Preparing to give birth for the first time is a little like preparing for a trip where you have no idea where you’re going. You can spend hours coming up with the perfect birth plan, pack a bag full of all the “essentials”, take hours upon hours of childbirth classes, and you’ll STILL be thrown for a loop when the time finally comes.
I didn’t make a birth plan, per se, but having a c-section was definitely not part of the plan I had made in my mind. Then again, neither was having a 9 lbs 7 oz baby. I thought he’d be about 8.5, max. Anyway, I was open to the idea of a c-section if I needed one, but I didn’t let myself think much about it. It was always Plan B, and no one really spends all that much time thinking about Plan B. So I skipped those articles on BabyCenter.com, and skimmed what little is covered about it in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Because what I was expecting, was a 8lbs baby, born in the evening, after maybe 10 hours of relatively painless laboring thanks to my friend Mr. Epidural.
So while we’re on the topic of the unexpected, I thought I’d share some of my observations from the whole c-section/recovery process. Just in case you ever find yourself in such a situation. Consider it “c-section cliffs notes”.
- First, just in case a surprise c-section happens, be sure to pack at least one c-section friendly post-delivery outfit. I took a nursing gown so I wouldn’t have to deal with pants hitting my incision area. And the other outfit I packed had pants that could be pulled up to my belly button without looking completely stupid.
- Epidurals really are as great as everyone says. Unless you have a reaction (uncontrollable shaking or itchy legs are common reactions). It stings a little going in, but it’s a momentary pinch and burning sensation that’s over within five seconds. After that, bliss.
- Catheters can be wonderful things. I was worried about having a catheter but thanks to the epidural, I never felt it go in and taking it out long after my epidural had worn off was painless. You never feel the urge to pee. It just magically appears in your little urine bag. I’m pretty sure I asked the hubs to check my bag a few times, just because I was curious how much was collecting in there. And I actually asked the nurse to leave it in a little longer than she had planned, simply because I wasn’t ready to start walking yet and wanted a few more hours of recovery/nap time without feeling the urge to pee.
- Hospital room service is fantastic, but after about three days, the menu choices are definitely limited. Breakfast had the best food selection so even though I’m not a huge breakfast person, we made a point to order as much as possible from the breakfast menu. And since they give you so much, the hubs and I were able to share.
Waffle, cranberry juice, coffee, Raisin Bran, donut, fresh fruit
- Pain pills cause constipation. The nurses will give you Colace, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll need a little extra help when you get home. So if you don’t have a regular stock of stool softeners or laxatives, get some. Likewise, if you don’t have a regular stock of bathroom wipes and Preparation H, get some. (Side note: even though I stopped taking my pain pills before the end of the first week, I had a painful bathroom issue so bad that I ended up taking a pain pill for THAT. Sad, but true.)
- Speaking of pain pills, if the kind you’re given at the hospital make you feel weird/nauseous, ask for another kind. There’s more than one way to manage pain.
- Clean your incision area daily with soap and water. It’s not easy to shower daily those first few days at home, but I forced myself to do it because it was the best way to ensure I’d take care of my incision.
- Stock up on pads and loose underwear. Bleeding lasts about 4-6 weeks and is basically like having a month-long period. And it does not matter whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section – you will have bleeding. Also, my incision is located right on my bikini line so my low-rise underwear sit right on top of the bandages. I used the mesh underwear from the hospital for the first couple of days, but when I ran out, started wearing my maternity underwear since they’re loose around the top.
Any burning questions? And from the c-section experienced mamas, anything else I forgot to mention?