My C-section was not planned. In fact, it was an emergency C-section. It was traumatic and, to be honest, probably more so because I wasn’t prepared. I never thought this would be something I would have to go through, but I did. After undergoing that surgery, I am, of course, so thankful and proud of my body. However, there are so many things I would have loved to know before undergoing this procedure. Here are the questions I would have asked had I been planning a C-section.
Questions to Ask Before Planning a C-Section
Who will be in the room with me?
Because of COVID, different states and hospitals have different restrictions. Thankfully, my husband Nick was able to be in the room with me. But I do know that other hospitals have not allowed that. And in previous years, people have also been able to bring a birth photographer if that was important to them.
How does the anesthesia work?
I had an epidural because the plan was to have my daughter vaginally. So they increased the medication through that, leaving me numb and ready for surgery in a matter of minutes. This was scary because I still felt all the tugs and pulls. But knowing I would be feeling this sensation would have been nice to know ahead of time.
What am I allowed to wear?
I was told to take off all my jewelry. I had to do it rather quickly. It was hard for me to move my fingers because I was so scared. But I would have loved to know that jewelry was not allowed so that I could have avoided that as well.
Can I wear contacts?
This is something that people don’t think of, but some hospitals require that you remove your contacts and wear eyeglasses during surgery. However, some hospitals are okay with it, especially in an emergency situation. It’s a good question to ask when planning a C-section so that you’re prepared.
What happens during a C-section?
I know that some people have absolutely no desire to know all the details, but understanding what happens during the procedure and how long it takes can be really helpful. It can also help you appreciate even more what your amazing body can do. You can ask your doctor in advance what happens during the surgery and have them tell you what they are doing while they are doing it, so you know when to expect your baby to be born.
Will I see what’s happening?
One huge thing I didn’t know to ask was about the blue sheet. A lot of hospitals and doctors allow you to see what is going on. I didn’t know to ask and therefore had the blue sheet in front of my face. I felt very claustrophobic and detached from the experience. I’m not sure if I would have opted to see everything, but it would have been nice to have the option.
What happens after the baby arrives?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Would she get to lay on my chest? Would I get to hold her? And would my partner get to hold her, cut her umbilical cord, and be with her while they sewed me back up? All of these were questions I didn’t know the answers to. Because my C-section was an emergency, I didn’t have time to ask.
How will the anesthesia affect me?
I was very shaken up, literally. My body was shaking uncontrollably for hours which made it difficult to hold my baby. I was also exhausted because I had been in labor for 15 hours. Knowing that all of this was a possibility would have made it less traumatic and scary when it happened.
What will recovery look like?
On that note, C-section recovery was very different than my vaginal birth. For starters, I couldn’t get out of bed for 24 hours. Of course, everyone is different, but I had a catheter put in and was bedridden until I was allowed to get up. I would have asked what the recovery looked like, who would be caring for me, what medications and antibiotics I would be on, and pain killers as well.
Once I was able to walk around (by walking around, I mean going to the bathroom and back), I slowly added more steps. Walking and moving really helped my recovery. This is something I would have liked to know ahead of time, too, so that I wouldn’t have been as scared to do so.
What about the scar?
What I didn’t know was that I should have been caring for my scar. I didn’t know that I could have been massaging it and putting some vitamin E oil on it to help with scar tissue build-up. I didn’t know to wear a compression garment or belly band. So for the first two weeks, I did none of this. When planning a C-section, get a better understanding and ask how to care for your scar. This is something I highly recommend.
With that said, here are a few other questions I would ask in terms of recovery:
- How long will I be at the hospital?
- When can I move around?
- How long can I go on walks?
- What will I be able to eat after surgery and the days following?
- What is the most weight I can lift?
- How long will it take for the scar to heal?
- How long will my “shelf” take to go down?
- Will I have to have another C-section if I have another baby?
- How long do I need to wait until I can have sex again?
- How long do I need to wait until I can work out?
- Will this affect the number of children that I can have?
- How long should I wait if we want to get pregnant again?
While my C-section was unplanned and very rushed, I am so thankful they exist. So thankful that my body was strong enough and very proud of my skin. However, being informed and educated on this procedure would have allowed me to feel calmer and more confident going through it. If you are planning a C-section, I encourage you to ask all the questions because this is your journey, your story, and you deserve to feel comfortable and confident in your birth process.