C-Section Survival Guide
Like many moms out there, throughout my pregnancy, one of my bigger fears from Day 1 was having my delivery of our baby boy end in a cesarean AKA C-section. I had personally never gone under the knife, and had no intentions of starting with something as natural and beautiful as bringing a child into the world. Right from the start, my amazing OB (shout out to Dr. Peter Khamvongsa of Women's Personal Physicians down here in MIA) let me know that elective C-section was an option, but I just wasn't interested.
Fast forward to 41 weeks, a baby that just didn't want out, and a few hours of Pitocin later, we were still at 0% dilation and Noah was not loving early labor. Hearing his heart rate drop with every contraction and discouraged by the lack of progress overnight into the morning, my husband Julio and I agreed that we just wanted our little guy in the world. We didn't want him enduring any of the further stress that our medical staff assured a vaginal delivery would bring. "Let's just do it."
With my first and only surgery and child delivery under my belt, I thought I'd share some things I wish I had known, as well as a few life saving suggestions.
- Be flexible & trust your doctor (and his practice).
If you don't blindly trust the person guiding you through one of the most important moments in your & your baby's lives, find one you do, like, now. Even if you're pretty far along, especially if you're a first time mom, these are deep waters you'll soon be treading, and you'll need all the support you can get, no matter how your little one is coming into the world. Delivering a baby is fairly predictable, until it's not, and this is when your medical team really matters. If your doctor is in a large practice, ask about meeting as many of the others as you can, should baby come at a time when your OB is not available. This is a time to be picky and informed!
- Ask for baby right away.
If you're having an elective C-section, make sure this is part of your birth plan, especially if you're planning to breastfeed. I was lucky to deliver at a hospital that makes nursing a priority, so Noah was bonding skin-to-skin with me and latching on within the first five minutes of his life, with some help from our awesome labor & delivery nurses. If your C-section isn't planned, make sure you or your husband speak up from the other side of the curtain and ask for baby right away. You've been waiting 10 months for this moment! There's nothing wrong with not wanting to delay it even a minute longer.
- Yes, your baby really did come out of there.
I was impressed by how small my scar turned out to be; shorter than the length of my index finger! My OB joked I'd be ready for a string bikini in a week, but once all the glue had peeled off, (stitches just inside) it wasn't much of a joke! You won't think of it if you end in a last minute C-section like I did, but if yours is elective, ask your doctor about the size and suture of your incision, so you know more as to what you can expect.
- ORs are a little scary, and it's okay to feel that way.
It felt like I was transitioned from the cozy delivery room to the bright and sterile operating room environment in less than a minute. On the ride over, I felt a tiny pang of excitement. I'm a huge Grey's Anatomy fan, after all! But once they actually wheeled me in and everyone was in high-speed-business-as-usual mode around me, I actually started shaking pretty violently. I still don't know if it was out of overwhelming horror, or because it felt like I'd literally come across the first Arctic chill to ever hit Miami. What I do distinctly remember is being wrapped in heavy, heated blankets and instantly feeling relief, as well as my anesthesiologist rubbing my shoulders and reassuring me that it was okay to feel afraid, but to remember that my baby would be with me so soon, and I instantly felt comforted. Allow me to reemphasize my first point.
- Your pee and farts have never been more important.
Someone just poked around your insides to pull a tiny human out of you. While you bask in the glory of that, your nurses are very aware that the doctor you now see as godlike is still in fact human, and to err is human. But the best way to tell your doctor is worthy of adoration? That all your parts are doing what they're supposed to. Like producing urine and passing gas. Yay!
- Peeing feels pretty weird, now that I mention it.
It took a while, but the first time I finally did go, I remember being freaked out by how little control I felt I had over the way it went down. You'd expect it with a vaginal delivery, I'm sure, but when you figure your lady parts have been spared, it kinda surprises you! It might feel like just turning a faucet on and off the first few times... the automatic kind, where you can't control the force of the stream.
- Ask for a girdle.
If you only listen to one piece of advice from this post, it's this one. My faja (Spanish; pronounced FAH-HA) came straight from my OB without asking, and I assumed it was an optional cosmetic thing. When I took my first walk, I didn't wear the girdle and I was DYING. It holds up your midsection, which is so tender after just bringing your little one into the world, and keeps you from pulling on your incision. After that first awful walk, I informed my nurse, who informed me, no, it is not, in fact, to get your hot bod back. Wore it 24/7 pretty much the first month home, even to sleep! It really saved me a lot of extra pain pulling baby in and out of his bassinet during those night feedings! Bottom line: get the faja. If your hospital doesn't provide them, I promise it will be worth your while to invest in one.
- Take all the help.
We were so blessed when we came home. A close friend at church had set up a meal train to feed us through Noah's first month, and my mom who is a total neat freak was over all the time. At first, the visits seemed so overwhelming, but people are so understanding when you have a brand new little one! Those who fed us kept their visits short and sweet, and even though sometimes it felt like my mom lived with us, the house was tidy and she was relishing in getting to spend time with her new grand baby. I was relishing in naps. So yes, take all the help, and take all the naps. And don't be afraid to ask your SO to pitch in. He helped make the baby, so when that third nappy change in the middle of the night feels like it may literally tear you apart inside, wake him up, even if he's working while you stay home. It's good for him and baby to bond in this extra way, too!
Hope any mamas-to-be out there find this helpful. Don't worry, girl, you got this! Any experience moms want to share your birth story? Join the chat in the comments below!