Five Answers to Your Top C-Section Questions
Hearing a doctor tell you that you’re going to need a c-section can be a frightening experience, especially if you have never had one before. It’s totally normal to freak out over the thought of a c-section, but we’re here to help ease your mind with some of the most common questions women ask.
1. How Do You Prepare for a C-Section?
Having a planned c-section means you will be lucky enough to prep for your hospital stay. Unless your doctor specifies a different time frame, it’s ideal to pack enough clothes for two to three days. Keep in mind that your stay can be longer depending on your circumstances. If you plan to breastfeed, make sure to pack some shirts that are made for nursing to make it easier on yourself. Don’t forget about your toiletries such as toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, shampoo, makeup, brush, lotion, and anything else you need.
For the days leading up to your c-section, it will be the same as if you were going to deliver your baby naturally. Your doctor will likely send you for blood tests to make sure everything checks out fine since a c-section is considered a surgery. Most doctors hand out special soap to wash up with the night before and/or the morning of your c-section. You will be asked to refrain from eating for at least 12 hours prior to surgery.
2. What Happens During the C-Section?
Once you arrive at the hospital, you will be given a physical assessment which includes your medical history. Once you are changed into your gown, you will receive an IV. If you have a birth plan, this would be the time you would go over it with the doctor and/or nurse. You will be asked to sign several consent forms. Once all of that is over, you will be wheeled to a separate room where the c-section will take place. Your partner will be given some scrubs to wear so they can enter the room to be by your side.
Once the anesthetic is administered, the doctors and nurses will help you lie down on the operating table and insert a catheter. Next, the nurse will set up a curtain above your chest so you won’t be able to see anything that is happening. Most people receive local anesthesia, which means you will be awake during the procedure but you won’t feel pain. If you do feel pain, you need to say something because that’s not normal. Don’t worry, though - the surgeon will make sure you’re completely numb prior to beginning the surgery. You will experience pressure such as tugging and pulling sensations, though, which is normal.
3. How Long Does it Take to Recover From a C-Section?
Unless there happen to be complications, your catheter and IV should be removed within 24 hours after delivery. Expect the nurses to try and get you up and moving around, which is important to get your circulation going and to prevent blood clots. You may notice the first time getting up after a c-section is difficult, but it does get easier. Once you are up walking around, you will be able to shower. The total length of recovery is about six weeks. However, most women feel better before then. Even if you feel great, still take the necessary precautions and listen to everything your doctor says such as no lifting anything heavier than your new baby and taking it easy for six weeks.
4. How Do You Deal With Postpartum Swelling?
One of the most common postpartum issues after a c-section is swelling in the legs and feet. Swelling can occur from all the fluids in the IV. Thankfully, there are several tips to find relief so you can be prepared ahead of time.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time, but still make sure to walk around every so often
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Avoid excess sodium
- Drink water to flush your body
- Use cold compresses on swollen areas
- Keep your feet up whenever possible
5. How Long Does it Take for the Uterus to Shrink After C-Section?
For a couple of days after you give birth, you will be able to feel the top of your uterus around your belly button area. Once a week passes, your uterus will weigh around one pound, which is half of what it is around the time of giving birth. Once two weeks pass, it will be down to about 11 ounces and will move to your pelvic area. Four weeks is the average time frame where your uterus should be close to its pre-pregnancy weight - approximately 3.5 ounces or even less.
If you have any other tips on how our mama friends can prepare for a c-section, please add them below! We would love to hear your thoughts.