C sections have gotten a real bad rap in this age of doulas and unmedicated births, but sometimes they are truly necessary. My first baby was stubbornly breach and had low amniotic fluid, so a C section it was. To me, the most important end goal is a healthy baby. For reasons that I may get into in another post, I ended up having C sections with my other two babies. Suffice it to say, after three C sections in three years, I’ve pretty much nailed down a workable routine for preparation and healing. Here are some of my tips. Should be worth a read even if you are not planning on having a C section because you never know what kind of exigencies may arise during the course of your labor. The best laid plans of mice and men . . .
What to pack in your hospital bag:
1) Ear plugs and an eye mask. During your
endless longer hospital stay, the first night is going to be tough because you will still have your epidural in and there will be these horrible things wrapped around your legs periodically squeezing them and then releasing them. The last thing you need are flashing hospital machine lights and noisy neighbors also keeping you up. (True story, we once had people in the next room partying it up all night every night).
2) Elegant long robe. I guess if you have a vaginal birth, it is easy to get back into some clothes afterward, but if you have had a C section, the last thing you want is anything on your waist line or wearing anything that requires standing up to put it on. They try and get you to stand up as soon as possible, but trust me, it is not something you are going to enjoy doing at first. To avoid the awkwardness of visitors seeing you in the embarrassing hospital gown alone, bring a nice robe (that makes you feel pretty, very important) to pull over your gown. Makes breastfeeding easier as well.
3) Flip flops or slip ons. You will not be able to lean over or bring your feet up, so anything that you can just keep by your bed and slip your feet in is KEY!
4) SNACKS! Depending on your OB, sometimes you are put on a clear liquids diet for 24 hours after the surgery. So when you can finally eat, you are ravenous! Particularly between those lovely hospital meals. So bring lots of munchies. I bring a ton of candy because I just delivered a baby and I’ve earned it, dammit.
5) Your glasses. If you have some, of course. I was shocked to learn that I would be looking significantly less glamorous in the photos because you are apparently not allowed to wear your contacts during the surgery.
How to prepare for a C section:
1) Shave. Or get a bikini wax. The incision is going to be much lower than you expect. Trust me, you don’t want a nurse that is in a hurry taking a razor to your sensitive area pre-op. They like it when you have gone ahead and done it yourself. Saves them time.
2) Do not eat or drink anything (even water) for those 12 hours before your surgery (or however long they have told you to abstain). They will send you home and reschedule it if they see you with a water bottle (true story). Medication like Zofran or Zantac is fine, apparently.
C section recovery: what to expect
Your first C section is rough, I’m not going to lie. The sooner you get up and start walking around, the better and shorter your recovery will be. So push through the pain!
Accept help! This one is very important. Even in the hospital, you are going to need someone to help you walk to the bathroom and take a shower, and the staff is sometimes just too busy to be at your every beck and call. You won’t be able to drive for at least two weeks, stairs will be a challenge, and you shouldn’t lift anything heavier than your baby. Even your baby can be too heavy, as I well know from dropping my first (luckily it was a short drop onto a cushion, but it scared the crap out of me nonetheless).
You can breast feed! If that is what you want to do. Tell the staff you plan on breastfeeding and have them bring the baby into the recovery room after they have stitched you back up. They say the football hold is best for C section mamas, but the cradle hold on top of a fluffy pillow always worked better for me. Ask your lactation consultant about it (the hospital should provide you with one). After you go home, nursing lying down in bed on your side is where it’s at.
Stock up on maxi pads. Even though they take care of most of the after birth during the surgery (ick) you still bleed a bit for a few weeks.
As for the meds, trust your doctor! It is really difficult to breastfeed at first, especially if it is your first time, and being in pain makes it exponentially more difficult. You will also need medication for constipation probably. Don’t worry, that will only last a few weeks afterward.
I hope this helps!