What to Expect After a C-Section

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What is a C-section?

A c-section or cesarean section is a surgical procedure to deliver a baby particularly when delivering vaginally is no longer a safe option.

Many of us have birth plans, and I would bet a lot of money that a c-section is not part of the plan.  It certainly wasn’t part of my plan until it was.

I wanted a natural childbirth not just vaginally but no medication, too.  You can read about my birth experience here.

The Recovery Room After a C-Section

After the actual surgery, I felt pretty good; I won’t lie. Considering a c-section is major surgery, I was surprised by this.  This will not be the case for everyone. We all respond to surgery and anesthesia differently.  If you aren’t feeling pain right away, it does come.  I highly recommend being on top of your pain medication and assuring you get it before you give the pain a chance to come back. (I did not do this.)

Due to having preeclampsia, I am immediately put on magnesium sulfate to prevent seizures and help lower my high blood pressure.  If you find yourself in a similar experience, you can read about my tips for preeclampsia here.  Once given the magnesium sulfate, I cannot get out of bed for at least 24 hours.  The risks associated with preeclampsia go down once the baby is delivered, but the high blood pressure does not go away immediately.  I was still on blood pressure medication and with a moderately high blood pressure for at least 8 weeks postpartum.

I have read about other moms shaking uncontrollably after their surgeries.  Prepare yourself to expect this and to know it could last a long time.  I personally didn’t have this issue.  I was sending text messages out to everyone about the arrival of our baby girl while in recovery.

Depending on your situation and your hospital, you will likely get to spend the time in recovery with your baby.  I did not get to do this. I was in the cold, gray recovery area by myself with the nurse.  There wasn’t even other moms in there; just me.  My baby was in the NICU, and I will see her very briefly before I am taken to my room.  I wouldn’t see her again for 24 hours.

Pain management After a C-Section

How YOU choose to deal with the pain from surgery is strictly up to you.

I originally didn’t want any high dose pain medications because I wanted to make sure my milk was safe for the baby, and I didn’t want to be doped up.

My body is very sensitive to medications.  If it says you will be drowsy, I will be drowsy.  Therefore, when I let the anesthesia from the surgery wear off before I accepted pain meds again, I ended up with morphine.  I was out of commission until the next morning.

Lucky me my baby was in the NICU, I guess.

The next morning, the nurse highly recommended I take at least a middle of the road pain reliever because again, I didn’t want to be high on pain meds.  I wanted to be ready, when they took me off the magnesium, to see my baby.

I was given what is called Toradol for the day after my surgery.

After that, I refused anything that wasn’t Motrin.  I continued the Motrin for 1 week once I was home.

Everyone is different. If you need the hydrocodone, then you should take it.  Only you know what you and your body can handle.

Again, YOU choose how you prefer to handle your pain.  Only YOU can decide that.  You have many options.

Be sure to discuss your wishes with the nurse or doctor.

Fundal Massage

Of all the blogs I read about c-sections, not one told me about what I will tell you next.  I had no idea this was a thing regardless of how you deliver.

A Fundal Massage is done to encourage the uterus  to contract and prevent postpartum hemorrhaging.

The nurse comes in every 10 minutes or so and massages the top of your uterus, the Fundus,

They do this regardless if you have had a c-section or a vaginal birth.  It is incredibly painful.

If you can find a way to relax when the nurse comes in, it will be a lot less painful. However, I know that is easier said than done.

Go ahead and prepare yourself mentally that a nurse will be coming into your room quite often after birth to press/massage your uterus in attempt to prevent hemorrhaging.

Getting Out of Bed After a C-Section

Do NOT try to sit up to get out of bed even when you get home or while you are in the hospital.

You will want to roll to your side and use that arm to slowly push yourself up to a seated position.

For me, the pain was pretty mild unless I needed to change positions while sleeping or get out of bed.

You can even use the opposite arm placed in front of you to push yourself up.

I really don’t recommend trying to get up like normal.

I had to sleep in our guest room when I finally got to go home because our bed was too high, and it hurt to try to get in bed.

If you want to sleep in your own bed and it is too high like mine, consider a step stool to make it easier to get in bed.

Do what makes you comfortable and in the least amount of pain.

I slept with a pillow under my belly for at least a week after coming home.

After Your C-Section, Get moving!

I think because of the preeclampsia I was not forced out of bed like I probably would have been if I did not have it.

I was allowed to walk behind the wheelchair to the NICU, but they did not want me to exert myself.

For the most part, I stuck to being wheeled around by my hubby and walking every now and then.

Start with walking to the bathroom and see how you feel.  Do this until it feels good to you and progress slowly to the door, and so on.

It will be painful at first, but it will make you feel so much better.  Be sure to take it slow.

After your c-section, you will want to move around regardless, it helps the healing and helps your insides start moving appropriately again.

Again take it slow and listen to your body.  If it is telling you to not get up that day, then DON’T.

Consider taking a shower

I felt so gross that I had to take a shower while I was in the hospital.  My husband and I were there for 5 days. I cannot imagine going 5+ days without a shower.  But, I know some of us might not have a choice.

If your hospital is like mine, there will be virtually no water pressure which I am sure is by design, but still.

You will feel rejuvenated if you do decide to shower, so don’t forget to pack your toiletries in your hospital bag.

Accept the stool softener

Even if you think you won’t need it; accept the stool softener when they ask only if you want to, obviously.

Based on a lot of other blogs I read, I was afraid to pee or poop after because I thought it would hurt.  Both were ultimately not that bad, but I think the stool softener definitely helped.

What should you wear?

You can continue to wear your hospital gown if you wish.  It is loose fitting, and it is easy to pull down for you to nurse or pump if this is what you are choosing to do.

I preferred my own clothes.  I had yoga pants with a folding waistband, so I wore these and put the waistband up over my belly.  There was no need to worry about my clothes being nursing friendly because I did not get to attempt nursing until a week later.  A t-shirt and hoodie were life for the next 5 days.

I also highly recommend this belly band.  I wore it during pregnancy and 10-12 weeks postpartum.

You could also wear gowns and robes that are nursing friendly.

Whatever you choose to wear, be sure it is comfortable for you and doesn’t have a tight fitting waistband.  I was bruised all the way to my belly button after my c-section, so I wanted loose comfortable clothes.

I also wore seamless underwear because it felt so much better.

You should buy underwear you don’t mind getting messy or thrown away.  I wore underwear like this once the pain began to subside.

For me, the bleeding wasn’t that bad

The bleeding would come and go for the next 6-8 weeks, for me.  I didn’t need the maxi pads that were bought for me, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need them.  Or, that you won’t bleed a lot because everyone is different.  My nurse specifically said women who have had a c-section don’t typically bleed as much.

I hope you have a smooth recovery and a short stay in the hospital.

I would love to hear from you whether it is in the comments below or through email.  Tell me about your experience.

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2 thoughts on “What to Expect After a C-Section”

  1. They absolutely do the painful stomach press when you deliver vaginally. I only remember getting it once though and it was not very long after delivery.

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