It helps to be prepared for the unexpected. Natural childbirth is stressful enough, so an unforeseen C-section can likely double that. Take it from my first-hand experience. I thought I got my first childbirth thoroughly planned, yet I didn’t include the possibility of undergoing an emergency cesarean delivery.
My baby’s heartbeat had declined and I was also panicking myself. It was an anxious and terrifying experience for me and my partner back then. Looking back during those times, I might not have been too much of a harrowing experience if I had prepared myself enough.
Delivery through C-Section: How it goes like
If you are pregnant right now, I advise that you to consider the possibility that (knock on wood) you will go under the surgeon’s knife. Or your doctor might have already planned this type of delivery for you due to some reasons. It helps to be informed of the expectations, coping and recovery strategies; so that you may maintain your sanity and energy while still enjoying that precious time with your new baby.
What can be expected with this type of delivery? C-section is like an operation, your doctor will see to it that it goes smooth and with least pain as possible. When compared, it’s more painful to deliver through vaginal birth as you’ll not receive anesthesia unlike with C-section. The downside is that you’ll lose more blood due to surgery and you’ll also experience lots of post-operative pain.
Most expectant mothers also worry about whether it will rob them of the precious birth experience or that they’ll be unconscious and not remember anything. Let me tell you that you’ll usually be awake during the operation, just numb. Since you are awake during the operation, you will also get to see your baby immediately. You will usually be allowed to hold your little one while the doctor is stitching you back. It will be quick as the whole procedure usually takes less than an hour.
To calm down your anxiety, talk in length with your OB-Gyne before delivery. Ask your doctor about the various scenarios that may happen. Be open and ask lots of questions. He/she is the best person to help you prepare and align your expectations.
Reasons Behind your Doctor’s C-Section Recommendation
Vaginal delivery is always your doctor’s first choice. When cesarean delivery is required, it is mostly due to at least one of the following conditions:
- You had a previous C-section delivery.
The decision may weight on the type of incision that you had previously. A vertical incision is riskier. It will also depend on whether the reason behind your previous C-section had not manifested this time around. Not all doctors can do a vaginal birth after C-Section (VBAC) since it is a difficult procedure. It helps to ask your doctor about this starting in your first trimester so that you can prepare.
- Your baby is in a difficult position/breech
Babies are usually positioned upside down (head first) as this is the easiest way for them to go down. C-section might be indicated for babies that are positioned bottom first or transverse (shoulder or sideways).
- You are carrying twins or more
Twins or triplets can also be delivered naturally but your doctor will most likely take the safest approach through C-section. The risks are higher for multiple births as they can get physically distressing for your unborn children.
- You had previous abdominal surgery or another health problem
It is important to divulge thoroughly your previous medical history with your current OB-Gyne. If you have an old incision at your abdominal area due to an operation, it might rupture during normal delivery. Other conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension or heart disease can also be risky and is a cause for C-section delivery.
- You had a large baby
This usually happens for babies born to diabetic mothers. This type of condition may either be gestational diabetes or due to chronic diabetes mellitus. In other cases, the mother’s pelvis might be too small or the baby’s head is too large in diameter to pass naturally. For these, it is safer to go under the knife.
- You have placenta previa
This condition is potentially dangerous for natural childbirth as this can cause you to bleed profusely and lose more blood than usual. This happens when the placenta is lower than normal and covers the opening of your cervix.
- Your baby has reduced heart rate during your labor
This is too dangerous for the baby. This is also the reason behind fetal distress. Inadequate heartbeat will also result in less oxygen being received by the baby. The baby might get long-term complications and might even die unless an emergency C-section happens.
- Your birth canal/cervix didn’t dilate enough
Your baby cannot pass down unless there is enough space. For this, your cervix must dilate in full at around 10 centimeters. It might also be due to inadequate contractions as this stimulates dilatation.
Helpful Tips During and After C-Section Delivery
- Shaking due to chills at the delivery and recovery room is expected.
