My C-Section Delivery - Preparation, During & Recovery After A C-Section Delivery.
I have never had a surgeon’s knife on any part of my body before. I never got hurt or so ill to require a surgery nor did I ever get involved in an accident so bad as to require going under the knife. Thankfully. When my Gynaecologist recommended a CS section because of several factors I couldn’t help but descend slightly into a deep pit of trepidation. He stated my age and existing minute fibroids being reasons why I should choose this method of childbirth. I was also a bit disappointed. I really wanted to experience a natural childbirth, to push and scream till the new life popped out of my vagina. I can consider a vaginal birth as well he said but if there were any complications during the delivery, a CS would be conducted. Hmm. So to avoid any unexpected complication I agreed to the surgery. I couldn’t help feeling like I had failed in some strange way.
What exactly does a CS entail? How should I prepare for it? I asked my Gynae loads of questions on what to expect and if he’s lost any patient during a CS Delivery, did a bit of Googling but I couldn’t bring myself to watch actual videos of a birth by CS. I have always been a bit squeamish about blood but surprisingly I can watch a good horror movie and be unperturbed. It was so important for me to learn more about the upcoming surgery which I had to mentally and physically psych myself up for.
Apparently, childbirth by CS is a growing trend with more women having personal rather than medical reasons for choosing this route. I recently read on the Daily Graphic websitethat more mothers are choosing to have a CS delivery to save their genitals ie not to lose the tightness of their vagina in order to keep their men. Other personal reasons are also to avoid the pain of labor. There are also emergency CS surgeries done during complications such as the baby being in breech, prolonged labour, chronic health condition, birth defects, etc.
Whatever your reasons for choosing birth via a CS surgery, you need to know what to expect before, during and after the surgery. No two surgeries give the same experience to a mom-to-be just like how natural childbirth differs from one woman to the other. It really helps to know how to prepare for the surgery beforehand to make it less traumatic and to help speed your recovery.
Before a C-Section Surgery
1. Understand the surgical process – don’t go into the surgery ignorant of what’s going to happen to your body whilst under the influence of anesthesia. Ask the surgeon ( your Gynaecologist most of the time) as many questions as possible. Google can be overwhelming and often times show you some pretty scary results for your online enquiries. I came across some very useful pregnancy & delivery posts on Instagram especially this one on YouTube which summed it up perfectly and ‘bloodlessly’.
2. Eat healthy fats - It takes your body about 6 weeks to recover completely from the surgery. It’s already 7 weeks since the surgery and I don’t feel the tingling sensation around the stitches area which was more obvious a week ago. Before the surgery I read several articles which shared foods to eat to heal faster after a surgery. The list was pretty much what to eat for a healthy lifestyle i.e whole foods, greens and nuts etc. I immediately went double on my healthy fats such as avocado, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts and dark chocolate ( natural cocoa powder from Kingsbite) All these are easily available on the market with the exception of avocado which is almost out of season. You see why we should plant for food in our homes ? Did they help in my recovery process? I strongly believe so. I also believe by eating more healthy fats my body didn’t undergo other negative pregnancy conditions; my glucose level didn’t shoot up, my skin had an unusual glow even after delivery and constipation eased up a bit. Here are some useful tips on how t0 combine these healthy fats into your everyday pregnancy meals:
Make smoothies – combine banana, avocado, probiotic yoghurt and a handful of nuts in a food processor to make a healthy smoothie. It’s better to do this at home instead of relying on restaurant-bought smoothies which are more expensive and can’t guarantee you of natural ingredients. Always stock up on your favourite and in-season fruits and vegetables, yoghurt, peanut butter and all kinds of nuts and seeds.
Toss up a salad – Salads should be your best friend throughout your pregnancy. Totally make it more exciting by fortifying it with fruits, nuts and healthy oils like coconut or olive oil,
3. Prepare financially –
A C-Section surgery isn’t cheap but then again which surgery comes cheap? None. Is your insurance covering your CS surgery? Lucky you. If not then you should start saving up towards the surgery which will cost between GHC 6,000 – GHC 9,000. This cost often includes your 3-4 days hospital stay before being discharged.
