Preparing for c-section?
September 1, 2018 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm scheduled to have a c-section in roughly a month due to placenta previa, and we've been trying to prepare best as we can (now 33 weeks pregnant). I'd love to hear your experiences with pp and/or cesareans, and if you have any recommendations for making the entire deal a bit easier before/after surgery? I'm still a little spooked, as i haven't ever had any type of surgery and this is my first kid etc., but peeps are being super supportive and kind, so there's that. ..aand yess, YANMD

Things we've got more or less covered:
- a 'go-bag' for the hospital (clothes and shampoo and stufF? is there something special you'd have loved to have with you?)
- a dogsitter
- baby's things are set up here at home (diapers, clothes etc.)
- aiming to eat healthily (are there magical foods which make you recover faster? or should i be avoiding something actively? I'm vegetarian)
- taking walks every day as well as some yoga (no restrictions on exercise so far)
- trying to get enough sleep, though its been kind of meh quality
- husband will have a few weeks off after the surgery so he'll be home

..we missing something? And thanks so much in advance!
posted by speakeasy to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
A couple of things that surprised me when I had my scheduled c-section:

• It actually took place about 5 hours after it was scheduled, because a couple of emergency c-sections came in and took priority (obviously).

• While I was waiting to go in, I went into labor. My OB was not surprised and said that sometimes, just being in the hospital setting triggers labor when you’re ready to go (I was 39 weeks).

• It took a surprisingly long time for the doctor to get my daughter out of me. I don’t know if this is typical. Just as I was starting to get worried about how long it was taking, he said, “Don’t worry, everything’s going fine, she just doesn’t want to come out.” My daughter has been stubborn and contrary since birth!
posted by amro at 12:32 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't say this to scare you, because it's only happened to my sister - she got a "spinal headache" after both her c-sections (due to either the spinal or epidural, not sure which one she had), and the fix is called a "blood patch." She got it much faster the second time because she knew what to ask for. She also said the scheduled c-section was so much better than the one after 24 hours of labor.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some things that really helped after my c-section:

1. Having a whole bunch of dinners prepped and stocked in the freezer so that we could just dump them into a crock pot or put them in the oven. We had about two weeks' worth of dinners ready to go, and we were so so so so glad we did. We used them up in the first month or so.

2. One of those boppy pillows was really helpful for me when it came to holding/nursing baby and not hurting my incision.

3. I also found that the velcro-y support binder thing they sent me home with from the hospital really helped me to move around in general.

4. My doctor said I couldn't drive or go up and down a bunch of stairs for a while (I think two weeks?) - so be prepared for that. We had to move our bedroom downstairs temporarily.

5. Even though everything should be fine at 34 weeks, we did have to do some light therapy with our newborn once we got home. A home health company came by with a light blanket for us to use. Just FYI that this is a possibility.

6. Neither I nor my partner were as mentally prepared as we probably should have been for how much rest I would need to recover from the surgery while OMG NEWBORN BABY IN THE HOUSE. My mom came to help us out for a couple of weeks, and I was so grateful. If you have a mom, sister, or mother-in-law, or similar who would be willing to do this (and who you think would be a help rather than a hindrance to have around), you might consider asking if they would come to stay for a little while.

7. Breastfeeding was hard and especially because they give you a dose of antibiotics after your c-section. This meant that me and baby came down with a raging case of thrush because antibiotics always give me yeast infections. I used a nipple guard after that, and it made all the difference, but there are plenty of people who will tell you not to do that. If you plan to breastfeed, you might consider getting in touch with a local La Leche League. They can help you get the hang of breastfeeding after you leave the hospital.

8. Generally, do whatever you can now to clear the decks so that you can devote two weeks to sleeping, feeding baby, sleeping, changing baby, sleeping, feeding yourself, sleeping, bathing baby, sleeping, bathing yourself, repeat. A c-section is major surgery. Caring for a newborn is a major life-adjustment.

9. They will send you home with pain medication. It's important to stay "in front" of the pain rather than to try and relieve it once it's started. So take the pills according to the schedule on the Rx-- don't wait for your incision to start to hurt before you take your next dose of pain medication.

10. My c-section at 34 weeks meant that I came home with a healthy but a small baby! We didn't have premie diapers, onesies, or jammy sets, but we turned out to need them. Also, by far the best baby shower gift we got turned out to be one of those big-box-warehouse-sized boxes of baby wipes ;).

