We all end up in C-sections for different reasons and different doctor’s opinions (always looking for the best result). For me it was a transverse baby, a baby with scary low fluid and a third baby who came at 35 weeks. I kinda gave up that I would have a baby the ole fashioned way. But after 2 failed IVF’s + 2 successful IVF’s + surprise #3 – I didn’t get pregnant the ole fashioned way either!
Ok, so C-Sections are scary, but they aren’t bad! For me I was in lala land trying to breastfeed my 1st baby in the recovery room…I couldn’t quite pull it together…I will get to that in a minute. I desperately wanted to fall asleep on the operating table, I was chattering, I was cold. But I felt no pain – just a little tug as that precious baby came out! The pain was covered up by drugs – although the drugs spoke for themselves as I fell asleep mid-sentence constantly.
It’s after the baby is out that the truth needs to be told. Oh the mess! Your body is working it’s way back to normal and it all comes out. You pee a lot – which is great for swelling. You bleed a lot (and I am not talking about the incision, that should not bleed). And that catheter comes out on day 2/3…it is a little painful coming out. Luckily (again) the drugs mask most of that.
After that catheter comes out you will be asked to stand and walk. Say what?!?! You want me to stand?!?! Oh and you want me to walk?!?! It was my first realization that the “no driving for 3 weeks” rule is in place for a reason.
As I leaned on my husband – my goal was simple – I must walk to the restroom. And I will never forget the difficulty. But amazing thing, it got easier every time and by day 5 I was ready to walk right out of the hospital!
While your blood volume and uterus work to get back to their normal selves, you are left with some intense cramps. These cramps can be worse if you are breastfeeding, and tend to be worse with each consecutive pregnancy. Thing is your uterus going from the size of a watermelon to the size of a plum. The body is amazing! And it takes time, at 6 weeks your body is considered “normal” in the fact that all systems are back in place. And you are left with loose skin, extra fat, cellulite and added weight. We can take care of that – read about my post on Postpartum Exercise.
Now let’s talk about the fact that your belly was cut open. Your belly is covered with a sticky film and iodine. During the post-surgery bed bath, the nurses will scrub you and I mean scrub. But the good thing is the drugs (again) mask it. I was alone, my husband went with our newborn, which was ok cause all I wanted to do was sleep. I completely failed at breastfeeding my baby so they took her for her bath, while I laid totally numb. But the clean feeling felt quite good. And finally I was coming to my senses and ready to see my baby again. It really was only about 30 minutes but it felt like forever. With each C-Section I was less sleepy and figured out the breastfeeding thing! So #2 and #3 were different experiences immediately post-birth.
The incision site, it’s a question I am asked quite often being a Pre/Postnatal Exercise Specialist. I talk about the incision site, what it does with each consecutive pregnancy and why we all feel like we have a little “shelf” in that area. You can check that here.
And while this is embarrassing to mention…you must shave before a c-section. Otherwise you are stuck with blood, sticky film and iodine to clean up and pull off. Ouch. It was the first time I was embarrassed in front of my husband☺ Ah well.
So what happens afterwards – when it’s time to get your body back?
C-section and vaginal birth ladies → Our ab muscles are affected the same way – we are all pregnant the same way. The difference is in the recovery. Check out Postpartum Exercise.