Going into labour most of us don’t anticipate having a c-section. However, sometimes things go wrong and it becomes necessary (even life-saving) to have one. During my pregnancy with Atlas, I did my best to inform myself on cesarean sections (c-sections), just in case. I never realized though, that it would become my reality. There were so many things I never knew about c-sections.
After 36 hours of labour I was told that I would need an emergency c-section. To briefly explain why, just as my body was getting prepared to push, Atlas decided to turn posterior. Combined with the large size of his head and the fact that I wasn’t even fully dilated, this was a problem. Although I did my research, nothing I came across could fully prepare me for what I was about to face.
In order to better prepare you, here are 10 things I never knew about c-sections before I had my first son that I think would have made it a little easier to deal with.
Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that these are not meant to intimidate you, but to inform you of possibilities that come along with having a cesarean. I am not a medical professional and offer no medical advice.
10 Things I Never Knew About C-Sections Before Having My Sons
You’re Awake The Entire Time
Having had my appendix removed several years before and being put to sleep for that, I honestly thought that I would be put under again. Since c-sections are so invasive, I believed I would be put under and wake up to my beautiful baby in my arms. This was definitely not the case. During c-sections the doctors provide you with anesthetic, usually through a spinal or an epidural if you already have one in you, so that you don’t feel anything in your lower body. Sometimes they apply a local anesthetic if the spinal doesn’t fully numb you. What I didn’t know was that I would be wide awake and fully feel everything inside moving around as they pull the baby out! Yuck! (but kind of cool at the same time, ngl).
The Incision Is Fairly Small
I thought that I would have a huge incision scar, since I was having a huge baby pulled out of me. In reality though, the incision site is pretty small and very easily hidden under your clothes. Most people are even able to wear low rise bikinis again without the scar showing!
It Is Common To Get An Infection After
I never realized this could happen until I had gotten an infection myself. I knew there would be more pain and a longer healing time than a vaginal birth, but I had no clue how easy it was to get an infection. According to Medical News Today, 2-15% of all c-sections end with an infection. Later on, after telling people about my infection, I began hearing a lot more stories. I was totally mind blown that, regardless of how frequently it happened, I had never even considered that it a possibility..
Sometimes They Can Forget To Remove The Entire Placenta
As I was in the hospital to treat my incision infection after Atlas, one of the things that they had to take a look at was whether my placenta was removed fully. This confused me because I thought that it just removed itself from you easily. When going through c-section, your body usually isn’t prepared for pushing the baby out yet so the placenta hasn’t detached itself from your uterus, therefore the doctor has to remove it themselves and often some pieces can remain attached and build up infection.
You Will Have A Catheter Put In You
Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this to but I didn’t mind it in the end. Having an epidural first and then the surgery I was so thankful that I didn’t have to get up every 5 minutes to go to the washroom. Before the catheter was put in, I had my IV and baby monitoring machines hooked up to me so it was a pain to have to remove and replace everything every time.
You May Throw Up During Surgery
There is a reason they tell you to fast before surgeries. And this is it. Not much to say for this other than sorry to my Husband who I threw up on when they handled my stomach!
Sometimes Babies Need Fluid Cleared From Their Airways
Something that is terrifying to me but I realize is very common is that many babies who are born via c-section need fluid suctioned from their airways. During natural labour, the babies lungs are being squeezed and the fluid is removed through your pushing. However, during c-sections, the baby doesn’t have the opportunity to squeeze fluid out of their lungs and it can result in them needing a bit of assistance. I’m not sure if this happened with Atlas but it did happen with Axel.
You Are Encouraged To Walk The Next Day
NO THANKS. This was definitely something I never knew about c-sections. I hated this. As much as I wanted to be able to walk, the pain was unbearable for me! However, I viewed this as necessary for recovery. Walking is what helps you recover faster. It was the only way I would be able to hold my son comfortably. It sucked sitting and not being able to tend to him when he needed me, so I pushed through it.
You Can’t Lift More Than The Weight Of Your Newborn
For the first 6 weeks, until you’re cleared by your doctor, you can only lift the weight of your baby. This was fine for me with my first baby. I felt like such a princess, happy that I only had to hold and care for my newborn. When it comes to subsequent c-sections, the feeling is different. After giving birth to Axel, I was so anxious that Atlas would feel upset and unloved by me. Not being able to lift him up was one of the most difficult things ever. I found ways around it (ie. sitting next to him instead) so it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, but it was still difficult. I’m so grateful for all the help I received in my first couple of weeks.
After 2 Cesareans, Most Doctors Will Not Allow Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
When I got pregnant for a second time, I had a discussion with my OB about whether to try VBAC or to schedule a c-section. One of the things we discussed as I was making my decision is that if I decided to do a repeat section, the rest of my births (should I chose to have any more) would be c-section as well. They said that after two cesarean births there is a much higher risk of the incision rupturing. I know that it is possible to have a VBAC after two, but as I was told, most doctors aren’t comfortable with this because it is risky for yourself and the baby.
Maybe you knew all of this already but there are so many things that I never knew about c-sections that I had to find out through experience.
Did you learn anything new about c-sections today?