10 Things to Know About Getting A C-Section and the Recovery Process

no, c-sections are not easier

I am FLOORED by the number of people who think having a c-section is "an easy way" to give birth. I made a TikTok discussing what products helped me recover after giving birth vaginally, and the comments were shocking. This video received almost 11 million views, so a lot of people had a lot to say. The most common comment was, "Is anyone else thinking a c-section instead of this?"

You can imagine those who have had a c-section were quick to chime in and assure them it is not easier.

Now, of course, there are always exceptions, and every women's birth experience is different, but here is what I learned about the c-section process and recovery from other mamas.

I have never had a c-section, but here at Horton Lane, I like to use my small platform to help all mamas in any small way I can. So I reached out to my amazing readers and asked those with experience with a cesarian if they would be willing to share.

Below are the key points I learned from talking with these incredible women and my own research. Please keep in mind each hospital is different with different procedures. I am sharing personal experiences from other mothers.

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1) Your Breastmilk May be Delayed, and Feeding May Hurt More

"I packed some lactation cookies and a drink mix in my hospital bag to help with the delay. Most c-sections stay in the hospital for at least 48hrs, so prepare for that." Allison

"Breastfeeding was very uncomfortable with any pressure on my abdomen. The My Breastfriend pillow helped a ton since it acted as a buffer, so his feet didn't rub on my stomach. Wouldn't change a thing, but it took time to recover." -Deb

According to Stanford Children's Health, cesarian deliveries can delay milk production. To build up a good supply, they say, "To feed frequently when your baby shows hunger cues. You may have trouble with delayed or reduced milk production. If that is the case, first take a look at the number and length of your feedings. And make sure that your baby can put their mouth around your nipple to nurse (latch on).

Also, make sure that your baby can transfer milk from your breast. If you have a delay in your milk coming in, don't give up. Continue to express milk. That means removing milk from your breasts with a breast pump or by hand. And continue to breastfeed often. Do this even if you are supplementing with formula for a few days. Babies who are premature or jaundiced are even more likely to need formula for a short time.

2. It May Feel Like Your Guts are Going to Come Out

"The best thing for me was getting the binder (girdle) from the hospital. It made everything feel secure. Get as many of those gauze panties as possible and some gauze strips for your incision." -Allison.

3. Getting Up and Down (On and Off the Bed/Couch) Will be Tricky

"For the first few days after your delivery, expect to stay as still as possible. You'll spend some time recovering in hospital, then see the above tips for keeping pain to a minimum and healing on track. Rely on your partner, friends, family, and older children to help you reduce movement and strain. A cesarean incision is major surgery. Pain medication is recommended to help you move as comfortably as possible since movement will help with digestion and circulation to keep you well and healing.

Don't feel shame or try to "tough it out" - managing pain means you can heal and parent to your best ability in these early days. Give yourself extra time to do everyday tasks. Lifting more than your baby, stretching, straining, and deep bending are not recommended until about 4-6 weeks post-delivery OR until you can do these movements with no pain or strain and your incision feels like it has healed." - Bellybootcamp.ca

4. If your birthing partner is squeamish, have them stay near your head.

"In most c-sections, the patient's bladder and intestines are just moved aside – still within the abdominal cavity – so the surgeon can better see and reach the uterus. In rare cases, the intestines may need to be temporarily lifted out of the patient's body if they were harmed during the surgery and need attention.

The uterus, on the other hand, is commonly brought at least partway outside the body after a c-section. "This allows the surgeon to better see the incision that was made in the uterus and ensure that it's repaired properly," says Catherine Hansen, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston.

The fallopian tubes are attached to the uterus, so if the upper uterus is brought outside the body, they are too." - BabyCenter.com

5. Going to the Bathroom is Tricky, Especially for #2

"It would be best if you still had pads and peri bottles because you cannot, I repeat, cannot bend forward or backward to clean yourself. It's just too painful." -Kayla

"Going number two is painful when you push. Be sure to take stool softener." - Ashley

6. Wear Clothes That Won't Touch the Incision

"Even still, I don't wear certain pants and underwear because I get a weird feeling when the incision gets rubbed too much. It isn't painful now, just uncomfortable" -Deb

These underwear are highly recommneded and nightgowns like these are very comfortable in those first few weeks.

7. You Will Still Bleed

"If you have a vaginal delivery or Cesarean section, you'll have vaginal bleeding and discharge after birth. This is known as lochia. It's how your body gets rid of the extra blood and tissue in your uterus that helped your baby grow." - WebMd.com

To deal with the bleeding, you will need maxi pads and very comfortable high-waisted underwear that will not irritate the incision.

8. C-sections take even more of a mental toll when you have other children

"My second baby was an emergency c-section, and it was so hard for me to 1) Keep up with my very active just turned two year old, and 2) The recovery is longer than you would think. You still have pain, and it's in a spot that it's tough to move or run or get up or twist to turn to see where your toddler is. The worst part is that you can only pick up your tiny baby. So having other littles makes you feel so guilty." -Kayla.

9. Since you are in an OR, the birthing experience may not be what you were expecting

"I couldn't remember her first few hours after she was born. Air gets into the body due to being cut open, and pressure in my upper chest was unbearable." -Christa

"You are in an OR, and you feel it. There are a ton of people working on you. My nurse even made a joke about feeling like you are a NASCAR, and the doctors are the pit crew working on you. When the baby is out, it's not like, 'Here is your baby, bond, it's magical.' It's more like these two surgical patients are on the table, and safety is all anyone is focused on, which is good, but it's not the birthing experience I was hoping for.

When they do get the baby out, you hear them say, 'Baby's out!' and they bring the baby to you for what feels like two seconds. The baby is then taken to the warmer, where they do all the tests and vitals. It seemed like an eternity before I was even able to hold my baby.

In reality, it was probably five to ten minutes, but it felt so long. When I finally held her, I could only do so with her wrapped in a blanket. When I asked to do skin-to-skin, they said I had to wait till I was in the recovery room. After about 20 minutes of holding her, they retook her for another vital check. I understood why; she just had been through extensive surgery and needed to be monitored, but it was still emotional to have to let her go." - Liza

10. The aftermath of surgery can make you very tired and itchy

"In the recovery room, I was shivering and insanely itchy. To help with the itching, I was given Benadryl, which made me feel even more tired, and it felt unsafe to hold my baby. The whole first night, I was extremely itchy from the spinal block wearing off, and I could barely sleep." -Liza

Bonus: Baby's Sleeping Arrangements

I have the Halo Bassinet listed for a co-sleeper because it was HIGHLY recommended by moms who have had a c-section due to the swivel feature. It made it much easier for them to pick up their baby without hurting their incision. But just because this co-sleeper was the most recommended does not mean it is the only option!

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