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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

C-section 101

My friend just had a C-section. I have another friend who is pregnant and fears having a C-section. Because I'd already had two surgeries in my uterus for fibroids my doctors said I needed to have a scheduled C-section. They are scary and difficult to recover from, but honestly not as bad as what you are anticipating and worrying about. I'll give you a real account of what it was like for me.

The C-section surgery
I went in for my surgery about two hours before it was supposed to start, around 6 a.m. That gave us time to register and complete paperwork, change our clothes, have me be hooked up to monitors, start an IV of fluids, etc. You can't eat anything the night before - if you know ahead of time that you're having a C-section. My husband was given scrubs to put on also.

Then I walked down the hallway toward the surgery room. I started getting nervous then because it was the only time my husband could not go with me. They gave me a spinal to numb me from the waist down. That was the worst part. I had to hold really still, which is challenging with contractions, even minor ones like I was experiencing. A nurse held a pillow in front of me to hold me still while they put the needle in my back. It was the worst part of the whole experience, but then it was over and instantly Jared was back at my side.

As I lay down the doctor was telling me she was pricking me with a small pin, asking if I felt it, then with a surgery tool. Then it just happened so quickly. I don't even know how it happened that fast. There were all kinds of nurses and my doctor and bright lights. A curtain was up in front of me so I could not see what was happening below my chest. Jared could stand up if he wanted to watch the whole thing. Within moments of them starting they told me I'd feel some tugging, which I did. It was not painful at all, just a strange sensation, very minor. I didn't even know they'd started, and before I knew it the doctor was telling Jared to get ready (because he wanted to be the one to shout out if it was a girl or a boy). Then they lifted my baby up over the curtain, into the air so I could see him. And he was out. It was amazing and incredibly fast. From the moment they cut into me until the second he took his first breath outside of my belly could not have been more than six minutes.

They instantly took the baby over to the weight table to clean off. Within minutes he was in my arms and by my face so I could kiss him. Then Jared got to hold him. The whole time they are still working on my belly, but I don't feel any of it. Then about 20 minutes later maybe (I'm not sure) Jared and Owen went to our recovery room to do some more tests and take his footprints, while I stayed where I was to be sewn up. Very shortly thereafter I was wheeled in the bed down the hall back to the room we started in to recover. Within a half hour we allowed our parents to come in and see the little man briefly, before we were again rolled away toward our hospital room where we'd stay the duration of the time there. We were there 5 days, but most people stay in the hospital 4 days for a C-section.

That whole first day I did not get out of bed once, mostly because I was hooked up to a tube to urinate. I took some pretty heavy duty pain meds the next few days and it did hurt, I won't lie. It feels very strange in your abdomen area when you try to walk or stand up. You do have to take it really slow.


Since I know how that process goes I can relate to what it is like in the recovery stage afterward. Here are a few tips for surviving the C-section experience.

1. Let people help you. You are going to be sore, won't be able to walk much, climb stairs or drive for a while. You will need to let people help you. It's just a given.

2. Move the changing table downstairs. If the baby room is upstairs, move the changing supplies downstairs so you don't have to climb the stairs very much.

3. Don't lift things. Not even the laundry basket. Just listen to your doctor and focus on the baby.

4. Move around a little bit each day. You won't feel like wanting to do it but it does speed up your recovery. Even in the hospital, if you feel up to it a couple days after surgery try getting out of bed to walk around a bit. Just take it slow. Walking around the hospital room for three minutes is enough!

5. Eat as you need to, especially fruits and veggies to help with recovery. Don't worry about getting rid of that baby weight. Just take care of yourself.

6. Build up your iron. After a C-section you typically will lose more blood than is normal for your iron levels. Eat lots of food with iron in them like green leafy vegetables like spinach, or even start taking iron supplements. Your doctor will let you know if you need those.

7. Check on the incision site. It will be covered with tape, but you should check it each day just to be sure it doesn't look very different or infected.

8. Bleeding is normal. You will want to keep some sanitary pads around. If the bleeding gets really bad, call your doctor. It should be similar to a heavy period. I noticed one day when I did a little too much around the house and was on my feet too much I was bleeding really bad. Resting, with your feet up helps.


9. Have lots of pillows. The drive home from the hospital is especially painful, you will feel every bump on the road. Having a pillow to hold over your stomach helps a bit. It also helps to have pillows around while you are resting on the couch or in bed.

10. REST! Lay down, sleep, rest as often as possible. You just went through major surgery. You will require lots of rest to get back to feeling more normal.

11. Do not push it- even at 4-6 weeks when you feel drastically better, you are not entirely better. You still need to rest. You should not overdue the taking walks or doing household chores. The doctors tell you 8 weeks recovery time for a reason. Use that time to take care of yourself and focus on your baby.

A C-section is major surgery. It's not just a walk in the park. Don't expect too much from yourself after having one. Just take your time to recover. It gives you even more of an excuse to just relax and enjoy your newborn baby and the time together.

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