You’ll shake like an epileptic and the room will feel icy cold. Bring a lot of warm blankets. Ask your partner to read it immediately after the operation. In some cases, they will even restrain your arms before the C-section due to the shakes. This can happen so it helps to be prepared.
- You can feel panicked, nauseous or out of breath.
Having a C-section is like undergoing major abdominal surgery. Have your partner or family member to accompany you to the delivery room for comfort and support.
- You might feel intense itching all over during the operation or at post-op.
If this is the case, inform your doctor or nurse as soon as this happens. You might be allergic to pain medication and the drip must be stopped immediately.
- You have to walk, regardless if it is painful and difficult.
Pain and exhaustion are normal. It will hurt a lot just to get up, let alone walk. You need to walk sooner and it will be painful. While at the hospital, your nurses can help you and cheer you up. Walking is imperative; no matter how difficult and painful it is since it will make your recovery faster.
- Pain medication is a sanity saver.
Pain is expected to start on day one. It hurts to move, to lean down, to sneeze, cough, and laugh. While at the hospital, it is best not to skip on pain medications such as narcotics. You can even ask for more if you feel so. Do not worry that it might get you hooked; your nurses will help you to regulate it. You can wean off strong pain medications before you go home. To help with controlling pain, you can use an abdominal binder. This will help to hold your incision in place and provide your tummy support while you move.
- You will get water retention, but it’s just temporary.
You will get swollen all over due to the IV-fluids administered to you while on labor and all throughout confinement. Your ring, clothes, and shoes might not fit. This is expected and will gradually lessen in a few days. Walking and moving around will help tremendously with water retention.
- You can’t move due to pain so ask for help
Your tummy muscles might feel like ripping apart with just the simple act of sitting or lying down. Let your partner hold and look over the baby for the first weeks post-partum. There are some things that you just can’t do alone. Ask for assistance while taking a shower. Pick a comfortable position and prop along lots of pillows and supporters. It might be a challenge to climb the bedroom upstairs.
It’s OK to relocate on the first floor until you can safely climb up. If holding the baby while nursing is too painful or if you cannot lie flat, use a recliner or a nursery glider as your temporary bed and resting place. Do not be tempted to do all the chores. Resist the urge to lift weights heavier than a liter of water. This can mean not being able to lift your baby for at least two weeks after delivery. Do not drive for at least three weeks. Try to go easy and take a lot of rest during the day.
- You might not produce breast milk immediately
If this is the case, seek help from your doctor or from a lactation consultant before you get discharged from the hospital. In some cases, your milk might even take a week to go down. Do not get stressed and continue to pump no matter how futile it seems. Let baby latch on you as there might be a few drops of colostrum that can drip out. There are lots of foods that can help to stimulate breast milk production; your nurse or doctor can advise you on this.
- You won’t poop for a few days and it’s expected.
You will not likely take a dump while confined at the hospital. There are times when just the mere act of pooping can scare you due to the pain. Your nurses will also pester you with questions such as whether you had already farted. Don’t be surprised since it is standard procedure, they won’t discharge you home unless you do. Stool softeners and laxatives can help; it won’t hurt to ask your doctor for it.
- Be prepared, you will bleed a lot
Bleeding doesn’t stop after delivery up to about 4 to 6 weeks. Always wear a thick pad or even adult diapers to contain the bleeding. Your post-partum period might look like a hemorrhage but it is OK. The amount of bleeding after C-section is more as compared to after vaginal delivery.
- Watch out of signs of infection
Fever, increased pain, redness, drainage from the incision and swelling might mean a developing infection. Have your doctor’s number accessible on your mobile phone. Ask him/her for advice if you observe any of such symptoms.
Having a C-section delivery isn’t easy. Sacrifices and discomfort are all parts of parenting. Prepare and arm yourself with information, regardless of your doctor says that you’ll not need it. There is no harm in knowing more, it will also help to alleviate your anxiety during labor. Childbirth begins with a nine-month pregnancy so you must get ready early. Preparation will not exempt you from the pain, but it will at least make your childbirth less stressful and more memorable. Cheers to you brave mom!