My youngest baby turned one a few weeks ago and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon her birth.
For some reason, not very many people share their planned c-section birth stories. There is no drama of the water breaking and the mad rush to the hospital. It is a little surreal to walk into the hospital and check-in for an appointment to have your baby. I have had two planned c-sections, so I consider myself to be a veteran. Today I would like to offer some unsolicited advice for anyone who is preparing for a c-section. Remember, I am not a medical professional and my c-sections were already a few years ago, so talk to your doctor because some of these rules may have already changed or be different at the hospital where you are having your procedure.
In no particular order:
1. Get your hair done and your eyebrows waxed a few days ahead of time if you can. I know it sounds vain, but do this for you. You are going to be puffy and bloated and on drugs and people are going to be telling you how beautiful they think you look and wanting to take lots of pictures. You will probably not be able to shower for a few days. I did blow dry my hair, but I did not do my eyebrows before we went to the hospital and now this picture has been on Facebook for YEARS. Try to concentrate on the gorgeous baby in my arms and not the caterpillars over my eyes. I dare you. 😉
2. You are not allowed to wear make-up, lotion, perfume, or deodorant on the day of your operation. I have no idea why you can’t wear deodorant, but you can’t.
3. This was the best advice I got from my friend Shelley: Go buy 4 or 5 old lady night gowns for your hospital bag. You know your great grandma’s flower printed “house coat?” Go get one. Get the ones with snaps or zippers down the front. They are perfect for breast feeding and you aren’t going to want to wear pants for a while. Even if you aren’t planning to have a c-section, stick some of these in your hospital bag, because you just never know. I found mine at Kohl’s.
4. They are going to give you very strange disposable one-size-fits-all mesh underwear. Take extra. Especially if you have staples. Getting real underwear snagged on your stomach staples is no fun.
5. Speaking of staples, don’t worry at all about having these removed in a few weeks. I was terrified of this because staple removal sounded like something out of a Frankenstein movie, but it doesn’t hurt any worse than plucking your eyebrows. (For more on eyebrows, see #1.) If you get stitches instead of staples you won’t need to worry about this.
6. Think about if you are comfortable with medical students in the room. I did not allow any medical students to observe my first c-section because I didn’t think I wanted any strangers in the room. I was already disappointed that my experience was going to be far from picture perfect. I wanted it to be as close as possible to the way I had always imagined my birth process: just me, my husband, and a doctor and nurse. By the time I was doing it again, I didn’t mind and I allowed medical students in the room. I had a different doctor for my second birth than I did for my first, but I found that when the students were there, the doctor took more time to explain and do things exactly “by the book” because he was being observed. I healed much faster, had much less swelling, and was therefore able to breastfeed, which I had not been able to after my first c-section. Plus, the fact that he was explaining every step of the process (to the students) actually put me at ease as well.
7. Intense shoulder pain can be a sign of gas. Don’t ask me how I know this.
8. Speaking of gas, you can’t eat anything until you pass it. And you will be starving because you can’t eat anything after midnight the day before your procedure either. You might have to go a full day or even two without food. But you might have a morphine drip, so that’s a plus.
9. Be prepared to embrace the maxi-pad. Not only will you be wearing GIGANTIC ones for days, maybe weeks, afterward. Also, you might not be able to handle tampons for a while because they aggravate your scar tissue. Don’t ask me how I know this either.
1o. You may not be able to have photos taken in the delivery room. Hospitals have different policies about this. You will need to ask ahead of time. If you were planning on having a photographer document the birth, you should know up front that in some hospitals, that might not be an option.
11. No matter how scary it seems, just like a vaginal birth, in the end it will be worth it. You will probably even be willing to do it again.
Ok ladies, what did I miss? What other advice do we have for our friends preparing for the big day?