Part 3: C-Sections, Birth and Recovery
The follow-up to Parts 1 and 2, Part 3 concludes the compilation of lesser-known facts and tips gathered from a few dozen moms about their labor and delivery, that hopefully will help you feel more prepared for your own birthing experience!
• When Baby seems in distress (via monitored heart rate), or labor is not progressing after a certain amount of time, the possibility of a c-section may be broached. C-section may also be considered if Baby is definitely not fitting through the birth canal, the cord is wrapped and preventing them from descending, or if the mother’s health begins to fail.
• Once a c-section is decided, the process happens extremely quickly. If need be, doctors can have the baby out in minutes.
• Your partner is usually not allowed in the room while they prep you, but you can request your nurse come with you as initial moral support.
• Your arms will likely be strapped down to keep you from moving as they tug the baby out, and a curtain will be put up so you cannot see the process, though sometimes they’ll ask if you want to watch via a mirror or if you want the screen to be lowered right after the baby is born.
• If you have already had an epidural administered, no new needles will need to be inserted. They will simply administer a medicine to fully numb you from the chest down via your epidural catheter.
• Sometimes the medicine can affect your arm movement, or even your speech. It will all eventually wear off, though there are things that can be given afterwards to help speed the process up if your reaction is severe.
• You may not be able to feel yourself breathing due to being numb up to your chest, which can give a sensation of suffocating. Try to hum or talk throughout the procedure to remind yourself that even though you can’t feel yourself breathing – if you’re talking, then you are definitely breathing!
• There will be an entire crew in the c-section room – the main doctor, a team of nurses, and the anesthesiologist at the least. There will also be bright overhead lights, which can be a shock going from your quiet, darkened room with only one or two people to such a busy area. It can seem chaotic and overwhelming to have so many people buzzing around your head, try to focus on your nurse or partner and keep a conversation going, or close your eyes and breath in and out slowly to calm yourself.
• Most doctors will not let you hold the baby immediately after it is delivered, they’ll want to clean it up and wrap it in a blanket first. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask because there are a few doctors who will allow skin-to-skin contact upon delivery, the same you would get if you delivered vaginally.
• The cord will be cut almost immediately, many moms want to wait until the pulsing stops, but for c-sections that is rarely an option.
• Some doctors use sutures to close you up, others prefer staples, some will do either depending on your preference.
• Your OB will probably not be the one to deliver your baby (unless you have a planned C-Section with them). They may stop by once or twice, depending on how long you are in labor, and unless you are close to delivering they will probably leave and a hospital doctor will deliver you.
• Walking-Epidurals do not completely numb contractions – you will still be able to feel them somewhat (though they shouldn’t be unbearable). Pushing through them helps!
• Have your phone or camera ready to go – ask the nurse ahead of time if they will take pictures during the delivery (but be specific as to what photos you want – do you want the actual baby-coming-out? Your reactions during labor? The moments after?). You might also want a picture with your delivery team post-delivery to remember!
• You’re going to poop on the table at some point while you’re pushing. In fact, nurses will usually say that it’s a sign that you’re pushing correctly. Don’t worry, it will be cleaned up before you even realize what happened.
• Research ahead of time whether you want an episiotomy or whether you want to avoid it. Some doctors will routinely administer them, other times it is necessary, but speak up about your preference.
• You may have the option to watch the process via a mirror, or even reach down and help pull/deliver the baby out yourself.
• You’ll be given large mesh underwear to hold the gigantic post-delivery pads. Even if you have a c-section, you will be shocked at how much you still bleed afterwards. Buy some cheap granny panties ahead of time to wear at home with the pads for the first week after!
• Buy some witch hazel pads and place them on top of your panty liners. The cooling effect can help ease swelling from delivery.
• If you’ve had an epidural or c-section, the nurses will need to ensure you can walk on your own before you are allowed to use the bathroom by yourself. You’ll be encouraged to get up and walk as soon as possible.
• For vaginal birth you’ll be given a small squirt bottle to use to clean yourself off every time you use the bathroom, you only need to use it until you’re healed enough to use toilet tissue.
• Ask for food! After hours or even days without solid food, hospital food will taste like a five star restaurant.
• Check with your insurance ahead of time about what is covered post-delivery. That Advil they bring you might cost $150.
• They will have all the baby necessities you need for the first few days – diapers, wipes, blankets, etc. Focus on sleeping, nursing and bonding. Set visiting hours with only your closest friends and family, they’ll understand!
Read Part One: Prepping and Pre-Labor Here
Read Part Two: Labor and Epidurals Here
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