What You Should Know Before Your C-section

Ladies who have gone through c-sections share tips and tricks that helped them during their hospital stay and what what they wish they had known. The comments on this one are helpful too!

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.

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 will 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.

10. 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.

I did.


Ok ladies, what did I miss? What other advice do we have for our friends preparing for the big day?




  1. Um.. OMG. For some odd reason, I’ve been secretly hoping for a C-section the past few weeks as my due date approaches because it seemed less scary. But thanks for changing my mind. Or not changing my mind per se but just scaring the shit out of me in general and giving me no hope! Hahaha

    • oh, poor DJ. I know just how you feel. That was my secret hope too. But then I actually had one and all my friends who had vaginal births recovered in like 3 days and 2 months later I still wasn’t able to lift my older kids. The v-way is easier if you can do it, but don’t worry if you can’t. Both ways are totally worth it in the end. Good luck!

  2. Amanda Cover Keatley says:

    I had 2 c-sections also. Both were kinda planned. I took a blanket that I liked to cuddle with the second time. I think it helped me recover in the hospital well because I was comfy.
    tip#1: if you have a planned c-section..shave down there…as well as you can..or some nurse will do it for you.
    tip#2: tell them if you can see what is going on in the light above you.
    tip#3: you will shake during recovery..also at york hospital now they are doing skin to skin in the recovery area. That was so awesome. i forgot that I was shaking from the meds because my baby was there.
    tip#4: Having a baby hurts anyway you do it..but don’t let anyone discount you because you had a c-section. You still gave birth.

    I am going to end up having a 3rd one if we have a 3rd baby. Not looking forward to it..but it is what it is.
    Thank steph!

  3. How about that when you pee, for like the first 3 weeks after your C section, it will feel like a renovation is taking place in your abdomen (ummmm a gut rehab? haha). Organs bumping each other and settling, very weird. And the first poop… you’ll be scared, but much like the C section itself, it will be worth it. Also, this isn’t specific to C sections, but let the nice ladies touch your nipples. When you go home and have no freaking clue how to feed your screaming baby, you’ll be grateful for every second of nipple-tweaking assistance provided by the nurses and lactation consultants who offered to help while you were busy posting pictures of your newborn on facebook.

  4. I know this is an old post but I had to comment on the uterus outside the body thing lol when I had my daughter – planned csection- I was freaking out bc I thought the blow dryer like contraption they had over the top half of me was burning my hair. All I smelt was burning hair…. And then my dr called out from behind the curtain… “No worries,that’s just your flesh. I’m making the incision now.” …… Uhhh? Lol

    Anyway, Going in for my 3rd (2nd planned section) in a few weeks. Considering pulling my hair up in braids so I don’t have to worry ab it but can’t remember the rules on hair pins? Do you?

    • Hi Corine. Thanks for commenting! That burning flesh comment is terrifying. I don’t think anything metal was allowed. I know I got my hair cut and wore it down both times.

  5. Don’t wear tampons for six weeks. Even with a C section. You can get an infection.
    Also, hospital don’t make you wait to eat anymore. If aren’t nauseated you can eat. Not very section gets a morphine drip.
    Every hospital does things a little differently, so I wouldn’t present your experience as the way it will go for everyone.

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