C-Sections,  Womanhood

C-Section – What to expect, advice & tips (Pt 1/3)

The blog post every pregnant women needs to read (PT 1) 

When I first discovered I was pregnant, I remember thinking what? now?! 

I was so lost on what the next steps were. I heavily relied on the doctors I was visiting. Everything from the information I would need to know to have a healthy pregnancy to my education source on the labouring experience (or at least guide me to the classes).

Now that I’m out of that phase, I have clarity. I see the holes in the system. The societal flaws and educational mishaps and I can’t just sit here silently. Personally, I feel like I missed out on lots of aspects of my first pregnancy. Had I been given the right information, I might have had a different experience.

After having an unplanned c-section, I came to realize just how undereducated parents are regarding the surgery. Especially with how common they have become.

I truly think this post is important for both parents and for all pregnant women. Whether you have had a c-section or not and whether you have a planned vaginal birth or not. It is loaded with information that will help you if something changes. Anything can happen in a split second. 

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The minds behind the post

For this post I reached out to two ‘mom groups’ on Facebook. I asked for mom’s to share their c-section stories, tips and things they wished they were told. The number of women that reached out was absolutely phenomenal! It also proved to me just how important this post was truly going to be. Over 60 women shared bits and parts of their experiences. This helped to create a truly helpful blog post for all future parents to be.

I have compiled the ultimate post on what to expect and how the process goes down. Tips on how to prepare before and recover best afterwards. Questions to ask and so much more. Because there was just so much information to share I decided to break this post into three parts in what I’m calling my c-section series! 

Ps. You can read about my specific birth story here. 

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Why this is important

So lets start from the beginning why don’t we…

There are a ton of different reasons for a women to have a c-section, planned or unplanned. I was told in our labour & delivery class the statistics for women who end up having emergency c-sections in Canada is 30%. That is well over 100,000 babies that are born via caesarean. Although I was told this statistic, I was never educated on what an emergency c-section would entail should I need to have one. 

I know its not exactly the conversation you want to have in the last couple weeks of pregnancy. The thought of an emergency c-section is typically pretty scary. I know how terrified I was when I was told I had to have Huntly via emergency c-section. But trust me, being on the receiving end of that news I really wish that conversation was had with me beforehand. 

I can only give you very basic information as every birth, doctor, hospital and baby require different responses and reactions and have different rules or ways of doing things. 

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A couple notes to start…

I also must add that I am of course not a doctor or work in health care. The stories given by women along with tips are also not from professionals. Always talk to your doctor before trying anything new. Always listen to your doctors advice above the internet. If you feel you are unhappy with your doctor, like they aren’t listening or your not getting the care you feel you need — please reach out to walk-in clinics, go to emergency, find a new family GP. Never give up on yourself when it comes to your health.

To start, if a doctor is telling you the best and safest option to deliver your baby is by c-section; planned or not, please listen to them. They are going to do anything and everything to ensure the safety of yourself and your baby. Although it may go against your plan or be completely unexpected its always worth it for the health and safety of yourself and baby. 

An epidural is typically the drug they give you to numb you from the pain for an emergency c-section. Of course there is always the exception – but you will get given a drug for pain as it’s surgery. If you are scheduled for a c-section then you are sometimes given a choice of the drug you would like (epidural or spinal block). In some cases a mother is given general anesthesia. 

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Right before surgery

You will get an IV and then will get wheeled down to the waiting room of the operating room. 

From there, the nurses and doctors will run you through a few steps before wheeling you into the surgery room. 

Once in the O.R. you will be transferred from your hospital bed to the operating bed then you will receive your epidural. Then you will be asked to lie down with your arms spread out to either side of you and a plastic screen will be hung in front of you so you are unable to see from your chest down. From here your abdomen needs to be sanitized; they use a coloured sanitizer so the doctors and nurses are able to see that everywhere has in fact been sanitized. 

This was the last thing I felt. The rest I was told by either a doctor, nurse or my husband. 