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by pinkacademic at 12:59 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

I have had 2 c sections. The good news is that a scheduled one is much easier!
You will need high waisted underwear, likely for months (the scar can be sensitive for awhile). Stock up now in a few sizes.
Do NOT skip your stool softeners.
As you recover, drink lots of water and eat as much iron rich and high protein food as you can.
I was able to manage my pain for the second with just high doses of Tylenol and ibuprofen after the first day, so make sure you have those at home. Your pain levels will drop pretty fast, faster than it seems at first, I promise you’ll be so much better in a couple of weeks. But anecdotally, seems to take 5-7 weeks to have a pain free day.
You won’t be able to do much bending, any lifting, stairs will be hard, so it’s great your husband can be home. Be thoughtful about how you’ll manage stuff like diaper changes and putting the baby in a crib. Or even getting around your house.
You can still get a doula if you want one.
If you have to laugh, sneeze, or cough in the first few days, clutch a pillow to your abdomen- it hurts really bad but that helps.
When you get home, you won’t have the nifty lifting hospital bed, so be careful - you may or may not be able to lie flat yet (I got stuck on my back my first night home! Needed my husband to lift me.)
Take it easy. Resting, a lot, for at least a month, is a good idea. Don’t push yourself , there is a lot of time to get everything done and get out, just rest. Snuggle that baby. Cooking and cleaning should be done by your husband/family/friends/paid help- please, rest!
For the actual section- your husband should be allowed in with you, but there will be a little time at first they don’t let him in, while they are doing the spinal, but your doctor and a nurse will be there. It’s normal to be scared and they should be super nice and supportive of you if you are.
posted by john_snow at 1:04 PM on September 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

Congratulations, and fingers crossed for you!

It helped to have a tiny refrigerator in the bedroom where I was spending my post c-section time with Baby #1; I didn't have to try to get downstairs for a cold drink or snack.

Um, don't look up at the lamp's reflective surface. It can be unsettling to see a reflection of what the doc is doing.

Boppy pillow--yes!

C-section #2 went better, but I still remember asking my husband to go out and get me supportive granny panties. My lower belly muscles felt distended and loose for a few weeks, and it helped me to know I had a little extra support.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:05 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

During the surgery, the anesthesiologist is your go-to person for managing how you feel. Shaky? Nauseated? Nervous? Itchy? Talk to the anesthesiologist, and they can help by magically adjusting what goes in your IV. (They'll hang out near your head; feel free to mention any discomfort throughout the process.)

It's also possible you'll feel none of those things, and you almost certainly won't feel all of them. But know that most discomforts are manageable.
posted by purpleclover at 1:06 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh, a few more things - even without pushing you can have pelvic floor issues, and Diastatis seems to be worse after Cs. If you possibly can, get yourself to a pelvic floor PT after 6-8 weeks. Your core will need help, you have to recover gently, not by jumping into Pilates or something (this is standard treatment in civilized, first world countries, which the US is not).
Join the mefi parents FB group!
Good luck!
posted by john_snow at 1:19 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've had three C-sections -- two scheduled, one emergency (she arrived two weeks earlier than her scheduled C). Two with epidurals, one with a spinal. None for placenta previa, though. I was super-terrified the first time because I am wussy about medical things and petrified of surgery, but it was easy and went well and I was pretty blase about the second and third time!

They have a lot of practice and, since you're scheduled, they'll walk you through prep at a pretty leisurely and deliberate pace. You will probably be bored during some of the prep. (My emergency one, they crunched 2 hours of prep into less than 20 minutes. For the scheduled ones, there was mostly one nurse, sometimes a nurse and a doctor, going through everything step by step; for the emergency one, there were like four teams all going at once!) My biggest prep fear was getting the catheter, but they don't do that part until you have the anesthetic in so it was nothing. During the surgery, you WILL be able to feel pressure, somewhat faintly -- but not sharpness or pain. So you won't feel them cutting, but you'll definitely feel when they start to move big stuff (uterus, baby) around, and you'll definitely feel when they deliver the baby (all your organs suddenly have so much ROOM!). One thing they didn't tell me is that they generally have one person push on the top of your bump while the doctor pulls out the head at the bottom, so the baby's getting a push from above and a pull from below. This doesn't HURT, but it is uncomfortable because it's a little hard to breathe for a minute from the pressure. The first time it scared me a little, just because they hadn't warned me. (Also because the first time they need a LOT of pressure, due to malpositioning of the fetus that was the reason for the C-section, so it felt like someone was STANDING ON MY FUCKING CHEST while people encouraged me to breathe and if I could have breathed I would have said, "I CAN'T BREATHE, THERE'S SOMEONE STANDING ON MY FUCKING CHEST.") The second and third time, it was just some pushing down, it wasn't particularly remarkable. Felt tight, but I could breathe without a problem.

