A cesarean section (c-section) is an operation where a doctor makes a cut in your abdomen to safely pull out the baby from your womb. If you know you will need a c-section before you go into labor, this is called a planned (elective) c-section.
If you and your healthcare team decide at short notice that a c-section is the safest way to deliver your baby, it is called an emergency c-section.
Here are the things that you should know about having a cesarean delivery:
No Hair Show!
As part of the surgery prep before a C-section, shaving the pubic area should be done. It gives the doctors a cleaner area to make the incision. You can ask your doctor if he plans on shaving you before the surgery so you can be prepared. You can also ask him if you can have a Brazilian wax (if you prefer it and has done it previously) ahead of time to make it more comfortable for yourself. Be prepared just in case he says “no” though, as shaving at home could cause you to get an infected ingrown hair which puts you at a higher risk of getting a post-surgical infection.
If you do end up getting shaved before your surgery, it will likely only be 2-3 inches around where the incision site will be. The nurse will be quick and careful so there is nothing to worry about.
There are NO Off Limits
If you end up with a cesarean section, you may believe your vagina should be off limits since they are basically cutting the baby out of your stomach. The truth is, however, that you will still experience vaginal bleeding. Your body has been pumping extra blood for over eight months, and that blood has to go somewhere. Tell your doctor if you are not experiencing any bleeding.
You Might Be Freezing
Uncontrollable shivering or shaking after delivering a baby can happen after either a vaginal delivery or a cesarean section. It can also happen with or without an epidural. It’s more common to hear of it happening to women during a C-section, and perhaps it’s a combination of the cold sterile operating room, adrenaline, and IV fluids that bring it on. Operating rooms are notorious for being freezing. The temperature is kept fairly low for a variety of reasons. The colder air helps to maintain equipment and it keeps supplies sterile. Another reason it’s kept so cool is for the comfort of the nurses and doctors. They are standing for an extended period of time under warm OR lights, clothed in sterile gowns. This combination can make them quite hot rather quickly.
The severity of the shaking depends on the condition of the mother. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes.
You might feel a little tugging
During a cesarean section, you will receive regional anesthesia, like an epidural. You should never feel any pain during it, but you will feel some sensations.
Many moms report feeling tugging and pulling. This is from the doctor removing the baby, or manipulating the organs. It’s usually a short, but intense period of the birth and your doctor will most like likely warn you before it happens.
Even though you won’t feel pain, you will still feel movement. You might even feel like something is scurrying across your skin, as the doctors begin the incision to remove your baby. It isn’t an uncomfortable feeling, just a strange one.
The anesthesiologist will test and retest to make sure you are comfortable, and not feeling any pain before beginning the procedure. Be sure to be vocal with your doctor or anesthesiologist throughout the delivery. They can let you know if any feeling you are having is normal or not.
Painful Toilet Trips
Experiencing your first bowel movement after having your baby vaginally can be rather frightening. But pooping can be a major problem post-C-section. It’s hard to push when your stomach is feeling so tender and sore. The tenderness combined with possible constipation is a very unpleasant result. A cesarean section is a major surgery that requires anesthesia, and constipation may occur as a result.
After your surgery, it’s wise to start with fluids and clear food before eating a more normal diet. In fact, you probably won’t be allowed to have any solid foods until you have passed gas. Doing so is a sign that your intestines are beginning to function normally again.
When you are attempting a bowel motion, it can be helpful to apply gentle pressure to your incision area with the palm of your hand. If you begin to experience signs of constipation, be sure to mention it to your doctor. They can recommend stool softeners or even a suppository to help you along.
You will feel some sort of tingling or numbness
Most women will experience some numbness or tingling around their incision scar after having a C-section. This is common and is very normal. The area around the scar can feel extra sensitive even after the scar is completely healed. The numbness is often caused by the after-effects of an epidural or spinal. It can also be caused by nerve damage from where the belly was cut.
To help regain feeling in the scarred area, there are some methods you can try. Keep in mind though that every woman’s body is different. Skin, muscle, age, and even the type of C-section you had all played a part in the recovery process. After getting the ok from your doctor, being some core strength training. Also, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
It will hurt to simply cough or sneeze
After delivering the baby and placenta, your doctor will suction out excess blood and fluids and stitch you back up. He will use dissolvable stitches on each layer of tissue, and staples on the outermost layer of skin.
Because of all of that work on your stomach, any uncontrolled movements will hurt. Sneezing, coughing, and even laughing can leave you with pain like you’ve never felt before.
Using a pillow to apply pressure on your abdominal when sneezing or coughing can help tremendously. Try to relax and keep your stomach as still as possible will ease the pain a little. You can even try drawing your knees up while holding a pillow on your incision for extra stability.
Some moms admit they didn’t realize just how prominent their scar would be.
Don’t worry about it too much—just expect that while you may be weirded out in the beginning, the newness of it will fade in time. Want to help it fade faster? You may opt for scar-fading ointments but only after you’ve let it heal for six weeks. Applying anything sooner may cause an infection. Your scar is a documentation of your child’s birth! Relax and see the good in it. It’s a “battle scar”, as other moms call it.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice to help the incision site to heal. Be sure to keep the area clean, and even allow it to air out every once in a while. Wearing a loose gown at night is sufficient enough to allow air to circulate. Also make sure you are keeping all of your scheduled doctor appointments, since missing only one may result in a funny looking scar.
Move, move, move. It’s the easiest way out.
After delivering your baby via C-section, the nurses will likely encourage you to get up and walk as soon as you can. The first time you get out of bed after a C-section might be the most painful event. You might even feel as if you are pulling your stitches out, but the risk of that happening is pretty minimal since your skin has been immensely stretched out. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional pain medication if trying to rise makes the pain unbearable.
It might be more difficult to do so on that first day since you will likely have a catheter still inserted, but most doctors would like to see their patients up and moving around within 24 hours following the surgery. Moving around should help speed up the recovery process, and can also help prevent constipation. The increased activity will also aid in preventing potentially dangerous blood clots.
Now here’s the HUGE deal!
The Dad’s role during the cesarean surgery is VERY IMPORTANT!
It’s not like we’re saying the Dad’s presence throughout the whole process is mandatory, but we encourage that they have a better involvement on this.
When delivering a baby, the mom usually gets all the attention. She’s doing the heavy lifting — so the Dad’s job is to mainly offer her support during labor and delivery. Dad’s turn to shine usually comes in when it’s time to cut the cord. It’s something dads look forward do and is kind of symbolic in the baby not just belonging to mom anymore, but to both of you.
During a C-section, there is a good chance that the father won’t get to cut the cord. It depends on each person’s hospital policies, but many hospitals don’t allow it because they cannot have the father approach the sterile field. More so, even if he chooses not to cut it, or isn’t allowed, the father is often the first person to hold that baby, so he will still be involved and have a very important role most especially during the entire recovery of the mother.
Are you a C-section mom? Share to us your personal experience in the comment box below!
Hey there, Martha here, a full-time mom of two, currently trying to bring a small impact in everyone’s life whom I can reach through The Queen Momma. I usually write on topics related to parenting, pregnancy and motherhood. Having gone through a few rocky relationships myself, I consider myself somewhat of an “expert” on topics related to dating and relationships.
I formerly worked at Special Needs Network Inc and BrightStar Care of Beverly Hills as a head manager. I have a passion for assisting organizations and individuals in achieving their objectives and have had the opportunity to do so throughout my professional career. At present, writing for The Queen Momma is a great addition to my professional career.