At some point before the incision is made they also place a catheter in you. I was very nervous for them to insert the catheter but I ended up not being able to feel anything and honestly have no idea at what point it was placed. 

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Surgery

Then it was go time! The incision is made right above your pelvic bone. My incision was actually quite a bit larger than I had anticipated. I think we hear too often how small c-section incisions have become and it skewed my perception of how big it would be. 

After they made the incision, they brought my husband into the room where a stool was placed at the top of my head for him. 

From here they begin. Every woman has a different reaction. You can’t feel pain but you can feel them tugging. Its honestly one of the weirdest feelings I have ever felt.

I was surprised to hear the cries of Huntly just minutes after my husband walked into the room. The entire c-section lasts about 40-45 minutes but your baby is out within the first 5-10 minutes of the procedure. 

Once your baby is out of the womb they take them to be weighed and check by the pediatrician. My husband accompanied the pediatrician and nurse and cut the excess umbilical cord. After, he was brought back over with a nurse and our baby so I could meet Huntly. We were lucky enough to have a nurse who was super friendly and took photos of all of us meeting for the first time. 

After a quick few minutes together my husband and our son were whisked out of the O.R. to the surgical recovery room. I was able to join them there once my c-section was complete. 

You are in surgical recovery for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2-3 hours. This is where they ensure that your body is reacting “normal” to the surgery and coming down from the local anesthesia properly. 

From all the stories I’ve read, this process is very different based on the hospital, staff on hand and number of patients in recovery. 

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Tips for Before Surgery

  1. Ask when your husband will be able to join you, from what angle he will be coming in and how far along in the procedure they will be.  
  2. Ask if you will be separated from your baby and husband after your surgery and if so for how long. 
  3. You can ask to do skin to skin with your baby while they are stitching you up — this of course cannot be guaranteed but definitely worth the discussion. 
  4. If you are using midwives, ask them about the care they will give you if you do end up needing an emergency c-section. Mothers mentioned that they felt once they were “passed on” to a doctor for medical attention they were dropped by their midwives feeling lost and abandoned.
  5. It’s common for women to throw up during the surgery. This can be caused by various different things. Your bodies response to the medication, going into shock, or the sensation of them pulling the baby out of you. You can talk to your doctor if you feel this is a possibility. You can ask them how this is handled in the O.R. and what the procedure would be.
  6. Coming to terms with not having a vaginal birth – I think it’s important to understand that you really can’t plan and predict labour. Although c-sections are not the most desired way to have your baby they are the best way for you if suggested. It doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. You didn’t fail your baby or yourself. Your story may be different but its not any less impactful and important. You will still bond with your baby just the same.
  7. Be sure to prepare your husband. Often its assumed mom will be able to help with the first few hours of having a baby. If mom does undergo a c-section she will be bed ridden for the first few hours and sometimes days. Make sure dad is comfortable changing a diaper, dressing babe, holding babe etc.
  8. Be open to the idea of formula. You have no idea if your milk will come in or how your supply will be. This is especially true if you end up having a c-section. But it’s also good to introduce formula for other reasons. For example, when you’re ready to wean your little off breastmilk they will already be familiar with formula.
  9. Photos: If you want photos of the first moments with your little this is something you want to ask before hand.  

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I hope this gave you some clarity on the general practices of an emergency c-section. This post isn’t meant to answer all of your questions. The idea is to give you enough information so you’re able to form questions based on your personal journey. There’s still so much to cover. I mean this is a massive surgery during one of the biggest life events probably to ever happen to you. 

If you’re a c-section mama who has a tip, suggestion or different surgery story. Please share in the comments below!

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Check back or follow me on instagram and facebook to be the first to know when I drop The blog post every pregnant women needs to read (PT 2) — Short term recovery & The blog post every pregnant women needs to read (PT 3) — Long term Recovery 

For more information for women living in British Columbia, Canada — you can checkout this website here.