At most hospitals in the US, they'll show you the baby and then swoop her off to a bassinet on the side where you can turn your head and see her, and the nurses will clean her up, and your partner can go TRIM the cord (it was already cut during the delivery), and then they'll wrap her up and give her to your partner and your partner will bring her to you to meet, and you'll be able to touch her with your free arm (one arm is usually at the disposal of the medical team) and kiss her and get pictures. Usually one of the nurses or the anesthesiologist will offer to take your phone and take pictures of the baby right after delivery, during cleanup, the cord-cutting, meeting mom, etc.

(Some hospitals will allow you to attempt breastfeeding at that point, while surgery is still going on, but I had ZERO interest in attempting that (I have to focus on not completely losing my shit during surgery) so I didn't inquire about it.)

At this point, your partner and the baby will head off to the nursery for bath and complete checkup. A completely uncomplicated C-section takes about 3 minutes to deliver the baby and 45 minutes to stitch you up, so you'll probably have at least another half hour of lying there while they stitch you up. It's kinda boring. At this point they can give you better drugs if you request them/need them, because baby won't get them (I had some anti-anxiety drugs the first time, but not the second or third). I don't know how much complication placenta previa adds; my third C-section it took almost 20 minutes to deliver the baby, and then I was in surgery for about two hours b/c of a ruptured uterus, that was EXCRUCIATINGLY dull because you just stare at the ceiling. You can chat with whomever is willing to chat with you -- anesthesiologists often keep you company and hold a conversation with you, if you'd like. During my second C, I had my favorite surgeon (who is a friend) so I just chatted with the surgeon while he worked (after the baby was delivered and out and it was just the boring stitching up part).

You'll spend about an hour in recovery. Some hospitals will bring you the baby while you're in recovery (if you want); others won't. Basically you're just being monitored by a nurse who's making sure all your functions are going back to normal. After a certain amount of time passes and your vital signs meet particular goals (which nearly everyone meets), they'll take you to your room and bring baby (and your partner) to you. At this point, you'll coo over the baby, receive plaudits from your partner on your awesomeness, take some pictures, ask a billion questions about what the baby did while you were being stitched up, and then attempt breastfeeding or learn to bottlefeed.

I had no complications initiating breastfeeding any of the three times (other than the usual complications of being a first-time mom and babies being terrible at eating); all my kids were ready and eager to eat, and latched on pretty easily once I was doing my part right. My milk came in a little bit later than a normal vaginal delivery, but all of my kids were gaining weight like champs before we left the hospital. I'm only telling you this because some people are judgy jerks about C-sections and will condescendingly inform you your baby won't bond and your milk won't come in; they are ignoramuses who need a smacking. Neither of us had any problem bonding with our babies from day 1, and ease of breastfeeding seems to be much more about the individual kid (some are good latchers, some are not; some are good suckers, some are not; some have physiological difference that make it hard, etc.) than about delivery method. If you're opting to breastfeed, and you have some trouble, you've got a nurse there to help and/or lactation consultants.

Insist on stool softeners, and keep taking them even after you leave the hospital. The pooping part isn't so bad (like it is for vaginal deliveries), but unsoftened stool moving along your large intestine RIGHT BEHIND YOUR SURGERY SCAR is the worst fucking thing in the universe, so soften that motherfucker and keep softening for a good 10-14 days.

