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Every mom that’s had a cesarean birth has probably had a slightly different experience. I’ve met moms who loved their c-sections or even preferred them to their natural births. But there are also many moms who struggled with their surgeries.
C-sections can have complications, both during and after, and recovering from major surgery can make caring for a newborn immensely more difficult.
After struggling to recover from my cesarean, I would never actively choose to have another c-section. I pray that someday I can have a successful VBAC.
Once I scheduled my c-section, I began searching the internet for information. I went into my appointment thinking that I was prepared, but I came across a few surprises. Here are some things I wish I’d known about c-sections:
YOU MIGHT SHAKE
I was scared and shaking while trying to hold still as the anesthesiologist injected the epidural needle.
Anxiety has always made me prone to shaking, but the shaking continued throughout the entire surgery, even after the epidural had spread throughout my body. I worried that my shaking would cause problems, and I kept trying to apologize to the anesthesiologist through chattering teeth. They finally explained that it was just a normal reaction from the medicine and my body’s adrenaline.
YOU MIGHT FEEL MORE THAN TUGGING
I’d heard that I could feel some tugging, but I expected to lose most of the feeling in my lower body. Instead, it felt more like my limbs had gone numb. It reminded me of the feeling when you fall asleep weird on your arm and wake up to a tingly, bizarre sensation. I was more aware of my body than I expected to be, and everything felt heavy.
And yes, you’ll feel the doctors tugging at your stomach to make your incision. It’s weird and very uncomfortable, but it doesn’t hurt.
YOU MIGHT THROW UP
I’ve never been one to throw up often, and while I did throw up during my pregnancy, it was sporadic and ended by the third trimester. But I threw up during and after my c-section almost as many times as I did through my entire pregnancy.
The feeling came out of nowhere and completely shocked me. I was laying on the operating table when I suddenly felt violently nauseated, and then turned my head and threw up. Luckily the anesthesiologist was prepared for this (though decided to give me no warning). I vomited continuously over the next 12 hours.
YOU MIGHT HAVE GAS PAIN IN YOUR SHOULDER
I had severe constipation while pregnant, and I was warned that this could continue postpartum. But I wasn’t prepared for the agony of dealing with constipation coupled with the feeling of glass shards ripping apart my insides.
During surgery, air gets trapped in your abdomen, and the pressure can push the pain up to your shoulders.
YOU MIGHT FIND SEX PAINFUL
I assumed sex would be painful following a vaginal birth, but no matter how you give birth, your body has still changed. Tenderness, swelling, nursing, and other factors can play a role in recovery. While many women return to sex within a few weeks, many need months to be ready for intercourse, and you shouldn’t rush the healing process. Be sure to discuss how long you should be abstinent postpartum with your doctor or midwife.
In my internet searches, I had seen many women share that they resumed sex soon after giving birth/having c-sections. This made me feel like a failure and added even more pressure than I was already feeling.
Don’t rush your body.
If you’re about to have a c-section, I hope this post can give you an idea of some of the things you could expect. Do any research you can, talk to your doctor about any concerns, and do as much preparation as possible. You should also check out The Worst Advice for New Moms.
If you’ve had c-sections in the past, what do you wish you had known? Did anything surprise you? Comment below, and be sure to subscribe to our mailing list!