Even though a C-Section is major surgery and may seem scary, it doesn’t have to be if you’ve got a better understanding of what it entails. So, we made a list of 6 things you should know about giving birth by C-Section to put your pregnant mind at ease.
1. What is a Caesarean Section?
With a C-Section, the baby is surgically removed from the mother’s uterus through a small incision. The incision is usually horizontal and low enough that it can be covered up by your bikini bottoms. Sometimes C-Sections are done in the event of an emergency, and other times a mother chooses to have a C-Section.
2. Why would I need to have a C-Section?
Giving birth by C-Section may be planned for a variety of reasons, like:
- Your baby has settled in a breech or transverse position.
- You’re carrying more than one baby.
- You have placenta previa.
- You had a C-Section previously and don’t want to (or can’t) have a vaginal birth (known as VBAC).
- You have a health issue that might make traditional childbirth difficult or dangerous.
An emergency C-Section might happen for reasons such as:
- The umbilical cord exits the cervix before the baby.
- The baby’s heart rate is dropping
- The baby is in distress.
- Labor isn’t progressing.
3. How can I get ready for a C-Section?
C-Sections make up about 30% of all births in the U.S. This means you have about a 1 in 3 chance of having one. So the best way to prepare yourself for giving birth by C-Section is to recognize that you might need to have one. Ask your doctor any questions you have about the process, and talk to them about what this might look like for you. If you create a birth plan, don’t get very attached to the idea of everything happening exactly as you want it to. Trying to be chill about your birth plan will help you avoid feelings of guilt, anger, or sadness if it doesn’t.
4. What happens during a C-Section?
You’ll be given an epidural or spinal block, and remain awake during the surgery. After it takes effect, you’ll be numb from the waist down. While you might feel some tugging, you’ll have no feeling during and for a few hours after. Hospital staff will also insert a catheter. Your support person will sit near your head and hold your hand during the C-section. Barring any complications, you’ll see your baby raised overhead, Simba-style in about 30 to 45 minutes.
5. What’s recovery from a C-Section like? How long does it take?
Shortly after the C-section, you might feel cold and to get the shakes. You’ll receive pain medication and stool softeners to help with constipation. Soon, a nurse will come by to get you up and walking. Doctors will have closed your incision with either stitches or staples. If you have staples, they’ll be removed within a few days.
If you feel the need to cough, sneeze, or laugh, apply gentle counter pressure to your incision with a pillow to help with the pain. To avoid rubbing on your incision, wear maternity pants or other loose-fitting clothing.
Most women recover from giving birth by C-Section in 6-8 weeks. But, but of course, everyone’s different.
6. What should I avoid doing as I recover from a C-Section?
For at least 6 weeks, avoid:
- Driving (this one is tricky)
- Vacuuming (this one’s the easiest to avoid!)
- Lifting anything heavier than your baby
- Strenuous exercise
- Swimming or baths
- Sex (you’re healing from major surgery and more likely to get an infection, so you’ll have to Netflix without the chill for a few weeks).