Top 15 things people don't tell you about a C-section
Opting for a scheduled C section may not be everyone's idea of how to give birth, but for me it was the only way I ever considered. Pushing a tiny human out of my nether regions just didn't quite appeal and (for numerous other reasons!) a C section ended up being the right option for me. But what is a Caesarian actually like? Is it as gruesome as some people make out? Do you REALLY feel tugging and is it possible to actually feel the surgeons knife slice your tummy in two (no, the answer is no)?
Today I'm sharing the brutally honest truth behind have a C section...warts and all.
There will be blood
You may think that by having a C section you get to avoid some of the nasties (such as post birth bleeding.) Unfortunately, this isn't the case. Even though you haven't given birth via your nether regions, everything that was inside you when you were pregnant (blood, mucus and uterine tissue) needs to come out. So for the next 6 weeks you will be wearing sanitary towels. Another word of warning - the blood can be quite heavy so don't freak out when you have that first trip to the loo. It's completely normal.
People will still look at your bits
Yup. It's the honest truth. As I said above, you will bleed after a C section. And when you bleed, nurses want to check it (to make sure that everything is all ok and normal.) So, throughout my stay in hospital, every couple of hours a nurse would poke her head around the door and ask to look in my knickers. Oh yes, the glamour...
You'll get the shakes
After I had Rupert I was taken to the recovery room and started shaking uncontrollably. Not in a horrible, scary way, but more in a 'why am I shaking, ha ha" way. The reason for this, I was assured by the midwives, was that when you have a spinal block, your temperature can drop and immediately after surgery you will feel very cold and get the shakes. Thankfully the midwives are there to wrap you up in lovely warm blankets (and you are so fascinated by the little bundle of joy you are holding that you don't really even notice!)
There are a lot of people in the operating room...
You might think it's just going to be you, your hubby, the doctor delivering the baby and a few nurses right? WRONG. Thankfully I was warned about this at my NCT class (We had to 'act out a scene' for a C section and were all given 'roles' just to reiterate how many people would be in the room.) But for those of you who thought it would be just a extra nurse, here's who is likely to be present:
- a midwife who is dedicated to the baby and will do all the little checks on him/her when born
- a consultant obstetrician or registrar (e.g. the main person who who does the surgery)
- the obstetrician's assistant
- an anaesthetist, who gives you the drugs to numb you (FAVOURITE PERSON IN THE WORLD)
- An anaesthetic nurse
- a paediatric resuscitation team, in case your baby needs help and isn't breathing when born
- a scrub nurse (do you watch Grey's anatomy? You know the little chinese woman who always passes the docs instruments - that's a scrub nurse!)
- one or two theatre nurses
- Student midwives (If you have given permission)
So thats AT LEAST 10 people. Quite the cosy little number.
And....They will ask you to introduce yourself
Imagine this: You are lying, half paralysed (thank you Spinal block, you little saviour you!) on the operating theatre and you know you are about to have your tummy cut open. Suddenly, your doctors pokes their head around the screen (that is put up to stop you seeing the op) and announces that everyone in the room is going in introduce themselves. So before you know it, you have all the nurses, anaesthetist and assistants telling you their names and their job titles. Then it gets to you and you realise everyone is looking at you patiently. I must admit, I did have a giggle at this point. Was I really expected to tell everyone my name and my role in todays operating theatre? It seems so. So it was announced that I am "Tiffany and I am the soon to be mother" (just incase no-one realised that already!)
You'll have to wear a really ugly hat
I wasn't prepared for this. How do men manage to look all sexy and 'McDreamy-like' in their scrubs and us women look, well, like this.
You can't wear contact lenses
Again, to add to the glamour, you have to don your glasses (I NEVER wear my glasses in public so this was particularly horrifying for me!)
It take a while to be sewn up
Rupert was born within 5 minutes of the surgery starting, but the sewing up took nearly 45 minutes. I've been assured this is the case for most C sections. The thing is, you really won't notice. You will have your new baby on your chest and nothing else will matter. I am a WIMP when it comes to surgery but even I didn't notice the length of time it took to stitch me back up.