These days they remove the catheter as early as possible (to reduce infections), and want you shuffling around on your own two feet (and a walker, and two nurses) within 24 hours. So if you have your surgery first thing in the morning, that night around 9 p.m. they'll probably be getting you to stand up and shuffle a few steps. (They'll change your sheets, do some stuff, help you back down.) On day 2 they'll probably have you trying to pee. The first couple of times you get up are difficult and very painful -- your abdominal muscles can do almost nothing to help you and everything hurts. However, give it your best effort; after three C-sections I can tell you that getting up sooner and making the effort to move really does speed the healing and get you feeling better faster. (Not that I didn't whine like a giant baby even the third time when the mean and cruel nurse wanted me to stand the fuck up, it sucks, even when you know it's necessary and helpful!) (It is okay to whine like a giant baby, the nurse knows it sucks.) By day 3 you'll be shuffling to the bathroom without help and even taking walks up and down the hallway -- which helps get your intestines moving and helps prevent constipation and gas pain. All three times I was able to climb stairs when I went home on day 4.

There's all kinds of weird stuff that can happen during C-sections that is TOTALLY NORMAL so be proactive about telling the nurses about any pain/weirdness -- most of the time they can assure you it's normal and/or get you relief. The third time (but not the first two), I had terrible pain in my right shoulder, like I could not sleep it was so bad, and they told me that sometimes happens, it's from air trapped in your abdomen from being open to the air during the surgery pressing on a nerve and referring pain all the way up there! And that it would filter its way into my intestines and then get farted out over a few days. I thought they were lying liars who lie because I was pretty sure someone accidentally stuck an axe blade into my shoulder, but they were right. (Also they gave me something for the pain so I could sleep.)

This is very much personal preference, but I am not a person who can cope without sleep (I throw up when I'm overtired), so I had the baby sleep in the nursery at night all three times ... I knew I'd wake up at every tiny noise, if I could even sleep at all due to new-parent anxiety, and that I needed some sleep to recover from the surgery. Other people sleep a lot better knowing the baby is right there, or cope a lot better than I do when they don't sleep, and make different decisions. I also only let my husband stay one night before sending him to sleep at home because it was stupid to have him woken up every 3 hours by nurses coming in to do their thing. With the second and third, having learned the lessons of #1, I would ask the nurses to try to bunch up a feeding, my vitals check, and my timed meds all together (between 10 p.m. and midnight usually), and then take the baby to the nursery and give the baby a bottle for the next feeding, so I could sleep 4-5 hours uninterrupted. Because I'm such a wreck without sleep, this made a big difference for me, but then I wasn't fussed about using formula and with #1 I turned out to have compliant boobs that weren't fussy about missing a feeding and always produced plenty, so YMMV a great deal based on feeding preferences, sleep needs, etc.! We continued this at home, with my husband getting up for the first feed in the morning after 4 a.m. and giving formula so I could sleep a larger chunk of hours in a row. (My husband later on said this was one of his favorite things, getting to do a bottle and gaze into each others' eyes. He 100% supported my breastfeeding, but he was secretly glad he got to do a bottle when the babies were new.) When they were sleeping a five-hour stretch we abandoned the rescue bottle.

You will definitely need granny panties! All of mine were summer babies and my summer pants were fine, but when it got cold I discovered my jeans were NOT, they hit me right in the scar and the stiffness of the denim was unbearable. Now I wear mom jeans. Some time 4-6 months after the surgery you will suddenly itch like your scar is covered in fire ants ... that is the nerves growing back across the scar (I think they grow 1 mm a month?) and you will begin to gradually get sensation back in that area. (If you are like me you will spend a lot of the no-sensation time after it's healed poking at it just to marvel that you can feel your finger but not your belly.) Don't worry! The itching doesn't last very long! Sensation-wise, it's been 2 years and six weeks since my third C-section and I have sensation back along most of it, but there are a few spots that are weird. I don't really notice them anymore. (It's still improving.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

Keep an eye on your incision either in the mirror or have your partner check it. I got a small fat pocket (or something like that) in mine that was oozing and had to go back to my doctor to drain it and then I had to pack it with gauze twice a day for a bit. It wasn’t a big deal at all but it’s really hard to actually see your incision by looking down because of how low it is and apparently this issue is somewhat common. I also have to recommend walking and using a support belt very highly. I was lucky to have a very easy recovery and I think those factors contributed.
posted by notheotherone at 1:32 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Eyebrows McGee summed it all up so well but I just want to echo what she said about the utter nonsense that some idiotic losers will try to spout at you about bonding with your baby and breastfeeding. Tell all those people to step the eff off. C-section probably isn't your dream-come-true birth scenario, but what you will quickly learn is that literally every single minute of your child's life going forward, after the moment of birth, is more important than the fashion in which they arrive into the world.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:15 PM on September 1, 2018 [13 favorites]

I know several female physicians who've gone for elective c-sections for themselves. They know what's up. Don't let ever let anyone make you feel less-than because you have a c. They save lives.

