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Friday, December 29, 2017

preparing for a c-section: what you really need to know

People in the Mommy Stories Facebook group ask often about how to prepare for a C-section- what to pack for the hospital stay, how the recovery will be, etc. Sometimes you aren't prepared for a cesarean, you go into the hospital thinking you will deliver vaginally and then sometimes plans change. Other times, like me, you have had former surgeries that make it necessary for you to go in with a planned C-section. I've done that three times, so I thought it was time to share some tips with you mommas. Hopefully this helps!

First, it's scary, yes, I won't deny that. Being told they are going to cut into your belly while there is a baby swimming around in there, yeah that's frightening. BUT they do this every day, many times a day, for many years, that's what my husband reassured me over and over before every surgery. They do this every day. They know what they are doing. I'm in good hands. Repeat that to yourself if you need help calming down.

Things to buy ahead of time (or on your way home from hospital if you were not prepared for a C-section):
  • Stool softeners- you'll need these at least a few days to a week to soften things up and not have to feel the urge to push when going to the bathroom. 
  • Pain meds- Extra strength Tylenol and Ibuprofen are necessary. I alternated these. The first 4-5 days I took half the dose suggested of Oxy Codone, and then quickly tried weaning off those. They are necessary, take them. But after a few days, rely on the other pain meds. 
  • Iron-filled foods- You need your red meat, spinach, raisin bran, etc. the days post-surgery to restore your blood counts and iron. So important for your energy. Make sure you ask your doctor post-recovery visit to check your anemia levels.
  • Meals- You will NOT be cooking for a while. Standing up and moving makes your blood flow worse. You need to be sitting and resting as much as possible post-surgery so have some freezer meals ready or frozen pizzas- it's all good.
  • Pads- heavy duty ones. Lots. You will use these for weeks. 
  • Large water bottle- Keep yourself hydrated to avoid sickness and help restore your energy. Also you don't want to have to get up and down often from the couch, so a larger bottle keeps it filled longer.
  • Stool- You won't be able to get out of your bed too easily, especially if it's a high bed. Get a step stool or something to assist you at first.

Things to pack in your hospital bag:
  • Comfy, stretchy pants- I brought two pairs of comfy black maternity pants. They were what I wore in the hospital and what I wore home. Your incision is right above your bikini line, you don't want anything bothering it. No need for real pants.
  • Flip flops- Even if in the middle of winter! My son was born in early February, and on the way home my feet were so swollen that in the car I had to reach down to rip off my socks and shoes, and wore flip flops into the house. It was cold, but my feet hurt so bad! You will also like flip flops in the hospital when walking around, along with those comfy socks they give you.
  • Low cut underwear - So they don't bother your incision. 
  • Loose socks- nothing tight, you are pumped full of fluids with a C-section and your feet swell even more after surgery. Having loose socks or lower ankle ones will help to not cut off circulation on discharge on the way home.

Things to enjoy while in the hospital:
  • Anxiety meds- I didn't need these, but I know many women do and there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes they can give you something to calm you down before a surgery. If you need it, take it.
  • Mesh undies- These are the best part about having a C-section. Most comfy supportive thing ever. Keep these. Stock these in your bag to go home. Do it! You won't regret it. In fact, there will come a day where you are sad these no longer grace your presence. Enjoy.
  • Walking- Yes, so important to do as soon as you can, walk slowly around the hospital floor, pushing the baby in the bassinet if you can do that and holding on to your partner's hand. It's so helpful with moving things along with your intestines and gas, etc. Enjoy these small, quiet, slow moments.
  • Extra pillows- They give you about 6 pillows - just for you! It's amazing. You will need these to sit comfortably to nurse, hold baby, rest, and get yourself out of bed. Enjoy!
  • Belly binders- These are wonderful things. They hold everything tighter so you feel less pain. It's helpful to have one of these to go home with.
  • Milk of Magnesia- Nobody likes to talk about gas, but here we go.... The first bowel movement post-surgery is pretty challenging and takes a while... like you can't go home until it happens. They physically take out your insides and put them on a table while they deliver your baby - something my husband witnessed and didn't tell me about until months after my first C-section! Ah! So... they want to ensure things are back in good working order before you leave the hospital. They also pump you full of gas and fluids... it's a mess in there. So... to make things easier, a few hours before discharge on your last day, take Milk of Magnesia drink (yucky chalk tasting but not the worst thing), and it helps. Within an hour you're typically good to go... 
C-sections are scary, but they are routinely done. You should feel safe and secure in your doctor's hands. It's never something I'd choose, but after having to go through them three times I know now that they are OK and you CAN get through it. Stay positive- that's probably the most important part.

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