You have to injet yourself
Thankfully a close friend who had had a C section before warned me about this. Once you have your C section you have to inject yourself with blood thinner for the next 5/6 days. When you are in the hospital the nurses will do this for you (it's a quick and painless stab in the upper thigh) but when you get home you have to do it yourself. I cannot tell you how long I must have sat there when I first had to inject myself, needle poised above my thigh, unable to put it in. In the end I had to recruit Patrick to do it for me and thankfully it was as painless as experience as the times in hospital. It really is a tiny little needle and doesn't hurt in the slightest.
You'll be quizzed about embarrassing body functions and asked to wee into a cardboard bowl
When I was first handed the cardboard bowl and told to put it into the loo and wee into it, I was horrified. Why on earth would I want to do that? And even worse, how did I hide my embarrassment when minutes later nurse came in the collect the said cardboard bowl with my urine inside? I was later assured that, again, this is standard practice and the reason they do it is to check the amount of urine you are excreting, and also the amount of blood. Yes, it's disgusting, but the nurses didn't even bat an eyelid - it's just part and parcel of giving birth.
You will have a catheter in and the nurse will have to remove it at some point
The catheter probably scared me more than the surgery to be honest. When would they put it in? Would I feel it? How would they take it out? I was literally plagued with horror movie type scenarios of having the tube inserted. So, here's what happened, warts and all: 1) The catheter is inserted AFTER you have had the epidural/spinal block so you don't feel a single thing (if you are worried that this might not be the case and that your doctor may suggest doing it before the block, then just request that it is done afterwards.) 2) Having the catheter in after the surgery is actually the biggest relief ever. After 9 months of having to pee ALL THE TIME, you can actually spend 24 hours not having to rush to the bathroom. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed not having to do those middle of the night loo trips! 3) Having it taken out is the EASIEST THING IN THE WORLD. I thought I would have to lie on my back, legs akimbo whilst a nurse yanked it out of my bladder, but it's not the case at all. The nurse simple just takes it out by slowly withdrawing the tube whilst you're lying in bed cooing at your baby (it is the most simple and quickest thing in the world and didn't hurt even in the slightest.) I didn't even know had happened!
You have to shave your bikini line (or it will get shaved for you!)
You have been warned. Get yourself to the nearest beauticians ASAP before your C section to avoid the humiliation os a midwife coming at you, brandishing a BIC razor the morning of your surgery.
Your incision will be numb for a long time
Again apparently this is entirely normal but it can freak you out the first time you touch your scar and realise you can't feel a thing.
You can ask for a 'gin and tonic' before your spinal block/Epidural
Not a literal Gin and Tonic of course, but you can ask for something to 'relax you' before they give you the spinal block. My anaesthetic was AMAZING (thank you Chelsea and Westminster Hospital) and she actually suggested that she gave me a 'gin and tonic' (her terminology) so that I could relax more. And you know what? I didn't feel a THING when the spinal block went it. Did it space me out for the delivery when the baby was born? No, not at all - I remember everything.
A C-section can actually be completely pain free and wonderful
I can honestly say that my C-section was completely amazing. I am the biggest wimp when it comes to pain, so was petrified at the thought of being cut open and how horrific the recovery might be. Whether it was my fantastic obstetrician (thank you to the wonderful Natasha Singh) or the fact that I knew a C section was the right option for me, the whole experience was easy and pain free. Yes, you read that right. EASY. AND PAIN FREE.I didn't feel a single thing during the surgery (not even the tugging and pulling that people tell you about.) I wasn't in any pain after the surgery (yes, it's probably to do with the pain medication but if you are diligent and take them as often as you are told to then you really don't need to feel any pain.) And the best bit? The recovery wasn't even half as hard as I thought it would be. I had envisaged laying in bed for weeks on end, writhing around in pain whilst trying to breastfeed a new baby, whereas I was actually up and out of bed the day after the op - I even had a shower and washed my hair. So please, if you are due to have a C section then don't let the scaremongering get to you. It really can be completely pain free and wonderful.
Did you have a C section? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below.