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The big day is here and you’re ready. Then the unexpected happens and you have to have a c-section. Find out how to prepare for a c-section when you weren’t planning on having one.
I was one of “those” Moms. The wide-eyed, naive new Mama full of all her hopes and Pinterest dreams for an amazing birth experience. I can tell you that a c-section was not part of my plan. And to make sure I got my dream delivery, I carefully typed up a detailed birth plan. I was ready to turn this over to the Labor and Delivery nurses as soon as I arrived at the hospital. I can imagine now them taking the multi-page document back to their station and having a pretty terrific laugh at the non-negotiable items listed inside it.
Those sweet, amazing nurses took my birth plan from me with a smile. It was a knowing smile. A smile that said we hope that things go your way, but all the while knowing that sometimes they just don’t. Sometimes a beautifully planned natural delivery turns into an unplanned or even an emergency c-section.
What to Expect When you are NOT Expecting a C-Section
Expect to Be Emotional
Your hormones are going crazy, and the excitement and anticipation have been building up so when they tell you that they think you will need a c-section you might start crying. You might be afraid, and you might have a ton of questions. All of this is normal. If you need to take a minute (and you’re not in an emergency situation), then do it. Ask to speak to your doctor if they aren’t there already. My c-section wasn’t an emergency, but it wasn’t planned either. My doctor was able to check me once more before ultimately deciding that a c-section was best. If you need to cry a little, then cry. While my husband and I had discussed that we would do whatever was necessary to make sure that our daughter and I were safe and that meant a possible c-section, I really wasn’t mentally prepared. I needed a minute to cry, and that was ok.
Expect Your Medical Staff to Be Matter of Fact
I had the dream team of the Labor and Delivery unit. They were kind and patient and accommodating. But, when it was time to discuss the c-section they were to the point. Expect your staff to tell you exactly what is going on and why they think a c-section is needed. It might all sound very clinical and not at all warm and fuzzy like bringing a baby into the world should feel like. It’s ok. They are just doing their jobs. Their number one goal is to hand you a healthy baby, and they don’t really have time to sugar coat things.
Expect the Nurses and Doctor to Work Fast
Once it is decided that you will need a c-section a whole team of nurses will come in to start prepping you. For me, it all happened so fast. I had people all around me touching me, lifting up my gown, changing out medicines. It was crazy. Before I knew it, I was in the operating room sheets up all around me with my arms stretched out in the usual t position you have seen in a thousand pictures from other c-section Mamas. It felt like a dream.
Expect to be Separated from your Spouse for a Short Time
On the outside, I was super quiet, but on the inside, I was freaking out when I went into the OR, and my husband was not with me. I remember looking up and seeing him sitting outside the door. He had to get his OR gear on, and they had to make sure the room was super sterile before he could join me.
Expect to Be Warm During Surgery
I didn’t read anything about having a c-section because in my mind I wasn’t going to be having one. One surprising thing was how warm I was. They used a heater fan to blow on me, and it was seriously the best thing ever. I was so cozy which honestly made the whole experience a little better.
What to Expect After a C-Section
Every woman’s c-section experience is unique but here are some things you can probably expect after a c-section.
Expect to be Separated from Your Baby
More and more hospitals are moving towards a family-centered c-section. But if yours still operates in a traditional way you can expect to be separated from your baby for just a short time. Baby will stay with dad and get cleaned up while the doctor sews up your incision. If you are lucky and you also have a dream team medical staff as I had you will be back in the room within 15 minutes holding your new bundle of joy.
Expect that you will not be able to walk for 24 hours
To have a c-section, they have to completely numb you from the waist down. This I knew. What I didn’t expect is that I wouldn’t be able to walk for 24 hours. The medicine needs time to wear off, you probably haven’t walked in more than a day, and you have a huge incision it’s going to take some time to get back into the swing of things.
Expect to be very, very, very sore
You have just had major abdominal surgery. Like major. You will be in a lot of pain. I highly recommend following all of your doctor’s aftercare instructions to the letter. Check out our friends at The C-Section Store for products that can provide you comfort and support during your recovery.
The MOST Unexpected Thing about Having a C-Section
What surprised me the most about having a c-section was the profound sense of loss I felt. Even as I type this, I am tearing up, four years later. We knew this would be our only child but even if we were to have more the chances of finding a doctor willing to perform a VBAC was small. Even if your doctor will, the hospital still has to allow it.
I felt cheated out of a “normal” delivery. I had forever missed my chance of experiencing a vaginal birth. This isn’t something I dwell on daily but it is apart of my story, and unless you have elected to have a c-section it just might be apart of yours too. I felt like a failure, my body let me down, there was more I could have done. I had gotten all the way to the finish line and couldn’t cross it. It’s ok to grieve the loss of this pivotal moment in your pregnancy. But do not think for one second that you have failed because you haven’t.
You also might be tempted to downplay a c-section as not being a delivery. Many c-section moms have trouble saying they delivered a baby. You might even hear from other moms that a c-section isn’t delivery. Let me throw some Webster your way. Delivery is the process of giving birth. Birth by definition is the emergence of a child from its mother’s body. That’s it. That is the definition of delivery. You 100% delivered your child.
There is no “normal” way to have a baby there is only the best way for you and baby. Having a c-section isn’t the end of the world. Having some idea of what to expect will help.
What questions do you have about c-sections? If you have had a c-section what advice can you offer expecting moms?
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