Lot of excellent advice above. I'd add: make sure your partner understands they're going to be the one doing the diaper changes in the beginning. Yes, even if it feels like an unfair division of work. Your core doesn't need any extra exertion. I wish I had known this for my first.

Yes to stool softeners. Yes to giant granny panty "briefs" with a waistband as high as you can get.

Here's one I didn't see above: the anaesthesia can make it take longer for your milk to come in. Mine took 4-5 days. Don't worry, it's coming.

You will be walking bent over for a while until your abdomen heals.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:26 PM on September 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I had a post-surgical infection promptly after going home from my not-scheduled surgical delivery. It was super-not-fun. Check the hospital's infection rate for C sections. It's much less likely because yours is planned.

Hospital food induces constipation. Stool softener, fruit, bran, water, for real. My husband brought me a big container of cut up fresh fruit while I was in the hospital, and it was the best thing ever.

I wear spandex granny panties that would be perfect for post-surg., almost waist high, medium support, get a couple sizes because you really will lose that belly.

I knew I might have a c-section, so my then-husband and I agreed that he'd go with the baby to do skin-to-skin bonding. A nurse came in as I was being sewn up and said The Dad is in the nursery with his shirt off, bonding with the baby and I was quite comforted. From the pictures, later, I learned that the baby was all swaddled, so not much skin contact, but I hated the idea of him in a bassinet alone after 9 months in me. My son's gf just had a baby and they had the baby in her arms very quickly, so practices change.

I nursed for about 18 months. The 1st six months, I lost some weight, the 2nd six months, the weight just melted away magically while I ate voraciously. Also, once I got over my son being a hungry lamprey, it was cozy and enjoyable. I used a pillow, partly because he was good at kicking me in the incision.

Lots of food in the freezer, tell friends to bring a meal if they visit, or do laundry, vacuum, whatever. Hire a cleaner if you can. Congratulations!
posted by theora55 at 2:57 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had an unplanned C and am about to have a scheduled C with my second (in about 6 weeks!). Congratulations!

There's lots of great specific advice above, but I just wanted to pop in and say - I was terrified of having a c section beforehand, and I turned out to have an amazing recovery. Nothing took as long as I expected - I lived in NYC at the time and I walked home the few blocks from the hospital (really!) and walked up the four flights of stairs to my apartment (really!!) and then went up and down the stairs (slowly and not carrying anything at first) almost daily from then on. I started baby wearing after about a week, was off painkillers after a couple of weeks, and felt more or less normal after six weeks. I was able to breastfeed. The only thing I found surprisingly difficult was getting up from a totally recumbent position, so I minimized that by having my husband always bring me the baby and by doing more sitting or reclining than lying fully down.

I say all of that not to brag or encourage you to push yourself too hard or anything - it's major surgery, listen to your body and your doctors, etc - but just because before I gave birth I heard countless horror stories about c-sections, even from well meaning people, that led me to believe I'd have to be bedridden for weeks. And it ended up fine and I'm looking forward to my next one :)
posted by cpatterson at 3:23 PM on September 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

Have everything on the same floor at home as much as you can (and if you have two floors that you'll need to be moving between anyway, set up a baby changing station on both). I had a fairly easy recovery, but it was still so much better to not be dealing with stairs for a few weeks.

One of the most useful bits of information I learned before mine ended up being a summary of who is in the room during a c-section. There are a lot of people, and if you aren't expecting it, that many medical professionals all surrounding you can look pretty intimidating and make you worry if this means something's wrong. So it was useful to know beforehand that this was standard procedure - that there would be this many nurses, this many anaesthetists and surgeons, etc etc.

