4 realities to face if you’re having a C-section

Citynews reporter Galit Solomon shares what it’s really like having an emergency C-section.

Galit Solomon 6
Photo: iStockphoto

Photo: iStockphoto

Six weeks before my due date I was diagnosed with obstetric cholestasis—a rare condition of the liver that happens during pregnancy, ends at childbirth and causes intense itchiness all over the body. In rare cases, it can lead to stillbirths; so, to ensure a healthy delivery women diagnosed with this condition are often induced. At 38 weeks, we walked into Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and after 27 hours of labour I was wheeled into the OR for an emergency C-section. Here are four lessons I took away from that experience.

Read more: C-section recovery>

1. Badge of honour
Some women get what’s called a “fold” over the site of the incision. After months of expanding, the skin might hang over the incision. In some cases, it disappears over time, but that wasn’t the case for me. At least not yet. I’m hoping to learn to embrace this change in my body. Every time I look at it and it bothers me, I quickly glance at my son. I had an emergency C-Section and that incision was his only chance at survival.

2. Swelly feet
Your feet will swell! They will swell and look like balloons. And, even when you think they can’t get any bigger, they will. The culprit? All the fluid and drugs pumped into your body when you were in labour, or in preparation for your C-section. The first thing I did every morning when I’d wake up was check on my feet. It took fourteen days for the swelling to start to dissipate. My advice: Forget you have feet for a while. Between learning to breastfeed and adjusting to the new joys of motherhood, your feet should really be priority number 30 because they will eventually get back to normal. Looking back… worrying about my feet was a big waste of time.

3. Breastfeeding basics
Get familiar with the football hold if you choose to breastfeed. Nourishing my little one was job No. 1. But, I quickly learned breastfeeding him while he lay across my stomach was uncomfortable and not generally recommended by my lactation consultants. In the first 48 hours my baby lost 10 percent of his body weight—not a good sign, and I felt responsible. In the next 10 days, however, he put that weight back on. The football hold helped me feel more comfortable and confident my baby was getting what he needed.

Read more: Breastfeeding basics: What you need to know>

4. Recovery reality
Recovery will take some time. Doctors tell you it takes about six weeks to recover from a C-section. But it took me about two months to recover from the psychological impact of it (which doctors don’t necessarily warn you about). For me, there was nothing more debilitating than not being able to do things for myself in the weeks following the surgery. Indeed, I felt so helpless, as if I were suffering from postpartum depression. But, with patience and acceptance, I began recognizing myself again. It takes time for the hormones to stabilize and for you to adjust to your new life. So, above all, be gentle with yourself.

6 comments on “4 realities to face if you’re having a C-section

  1. I had 2 c-sections and had none of the experiences you did. Mine were both very positive and I give my doctor a lot of that credit – she is awesome!

  2. I’ve had 2 selective c-sections due to prior surgeries and had none of those experiences, and both done by different doctors. The football hold and v-shaped pillow were a huge help in breast feeding though.

  3. When my dear daughter was born by emergency C-section, she was in NICU for 3 weeks. In that time I was able to recover before she came home so I had no problems. THank goodness, as she was 7 weeks early and had to have lots of care and visits at hospital.

  4. I had the exact same experience with my first c-section. I could not believe the size of my feet after being induced and had to go for emerg c-section and the range of emotions that came with it, guilt for not be able to have a natural birth and not be able to breastfeed properly. I was too hard on myself, but everything went back to normal and my boy was doing great once we got the hang of it. My second c-section was also a week ahead, but the recovery and experience was great, so much easier and happier than the first.

  5. I stupidly clicked onto this article thinking it might have some useful information. Number 4 is particularly annoying – and highlights the importance of separating scheduled cesareans with emergency caesareans. I had two scheduled, first because I had to have the baby and the other option was being induced (no thanks!) and the second because I didn’t want a VBAC. That said, I kind of wanted a caesarean, and therefore my birth experience was mush more likely to be positive because I got what I wanted. If you want a natural labour with no drugs and you ned up with an epidural and a caesarean, then yes, you will probably have more psychological problems. And with regards to recovery, I was jogging 4 weeks after my first, and was 100% recovered 7 weeks after my second. The “not being able to do things for yourself” is actually a blessing, because all you should be doing is resting and breastfeeding. I also disagree with number 2 (all three holds worked for me)

    For anyone wishing there was some practical advice in this article, here’s what I suggest, if you are having or think you may end up having a caesarean: 1- buy really really really low waisted or high waisted underwear so that your incision isn’t irritated. 2- Don’t think you are off the hook form pelvic floor issues, pregnancy causes major strain and kegels and pelvic floor rehabilitation is still necessary. 3- You MUST massage your scar as tissue build up can cause problems (including incontinence) later on.

  6. Pingback: 5 Things: Links We Love « Spruce Grove/Stony Plain Spruce Grove/Stony Plain

Leave a comment