I had my twins Milo and Violet via cesarean section at 27 weeks pregnant. Read my birth story here. It was an emergency c-section and we were totally unprepared for it to happen that day. I'm usually the type of person to research things like crazy, but I hadn't gotten around to researching c-sections before having my own.
If you prefer to listen to me talk about the things I didn't know about c-sections...
When we found out we were having twins my doctor told us right away that I would most likely need to have a c-section for my delivery. We were also warned about preterm labor, but I never thought about having my twins as early as I did.
I was in for quite the surprise with a lot of things about my c-section. It didn't help that the people I know who have had them didn't warn me about much.
#1 - Spinal block instead of epidural
I have only ever heard of getting an epidural for giving birth, so when the anesthesiologist told me that he was going to give me a spinal block, I didn't know what that was. He very quickly explained it to me and I gave him the okay.
It kicks in very quickly! After I got it, they laid me back on the operating table. A minute later they asked me "can you feel this?" I was super confused and didn't know what they were talking about, till they told me they were pushing on my stomach!
I barely felt the spinal block shots. I did have one side effect from one of the shots, which was that my nose was super itchy. They gave me medication for this that really helped though.
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#2 - Didn't feel any pain during surgery, but felt tugging
Once I was all numbed up for surgery I felt great! My sister-in-law asked me if I was feeling okay and I told her it was the best my body had felt in 6 months! I finally didn't have any back pain, belly pain, or sciatic nerve pain.
The weird thing about it though was that you can still feel some of what they're doing. I felt some tugging and pulling, but that didn't hurt at all.
#3 - Emergency c-sections happen fast
From the time they determined that I needed to give birth till my twins were here was only 30 minutes. They got me prepped right away, took me to the OR, and my twins were born. I was on the operating table for about another 10-15 minutes while they put me back together and cleaned everything up.
#4 - Dissolvable stitches and glue
I was very happy when I was told that I had dissolvable stitches with glue over the stitches rather than having staples. They told me that it would take around 6 weeks for the stitches to dissolve.
#5 - Involuntary Shakes
After my c-section I was super shaky for about 2 hours afterward. My dad said my mom (who had 5 c-sections) was always really shaky afterwards too. There were a couple of times during my pregnancy when I got the shakes during ultrasounds, shots, and non-stress tests, but I didn't know that you can also get them after giving birth.
#6 - Didn't get to see the babies much
I only got to see each of my babies for a minute before they went to another hospital. The NICU in the hospital I gave birth at is only able to take babies at 32 weeks, so that meant that mine had to be transported to another hospital.
I was very happy that they let me see each baby a tiny bit before they got on their helicopters. It would have been heartbreaking to not see them at all since I had to stay at my hospital for 3 nights. Read about what our first 3 weeks in the NICU was like.
#7 - Compression device
After surgery, my husband sat on the side of my bed and put his hand on my calf. He felt something moving and asked if there was something on my legs. I couldn't feel anything from my belly down, so I had no idea what he was talking about.
We looked under my covers and there was a compression device on each leg. It filled up and released every so often to prevent blood clots. I had to wear these for a few nights until I was walking more.
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#8 - Catheter
I was given a catheter after surgery. This was actually really nice! It would have been so hard to get up and go to the bathroom right away, plus I couldn't feel anything. So this was very necessary. I've heard some people say that it hurts when it comes out. I was worried it would, but I actually didn't feel much of anything.
#9 - Bleeding even though it wasn't a vaginal birth
This was something that I had actually never thought of before. I've heard women talk about bleeding after their vaginal births, but I had never heard anyone say the same about a c-section. I'm here to tell you that yes, you do bleed after a c-section. I didn't bleed much, but definitely still bled.
#10 - Limited diet
After a c-section you aren't able to eat much of anything. On the day of I was only allowed to have liquids. I had a lot of water, apple juice, and vegetable broth. Surprisingly, I never felt hungry. For the next 2 days they had me on a diet of no fiber and no fried foods.
This was already limiting, then combined with me being vegan, I didn't have many options. I survived off of cream of wheat, Lays baked chips, saltine crackers, and soy milk.
#11 - Pumped a few hours later
One of the first worries I had after giving birth was that I wouldn't produce breast milk because of how early I went into labor. The hospital put a pump in my room and had me pumping a few hours later though. I was very happy to see my milk coming in!
#12 - Walk that day
I had no clue that you get up and take a few steps just hours after. I've never had a c-section (this was my first pregnancy) and I've never had any other surgeries either. The nurses said that the quicker you get up and walk, the quicker you'll recover and be able to go home.
#13 - No rest in the hospital
I thought I could spend the rest of the day relaxing and sleeping. That was not the case at all. The nurses come in constantly to check your vitals and give you medication. You have to pump.
You have to order all your food, wait a while for it to come, then eat it. You have to walk around. You talk to lactation specialists, doctors, and other specialists too. There's no time to sleep!
#14 - Some things hurt my incision and stomach
Sneezing, coughing, and laughing really hurt my incision and my lower stomach area. Anytime I felt a sneeze coming on I got a little scared! Those things hurt pretty bad for the first week, but have slowly gotten much better.
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#15 - Stool softener
My nurses had me taking a stool softener twice a day because something about the c-section really slows down your digestive tract. I continued taking this at home for a while too.
#16 - Going to the bathroom after is scary
The first time I had to pee was pretty scary. Pushing like that made my incision hurt and worried me that it was going to bust open. Thankfully all went well though!
#17 - Don't face the shower head when showering
Two days after my surgery I was given the okay to take a shower. The big rule they had for me was to not face the shower head. It can put too much pressure on the incision. It's okay to have water run down it, but not hit it.
#18 - Laying on your side feels weird
During pregnancy I got very used to sleeping on my sides. I tried to do this in the hospital and didn't like it at all. When I turned to my side it felt like everything in my belly moved too. I slept on my back for about the first week until this feeling went away.
#19 - Can't lay straight back in bed
The biggest thing I wish someone would have warned me about was how painful it is to go from sitting in bed to laying on your back. The hospital bed has buttons that do this for you, but my bed at home sure doesn't.
My first night home I got in bed and started to lay back. This killed my abs that had just been sliced through! I had to hurry to sitting back up, then figure out another way to lay down. I ended up laying on my side, then turning onto my back.
#20 - High waisted underwear and loose clothing
High waisted underwear is a must-have. You don't want an elastic band or anything tight right on your incision. That does not feel good! Loose pants also won't irritate your incision. The thought of wearing jeans and having that rub on my incision makes me cringe!
#21 - Line between belly button and incision is sore
I noticed about a week after surgery that my incision isn't the part of my body that's the most sore. It's the area between my belly button and incision. The tenderness is in a vertical line. I've heard this is from where they sew your uterus back up, but I'm not sure.
#22 - Hunched over
For about the first week after, I was pretty hunched over when I walked. It really hurt my belly to stand up straight and made it feel like my incision was going to come apart. I found that I was able to walk faster while a little hunched too.
#23 - Linea nigra after birth
About a week after giving birth I started to see a linea nigra appear on my stomach. It's very light brown/tan and goes in a vertical line from my belly button to my incision. I knew that some women get this while pregnant, but I had no idea that you could get it after pregnancy.