The thing I didn't know beforehand but would like to have done is that the baby comes out really soon in the procedure, it's the stuff afterwards that takes most of the time. (I had a really confusing few moments where my baby came out yelling and the people at my head said things like "that sounds good!" and I didn't understand why they were talking about that other baby yelling somewhere while mine wasn't born yet.)
posted by Catseye at 3:31 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is a practical not for your husband:
Life is funny.
Life is hilarious.
But keep your effing mouth shut until the stitches have healed.
(Mrs. Plinth may have forgiven me for answering the room phone "Stuart Plinth's House of fun" right as she came out of the bathroom)
posted by plinth at 5:41 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I had an unscheduled c-section at age 41. My only childbirth experience so I have nothing to compare it to. Went into labour then learned the baby was breach. Everything went just as it should. I was in the hospital for a few days. I had no problems holding him or breastfeeding or any of that. I had no problem with stairs once I got home. I just took care of myself. Adjusted my expectations. Everything healed fine. My recovery took longer than my one friend who had a vaginal birth but not as long as my other friend who also had a vaginal birth, so there you go.

In the hospital I asked my mom to bring me a little spiral notebook and a pen so I could write down what time I was feeding the baby and what side it was. Time gets confusing in a hospital. Also, I could write down any questions I had. That was a really useful thing to have!

On September 6th it will the 18th anniversary of my c-section and I have a charming young man hanging around here to remind me of it all. Good luck and congratulations!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:28 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Ms Vegetable on the spinal headache. Even after telling the anesthesiologist I'd previously had one after a spinal tap, he was surprised when it happened and I asked for a different anesthesiologist to administer the blood patch that helped immensely.

I had a TAP block when I was in the recovery room after my c-section, after I'd been awake and alert for an hour. The anesthesiologist used a small ultrasound machine to see where certain nerves were located and then used a long needle to inject anesthesic precisely where it would work best. It was excellent - I was able to sit up on my own and move so well each new nurse asked if I was sure I didn't deliver vaginally.
posted by Coffeemate at 7:34 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's not normal for your back, nose, arm to be itchy. And if it is, tell a nurse. I reacted to the anesthetic and rubbed my nose raw. I mentioned it the second time, and they controlled the itch.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:49 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Anecdote: Friend who's had 3 c-sections says Day 10 post surgery has been the hardest for her all 3 times (I think she meant lack of sleep & emotions & hormones compounded with breastfeeding pain that got better by the next week). So maybe plan something nice for Day 10: perhaps some childcare so you can nap, and a tasty delivery dinner that requires no prep or cleanup.

Also, friend's doula suggests eating cooked, warm, spicy foods like stew, curries, chili, lentils, etc. Even if the weather isn't typical of when you might usually crave cooked warm food... she said hot foods were more restorative. Friend agreed that this felt like the case for her.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:46 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ohh these helped so much - thank you!! i took notes! these answers make this a lot less daunting to face, esp. the breastfeeding stuff has really been worrying me - feel like a big weights been lifted! and will def. be stocking up the freezer and getting some granny pants! Thank you, this was awesome.
posted by speakeasy at 8:16 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you will have a microwave handy, get a couple of rice bags--I found that heating them up for a minute and applying (gently) to an achy area provided quick relief.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:12 AM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had a c-section after getting preeclampsia. The c-section experience seems to vary widely, perhaps as much as the vaginal birth experience. My section took place at about the time the doctor said it would. My sister showed up first thing in the morning for hers and wasn’t in surgery for 12+ hours. My sister-in-law has a hard time recovering but she labored first for 24+ hours. That makes a big difference. I found a lot of people who said that having a c-section was the worst were people who labored first. I actually thought it was okay. I mean, it’s major abdominal surgery involving the removal of a human from your insides but all things considered, it was kind of ok.

My husband peaked over the drape. That’s not for everyone but he thought it was kind of cool. You shouldn’t feel cutting during the surgery but you will feel pressure. I actually got nauseous and threw up during the surgery - not a big deal but it happens. Also, I think both of my arms were strapped down during the surgery. Again, not a big deal but if you’re not expecting it, it might feel weird.

Get up and walk around post-op as soon as you’re able. It will help you heal and get back into the swing of things. I pushed a wheelchair around. Also ask the nurses to explain how to comfortably get in and out of bed post-op. Your core muscles may not be the same. Take it easy and go slow.

Don’t be shy about taking pain pills. If you don’t need them, that’s great but there’s no prize to not taking them if you need them.

At my hospital, they wanted me to have a bowel movement before I was discharged to be sure everything was working in that area. I left the hospital before that happened but I was nervous about it. They’ll probably give you stool softeners at the hospital. Take the stool softeners.

It took me months before I could look at the incision because I get squeamish but when I did, it wasn’t anything exciting.

