up before you’re mobile enough for a shower. Awesome.
Catheters. In a previous post I mentioned you need to check your modesty at the door. No doubt. I actually knew my surgical tech on a personal level and asked that someone else put in my catheter. There are just some things friends don’t need to do for each other. Don’t worry, they will wait until you’re good and numb before placing that sucker. Then a nurse will come in when you least expect it and remove it (probably 12+ hours later) when you are expected to be able to walk yourself to the bathroom. Oy. I remember that catheter offering a nice reprieve from the CONSTANT runs to the bathroom you experience those last few weeks. They may also “threaten” that if you don’t go #1 on your own in a certain time frame they will re-cath you. Pass the water!
Nausea. I am one of those lucky people who never be addicted to pain killers – they make me so ill. I was doing just fine throughout the surgery, heard baby cry, Hubby left to cut the cord, etc. All of a sudden I told the anesthetist, “I’m gonna be sick.” All I could do was turn my head a let ‘er rip. All. Over. My. Face. In recovery they helped clean me up but man, I was a MESS. (See photo above.) Luckily, once I was in my room the nice nurses gave me some magic drug to stop the queasiness. Vomiting with a six-inch slice in your abdomen don’t mix. They will also tell you to hold a pillow against your incision when you cough or sneeze. Take this advice.
Nurses still want you to breastfeed right away. I was literally in Recovery for minutes, long enough for the nurse and husband to bathe the baby, then they handed her to me and encouraged me to breastfeed. I had NO IDEA what I was doing, but they were helpful and let me take it at my own pace. One thing I would recommend is to try different holds. Football worked best on one side and cross-cradle o the other. This may change as baby grows; it did for me. Football was nice though, as it kept pressure off the incision.
Try to walk the next day. I took baby out in her bassinet for a few laps around the birthing center a couple of times each day. Using the bassinet helped me stay upright and the walking just felt good after being in bed all the time.
Showers are frightening! You will fear the death droplets of water. Fear they will tear you open if they touch your incision. Rest assured, you’ll be fine. Some warm water running over that cut will actually feel good, and I believe, facilitate faster healing.
Sutures and scars. I was SHOCKED when, at about 9 weeks post-op, I developed a large purple, pimple looking thing right on my incision line. It was a Friday night and I planned to call the doctor’s office on Monday morning. Sunday night it started to itch so I went to the bathroom, cleaned it and pressed gently on one side of the bump. Out popped a little white piece of something that crumbled when I squeezed it. I pressed again, another white piece. Each was the size of a grain of rice. Not large. I asked an OB nurse about it and she said it was a small piece of suture coming out, not a big deal. Well, THAT would have been nice to know! I’ve heard stories of incisions rupturing completely at 12 weeks and I was a bit nervous, but once those pieces came out, the bump went away and I had a healthy scar in no time.
I truly hope this doesn’t scare you. Having a C-section is not something to be afraid of, but it sure helps to know that these things are totally normal!
Did you have a C-section? What surprised you most during or after surgery?