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What to expect from a Caesarean section – a hubbers guide

Pregnant woman lying in hospital bed talking to a nurseIf you need to have a caesarean section, it can be scary if you don’t know what you’re in for.

The best way to curb that fear and stay on top of your nerves is to know what to expect.

From preparation, to how to handle yourself after you’re out of surgery – it really does help to read as much as you can on the topic.

We’ve taken some tips from our learned forum members to help you find out what to expect from a caesarean section – here they are.

  • Teach older children before the surgery that they won’t be able to be picked up for a while after – and to be very gentle with mum after the surgery.
  • The surgery theatre won’t be all clinical and scary – the nurses and doctors will be able to talk to you, sometimes they play music, and if all goes well, you can hold your baby straight away.
  • Ask for your catheter to be put in after your spinal – you won’t feel it this way.
  • If you look at the big light above you in the theatre, you can usually see what’s going on on the other side – either avoid this if you don’t want to see, or utilise it if you do!
  • Make sure your partner has eaten before going in – so many faint!
  • Take advantage of pain relief – you don’t have to be a hero.
  • Remember that breast milk can take longer to come in after a c-section, so don’t panic, just be patient.
  • Listen to how your physio tells you to get out of bed – the roll!
  • Get out of bed and moving as soon as you feel up to it – the longer you stay lying down, the longer your recovery will be – and make sure you stand fully upright when you do get up.
  • Hold a towel or something to your wound when getting up, or coughing, anything strenuous – it makes it feel a little better.
  • Expect that you might need help from your partner or a nurse to do things as simple as sit down on the toilet – don’t be surprised if you need this help, and don’t be embarrassed as this is normal.
  • Make use of the adjustable bed heights – it makes it so much easier to do everything.
  • Be prepared for wind pain – little bubbles of air can get into your stomach and cause a lot of pain, you can ask for de-gas or something similar from the nurse.
  • Don’t go too hard too fast once you’re home – take your lochia (after-birth vaginal bleeding) as a guide; if it’s turning to a brighter red than pink, take it a little easier.
  • Accept all the help you’re offered, especially with cooking and cleaning offers – again, don’t be a hero.
  • Avoid lifting, stretching, weight-bearing – just steady walking to begin with – and when you’re feeling better in a week or two, keep it steady! You may be able to lift/carry/stretch more, but it’ll make you sorer as well.
  • Use a pregnancy/body pillow to make sleeping more comfortable once you’re home.
  • Be prepared to be sore for a while so it doesn’t take you by surprise – you might even be pleasantly surprised if you recover quicker than expected.
  • And finally – remember that everyone is different, and every birth is different, so don’t try to compare recovery times, or pain levels with other mums – or even with your previous births.

Keep these things in mind when you’re going in for your caesarean section, and after when you’re in recovery. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can make everything a lot less scary and less stressful – so read up!

Have a look at what our hubbers think you’ll need to pack for your birth as well!

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2 comments so far -

  1. These are useful tips of some of what to expect after a c-section but, unless it’s written in another section of the site, it might be helpful to write about what to expect before, during and immediately after the c-section itself.

    The thing I personally found invaluable was doing my own research on different options for each potential outcome (home birth, hospital birth, induction, c-section, emergency c-section), including looking at detailed information about the types of drugs typically offered during labour (and possible side effects) and different types of c-section under different types of anaesthetic. This meant I had lots of time to decide what sort of medical care and medication I was comfortable with, felt more in control of the situation and had very clear written instructions on what I wanted to happen in various situations (e.g. attitude to receiving blood transfusions, the level of tear I would want stitches for and whether I wanted pain relief for the stitches, whether I was prepared to have a med student present / performing procedures). So, even though I had initially thought I would have a home birth, when the need arose for an emergency c-section, I had a general understanding of what was going on and I could answer questions quickly about my wishes.

    The thing I wish someone had warned me about was that about 2 weeks after the birth, some women have a brief period of sudden, intense, painful, gushing bleeding (scary when you have haemeraged during / after labour, as it feels exactly the same). For me, this lasted 24hrs before going back to normal post-birth bleeding levels. I went back to the hospital and they couldn’t give me a reason for it, just that it happens to some women and not to others.

    • Hi Ema, Thanks for reading and thanks for your reply. I completely agree. Knowledge is definitely power and by making sure you knew what you had to know, you could make informed choice and have some control over what can be uncontrollable circumstances.

      Thanks again. x

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