Stairs are not your friend post-op but they’re also not the end of the world. I live in a 3rd floor walkup and had a baby in the NICU so I had to do stairs at least twice a day for two weeks. It’s ok, just take it slow.

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by kat518 at 12:20 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

You mentioned you have "baby things" so you may already have this - but one thing I would definitely work on is getting your baby carrier and/or baby sling in hand.

You'll want to use it starting basically day 1 and they are even more helpful/necessary after a c-section. And, once the baby comes you're going to realize this PDQ (that's what happened to us with Baby #1) but you're not going to have time/energy to go shopping for one.

We used both a sling type carrier and a more structured 'buckle carrier' as well. Both are useful in different circumstances. Particularly the sling-type carriers you can start using right from day one with a new infant.

This looks like a decent guide to the various type of carriers available. I'm mentioning this particularly because I know such things have been used in different cultures since time immemorial but in our particular area and culture not that long ago this was a super-new and rare thing. No one seemed to use them, know much about them, or know where to get them. Maybe things have changed now?

Also: Wife was scheduled for a c-section so we were just relaxing along assuming nothing would happen until then. But a few days before the scheduled date she went into very fast-moving labor, so we rushed down to the hospital ("free drive-in flu shot weekend" at the hospital--do not recommend) for an emergency unscheduled c-section.

So, no big deal but just be aware that just because you have a date marked down on the calendar does not necessarily mean that Baby has the same date marked down. Be ready for that quick trip to the hospital at any time just as you would under any other similar circumstances.
posted by flug at 12:51 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've not had a c-section, but I had a keyhole surgery to get my appendix out last week. One of my biggest focuses immediately post-surgery were to get my good bacteria back in check, so I would recommend shelf-stable probiotics. In terms of food, I'd recommend eating plenty of fruit, vegetables, grains with fibre. Drink plenty of water. I've also included a couple of pickles and some (soy) yogurt in my diet each day for the probiotic benefits.

All the best for the arrival of your baby!
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:07 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Someone I know rented a hospital bed so they'd be more independent when having to get up and out of bed. She recommends it to anyone who can afford the cost, has the space, and has time to look into getting one. However, plenty of people I know got by without a hospital bed, obviously... there's no way to predict how your recovery will go. Wishing you best of luck!!
posted by at 9:08 PM on September 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had an emergency C-section with my only child. My only side-effect from the anesthesia was feeling unbearably cold and I asked what time it was about 30 times for the first hour. I was grateful for my mom staying with me for two weeks because she cooked all kinds of comfort food - enough that I could stock up on frozen meals which was a god send.

My husband is a very poor sleeper so we came to the mutual agreement that I would do all the night time feedings. I'm not going to lie. It was hard and lonely being awake at 3:30 a.m. trying to comfort a crying infant. He understood that so he made sure every night that I had a tray table set up next to the rocker. Everything I needed was within arms reach: TV remote, warm blanket, snacks, water bottles, diapers etc. As soon as he got home, he fixed dinner and took over with the baby. Communication was key to getting me through those first months.

Be prepared for the possibility of extreme fatigue and hormonal mood swings including feeling overwhelmed. Don't let others dismiss your feelings. Two weeks after birth and just after my mom left, I called the OB office nursing line to report I felt exhausted to level that I didn't feel comfortable with. She told me every mother recovers from a C section differently and to call back in a few days. I insisted on an appointment the next day and 24 hours later, I was admitted back into the hospital with an infection from my incision.

I wouldn't change a moment. Enjoy your new bundle of joy!
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 8:58 AM on September 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

i have no idea if people check these for updates, but warmest biggest fuzziest thank youuus for everyone for despookifying the entire experience and all the sound advice. ended up having the op at 37 weeks and baby boy is healthy and turns 5 weeks this thursday (hes pretty chill, we're keeping him <3). we went in at 7 am and were done by nine..a lot of our days was just snoozing and watching bad TV. it was good.

so we stayed at the hospital for four days and have recovered well. the med team was so kind and helpful, and despite all my doubts and learning how to hand express etc., breastfeeding worked out a-ok! (PSA- found out that rose water is lovely for healing sore nipples!)

i've never been so in love in my life..its pretty dope.
posted by speakeasy at 4:31 AM on October 30, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh congratulations! Babies are so great. Enjoy!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 10:18 AM on October 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

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