Everything you need to know about caesareans

Caesarean

Caesarean rates across the country are at an all time high, and yet so many of us still feel completely unprepared if it is something that happens to us. I think part of that is because it isn’t always presented as an option at antenatal classes and the like, with a focus on preparing for a natural birth. So, if you end up having to be whipped off for an emergency section after hours of labour, or if it turns out your little bundle is breech and you choose to have a caesarean, then we can often feel overwhelmed, under-prepared and confused about what is happening. 

So, I turned to my own experiences, and those of the blogging community to discover ‘things we wish we had known before having a c section’.

That you don’t always end up being awake. Sounds silly but it never crossed my mind. During my emergency with my daughter everything spiralled so quickly, so both me and my husband missed her birth as he wasn’t allowed in the theatre room. Mummy BurgessThis is an excellent point. My first daughter was born by crash section after she became distressed. I didn’t have an epidural in place and there was no time to get one, so I was put under general anaesthetic. This meant my husband was not allowed in theatre. I think because most caesareans these days are carried out with you awake, people forget that in some situations that isn’t possible. Although it’s not common, just knowing that a general anaesthetic is a possibility can help you to prepare, just in case.

That you will still bleed as much as after a vaginal birth, and that your belly may remain numb for months, if not years! Belle Du BrightonThis is definitely something to bear in mind. There is a lot of misconceptions about C section birth, one being that you won’t bleed afterwards. This is NOT the case at all – you will still need those big maternity pads! The numbness is something else I really wasn’t prepared for – it has been 11 years since my first caesarean, and the area around my scar is still completely numb. It’s a really odd sensation, and one that takes some getting used to! Remember that blood loss and the fact you have been lying flat for a while can cause you to feel really light headed when you first get up – so take it slow! Pack the PJ’s

That I’d have to have injections afterwards. After having IVF which involved daily injections, I was glad to be rid of them. After the c-section, I was told to go to the ward daily for a nurse to administer the injections, but they were so short staffed my husband ended up injecting me. Twin Mummy and DaddyAgain, this isn’t something that is ever discussed, and perhaps something that should be mentioned during antenatal classes. Following a caesarean, you will need to inject yourself, or get someone else to do it for you, for about 2 weeks. I was sent home from hospital with a parcel of injections and sharps bin, with very little idea of how to manage this. I soon got to grips with it, but it would be beneficial to know beforehand. 

I wish I knew not to try and sit up from lying down on my own! Neon Rainbow BlogYou don’t expect to be leaping around after birth anyway, but when your baby cries, you do tend to forget that you’ve had major surgery, and try to get to them quickly. Sitting up after a section takes time – I found that rolling onto my side first, then swinging my legs onto the floor and pushing myself up with my arm was the least painful way. 

To pack bigger knickers incase of an emergency section, all my knickers sat right on my cut and dug in so badly. Emmy’s MummyEven if you aren’t planning to have a section, it is worth chucking a pack of massive pants in your hospital bag just in case – you really won’t be able to bear anything sitting right on the scar line.

That you can’t drive for up to 6 weeks afterwards. Mummy it’s OK. Insurance companies vary, so do check with yours, but it could be up to 6 weeks before you can drive, and you won’t be up to walking miles, so you might need to call in some favours if you need to get out and about.

A pillow was invaluable for me – for coughing/laughing and certainly for the drive home! TwinderelmoCoughing, laughing, sneezing and travelling can be uncomfortable and first, and you may feel like you need to support your abdomen. Holding a pillow gently over the area can make it feel a little easier.

That they may not use stitches. In emergency sections they sometimes use staples as these are quicker to close up a wound but if you’ve never seen these before it can be quite a shock when the dressing is removed. They can also pinch so do speak up and tell your visiting midwife as she can remove any that are causing issues. Emma Reed.

That the nurses will get you up, take the catheter out and make you walk around within 12 hours of the procedure. Cuteness and ChaosYes, you have had major surgery, but you won’t be lying in bed for your recovery. You will be encouraged to get up, walk about and shower, and although at first you will feel like you can’t possibly do any of those things, you will find that moving around makes you feel SO much better. As for that first shower? Bliss. Makes you feel human again. 

On the flip side, doing too much can have the opposite effect. It is a balancing act, and you need to listen to your body once you get home. Remember to take painkillers as and when you need them too. Don’t overdo it too early on and do too much walking! My husband had to get the car to take me home as I was in pain from walking down the road! Suburban Mum

Ask for help if you are finding it hard to feed your baby comfortably. You may find it harder to breastfeed as holding baby over your stomach hurts. Try the rugby hold instead or breastfeed lying down to start with. Island Living 365

Being aware that a caesarean might be a possibility, no matter what your birth plan, can help you deal with it emotionally. Remember that it is still YOUR birth, and you can request certain things in most cases – music to be played in theatre, for your partner to reveal the gender and cut the cord, for your baby to be given to you for immediate skin to skin.

Finally, remember these wise words:

It’s ok to be sad about the birth you had, and to take your time coming to terms with it. Life with Baby Kicks

Having a c-section, whether it’s planned or emergency, isn’t failing at birth or pregnancy or motherhood. It’s just another way to bring your beautiful baby safely into the world. Glasgow with Kids

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9 Comments

  1. April 27, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    Very helpful to anyone who is booked for a caesarean or expecting a baby. I had two emergency and one elective caesarean and I know I would have valued this words.

  2. April 27, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    I am lucky in that all three of my children were born naturally with little pain relief too, I was born via a C section and reading this will help anyone who may need one

  3. May 8, 2017 / 2:56 pm

    Great read!

    I had a crash section with the first (though fortunately had an epidural in place already so could stay awake). With my second, I’d hoped to go for a natural birth but following another complicated pregnancy was told I’d have to deliver by C section a little early.

    2 totally different experiences. The first one a blur and a panic. The second one we had known about a couple of months in advance so had time to prepare. It was completely calm and almost enjoyable! The recovery not so much though! The pain for the few days following a C section is just awful, isn’t it?!

    • kate
      May 8, 2017 / 4:05 pm

      I think people (including myself!) forget that it is major abdominal surgery and the recovery really does take time. I know I tried to do too much, too soon and ended up feeling worse for it!

  4. May 29, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    Very useful blog post. I have no experience of a c section. They sound super scary.

  5. May 29, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    Such a great post, hopefully it helps some mums to be know how to prepare and what to expect!

  6. June 1, 2017 / 3:12 pm

    I didn’t know half of that the recovery time sounds so much longer than a regular vaginal birth!

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