So you have to have (or had to have) a C-Section...me too! It is now believed that more than 30% of women will give birth via C-section regardless of whether it was planned or an emergency. What are some of the reasons one could have a C-section? Glad you asked...some of the reasons are listed below!
Women are having babies at an older age, especially in NYC.
Fetal monitoring suggests that the baby’s heart rate or oxygenation level is compromised during labor.
Multiple gestations are more frequent thanks to IVF and other fertility treatments.
Vaginal breech deliveries are no longer recommended.
There is more concern that use of vacuum and/or forceps delivery can cause harm to the baby and the mother.
Fewer attempts at a VBAC due to concern of rupture of a previous C-Section scar.
An increase in induction of labor due to results of an ultrasound, low amniotic fluid, going past the due date, or just out of convenience.
Women can be heavier nowadays and are more likely to have bigger babies.
Even with all of my education as a pelvic health PT, I feel as though there were some things I was unprepared for during and while recovering from my unexpected and unplanned C-section. So what better way to educate those who may need to have one than to share my own experience!
The surgery itself:
Regardless of how the decision to have a C-Section is made, you may have 2 options:
1. To be put under general anesthesia or
2. To have an epidural/spinal anesthesia.
Sometimes this is a choice, other times it’s not depending on the situation. I chose to have the epidural as I wanted to be awake when she entered this world! The epidural itself was not painful at all but incredibly weird to feel the loss of use of your legs...try not to even think about moving because you can’t! Rest assured, you won’t feel the catheter go in, nor will you feel them perform the surgery or stitch you up. The only thing I felt was a pulling/tugging sensation and then pressure when they pulled her out! The cool thing about it was I got to hear them talk to me (and each other) throughout the whole thing and the cry from my baby girl when she came out was AWESOME and worth everything. The whole thing took maybe an hour and change. My husband swears it was longer.
On to the recovery room…
You still won’t be able to move your legs for another 1-2 hours or so, so don’t freak out trying to. Once it starts to wear off, you’ll be offered ice chips which were SO welcome after not eating or drinking for hours. They may give you some antibiotics and pain meds through IV and once you are stable in recovery they will wheel you in to your postpartum room.
Day 1: The shock and elation that we now had a healthy baby girl was overwhelming! The physical side of things were pretty okay too. Cather was still in, pain meds were still flowing and you will be asked to get up and walk to the bathroom to try to void after they remove the catheter. The euphoric feeling that you just had a baby may lead to a little over-confidence in your ability to move/walk! Log roll to get in and out of bed!
Day 2: The spinal anesthesia completely wears off. Take. Your. Pain. Meds. Regularly! This day was the worst pain-wise which I was told and expected. Try to urinate frequently (every 2-3 hours) as a full bladder will make the pain much worse as it presses on your newly repaired abdomen. This is a good idea for the next few days. Also a good idea to ask for a stool softener (they will give you colace but it may not be enough!). Check with your doctor, but Mirilax, Milk of Magnesia or just plain old prune juice will make it much easier to go when the time comes! The nurses will come in to check bleeding (yes you still bleed vaginally with a C-section) and press on your sore belly to make sure your uterus is contracting and returning to its original size, not pleasant but necessary.
Day 3: Walking will still be really painful. Ask for and wear the abdominal binder they give you in the hospital to give more support with transitions and walking and help you get back to your pre-pregnancy shape. Ask them how to put it on, it sits lower than you would expect. Keep taking your pain meds regularly! Don’t let the nurses get behind! Brace your abdomen with a pillow if you need to cough or sneeze, or laugh :)
Day 4-7: All slightly better as each day passed. Keep wearing the abdominal binder and keep voiding your bladder regularly. Drink a ton of water and eat!!! Your body needs to heal and continue to produce breast milk if that is your plan! For me the turning point was around day 6-7, I still had to be super careful with walking and getting in and out of bed, but the worst of it was over.
Depending on your OB’s technique you may have external stitches or steri-strips covering absorbable internal stitches. Either way there will be some swelling and possibly bruising, all of which should be checked at your 2 week follow-up with your OB. I was not able to isolate/contract my core for a good 2-3 weeks.
What did I do to re-activate my core you ask? Great question :) Read my next blog for a step-by-step guide to re-establishing core strength post C-section! The body is an amazing thing and will heal in due time. I wrote this blog post 12 weeks postpartum and am back up and running (literally and figuratively) after being cleared to do my core exercises and cardio starting 6 weeks post-partum going forward.
If you’d like to make an appointment to be evaluated after C-section, of course only after your OB or midwife has given you the green light, please call 212-353-8693 and we’ll help you perfect your road to recovery and reach all of your post baby body goals!
Also, for all of you moms out there who are weeks, months or years post-partum, check out our MomStrong program at MomStrong