8 things I didn't know about C-sections until I had one

Take it from me: Even if you're planning a vaginal birth, a C-section is always a possibility. And once I had one, I definitely learned a few things.

Photo: iStockphoto

During my first pregnancy, I had a clear picture in my mind of what labour and delivery would look like. Long story short: It didn’t go that way. It went sideways, starting with an induction and ending with a C-section. I think a lot of women don’t know tons about C-sections unless they’ve had one. I sure didn’t. But I know a lot now!

Here’s what I didn’t know about C-sections that I’ve learned since having two of them.

1. The term “natural” birth is offensive. Same goes for “normal” birth. I hadn’t thought about it much before, but there are all kinds of birth scenarios out there, so who’s to say what’s “natural”? I personally prefer the terms vaginal birth and C-section. They describe the type of birth without diminishing either experience in any way.

2. A C-section isn’t the “worse” way to give birth.  There will be no gold medal for the home-birth mom who laboured for a day without pain medication, just as there will be no award for the woman who laboured for 24 hours and was cut open at the end (that’d be me). No birth method is better or worse than another. So when people talk about their C-section or about their vaginal delivery, it should never be to lessen someone else’s experience. We should all be acknowledged as moms who are tough as hell because we gave birth (in whatever way we gave birth).

woman holding her newborn baby in hospital 13 things you should never say to a mom who had a C-section 3. C-sections are considered major surgery. Imagine having any other major surgery and then being handed a small human to feed, clothe, bathe and comfort. Take it easy on yourself, get lots of help where you can and let your body heal.

4. The first poop will still suck. I’d heard the first bowel movement after having a baby can be difficult, but I thought that applied to women who gave birth vaginally. Nope! The first poop is almost for sure going to hurt like heck, and it might take a few tries, but if you want to get out of the hospital eventually, you have to make it happen. (Related: If they offer you a stool softener, don’t be a hero. Take it.)

5. You can’t lift anything after your C-section. It’s super easy to injure yourself by trying to do too much, too quickly. Let people wait on you! This may be your only opportunity for the next five years to lay in bed eating bonbons and binging Netflix (while snuggling babe, of course). Get your visitors to do your laundry and all of the other heavy lifting. Then, pass that baby over and have a nap.

6. Women aren’t allowed to drive after a C-section. After a vaginal birth, moms can drive themselves home if they want. Not so for C-section moms. Doctors seem to give different waiting periods, but mine said I couldn’t drive for two weeks. Longest two weeks ever! I hadn’t ever heard that rule before.

7. C-section moms still end up peeing when they sneeze or laugh. I’d hoped I might have escaped this, but a weakened pelvic floor can happen to anyone who’s been pregnant, no matter how they gave birth. So peeing our pants is something we all have to look forward to (except if you’re a French woman).

8. You should be happy you’re alive. Some moms are quite disappointed that their baby had to be born by C-section, and I totally get that—been there. But it’s worth noting that if you’d had your baby a century ago, you and your wee one might not have made it through the birth or the days following. C-sections didn’t become common until the 1940s, when advances in antibiotics made them survivable.

Read more:
Watch this baby literally pop out of the womb
This mom pulled her baby out during her C-section—and the photos are extraordinary!

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