Seven years ago I went into the hospital to have my labor induced after carrying my daughter for 10 months with lots of problems during the entire pregnancy. I thought the day of her birth would mean the end of my pregnancy problems, but I was wrong. I went in at about six in the morning and had my water broke, then I was placed on an IV drip, which would start my contractions and force labor. After the contractions and pain set in I was given Morphine to help, but I had a reaction to it and began vomiting violently. Between dozing in and out of my Morphine induced thoughts and dreams I was screaming in pain. I was given a local anesthetic that numbed me from the waist down – in my opinion this was not a good choice because no one told me I would loose all control of my bladder and bowels, so every time I coughed or vomited from the reaction, the outcome would be pretty gross. I was in labor 17 hours before my midwife and doctor decided to do an emergency c-section because my blood pressure went up to dangerously high levels and cardiac arrest was possible. Hopefully some of this information will help you as you face your delivery date with no surprises.
Having a c-section is not as horrible or scary as it may seem. In most cases, c-sections require the use of an Epidural, unless, of course, the physical conditions of the mother prohibit its use. The Epidural is given right before going into the operating room. You remain awake and partially coherent during the entire procedure. You will be strapped to an operating table for your own safety with your arms in right angles to your body. Warm towels will be placed on your arms and upper chest to help relax you. To me, this was quite calming and I appreciated the considerate gesture greatly. When the incision is made, to me, it feels like being shaved, and that’s what I thought was going on until I heard the doctor say that they were about to go into the uterus to retrieve the baby. Years ago, c-section incisions were made below the navel going vertically down the stomach in a straight line, but now, because of problems that quite a few women had with their incisions opening up, it is made horizontally. You won’t remember everything but you will remember most of it. My surgery took no longer than 20 minutes from the time the first incision was made until the time I was sewn up.
The healing time varies from woman to woman but it should be about 2 weeks until all motor skills and functions have returned. You won’t be able to stand up straight for at least a week after having the surgery, so take it easy, because if you stress your muscles before they are ready, you will only prolong the healing time. I’m sure you’d rather spend your time with your new addition rather than in bed resting. The muscles in the stomach as well as the uterus are recovering and need to be treated with gentle but firm physical therapy to regain complete movement. Your bed might be hard to get in and out of when you first come home from the hospital so have your significant other, friend, or family member make up the couch for you to sleep on with a bassinet set beside it. Breast feeding can be difficult right after having a c-section, especially for women that have an emergency c-section. You may planned to only breastfeed your child, but it is acceptable to start off with formula and then, when you’re feeling up to it, gradually switch over to breast milk. The healing cut on the abdomen can feel like it is splitting apart by the pressure of standing or walking, and can be especially painful when coughing or sneezing, so hugging a pillow against your tummy can help to reduce the pressure. During this healing time a small decorative pillow can become your new best friend. Try to avoid lifting objects over 10 pounds at first, just add a little more weight when you don’t feel a strain on your stomach.
A c-section doesn’t have to be scary, in fact, lots of women go through it voluntarily so that they will be spared the physical labor of pushing and bearing down and the toll it takes on their bodies. Even if a c-section is not a part of your birth plan, you should read about it anyhow. I did and I can honestly say that I was prepared even though my c-section was an emergency. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or midwife lots of questions about every aspect of your upcoming delivery, it’s better to go into a situation prepared than blind – and can make it a much less frightening experience.