4. Prepare your hospital bag
You need to have a hospital bag ready at least a month before you go in for surgery. Even though you aren’t going to be in labour as for a natural childbirth, you should still prepare ahead of time to ensure you have everything you need. You can also buy a ready-to-go hospital bag available at most mothercare and baby shops in the city. I chose to pack my own bag because I wanted to personally select the brands I would be needing for baby and me. Also because there are just way too many fake baby products on the market which end up in some of these bags. A risk I definitely didn’t want to take, nothing worse than a fussy baby developing rashes from fake diapers. In case you are looking for a pre-packed hospital bag, check out Bumps N Us on Instagram. Buy high waisted panties or granny panties as we call them to wear after the surgery. This will cover the incision whilst it heals. You can also opt for high waisted adult disposable panties to wear for at least two weeks before switching to the granny panties. Disposable panties saves you from having to wash your underwear after each bath but it's not the most environmentally friendly option. Include in your bag, sanitary pads to take care of postpartum discharge. Most midwives recommend using Faytex sanitary pads but I wasn't impressed with the pads absorbing abilities. I chose MotherCare maternity towels which was used during the surgery and lasted me another two weeks.
5. Connect With Your Spouse/Partner/Tribe
This is a good time to share your feelings with your spouse about the upcoming surgery. Let him know how you feel and what you need from him. Don’t shut him out. Is your wife going under the knife for a CS? Find out what you can do for her to make the event less stressful. Who’s in your support circle? Give them a call, meet up for coffee and air your feelings out. You will feel better trust me.
6. Prepare spiritually
I spent a lot of time in prayer, mostly at midnight and early dawn committing the surgery and all participating medical persons to God. I strongly believe in the power of prayer and it’s impact in my life. There’s never been a time where I have prayed about an issue and not received an answer from God. I had a tiny prayer book called Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize. The book was less than 50 pages but what an arsenal of prayers it contained! It was only when I shared it on Instagram before I realized just how popular it is amongst many women. Pray as much as you can. It can be a 5 minute prayer, a prayer whispered whilst driving, an hour-long prayer, whatever you do make time and call on the name of Jesus. You will need a lot of strength and grace to make it through the surgery and the recovery process.
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Beautiful reasons to be happy: waakye and a healthy dose of spiritual chow😁. . . Rising up at dawn or staying up till midnight to pray was pretty much my bread and butter. Prayer nourished me in my weak and exhausted moments (3rd trimester), when I was an emotional wreck 😫prayer sustained me. . . For as long as I can remember I have taken every single teeny tiny thing to God. After all we are to pray about everything ( Philipians4:6) 😄 so why should I slack ? 🐒 I even prayed not to have a swollen nose or hyperpigmentation and grace to go through the other symptoms; the heartburns, insomnia, pregnancy amnesia ( forgetfulness), back pains etc. By my 3rd trimester the heartburns were gone and I could eat waakye again!! 💃🏿😄 . . . An unborn child is pretty much God doing His wondrous works in the secret place and whilst in my waiting season I declared words of positivity over her life. I will lay hands on my 🤰🏿 and speak over her..YOU ARE SMART, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE AMAZING, YOU ARE A LIGHT TO THE WORLD!! Sometimes she would move when my words hit her 😃, she felt that ! Do you remember when DJ Khaled shared that video of him speaking positivity over his son? He ain't here to play🤣. Childbirth is a supernatural journey and I made God my stronghold ⛰🏰. I held up the blood of Jesus against pregnancy complications because honestly they are 😨😨 and reading about them gave me anxiety😭! It's not easy😭. Thankful I also found an extra resource in this tiny prayer book by Jackie Mize available at @bumpsandus . It's a tiny book but packing prayer nuclear 💣💥🔥! . . As I have received my gift and blessing so shall you also receive yours. There's nothing impossible for God ( Luke 1:37) 💥PLEASE BELIEVE THAT💥 Let me leave you beautiful ones with this reminder: PRAYER WORKS!!! . . #mybumpiediary #prayer #prayerworks #pregnantlife #pregnant_world #baby #pregnancybooks #pregnancydiary #pregnancylife #babybump #bumpbirthandbeyond #momlife #lifestylebloggerGhana #lifestyleblogger #mommyblogger #braids #boxbraids #waakye #foodieghana #foods #waakyeisbae
7. Get your hair done.
A minor thing which can be easily overlooked but trust me you will be glad you did. Once the baby comes, time will not be on your side and since you will be recovering , you will not have time for your usual beauty routine. I got cornrows a week before the surgery and kept them for a month and half. A protective style which keeps hair away from your face is best.
8. Have a birth plan
What kind of music do you want played during your surgery? Do you want your baby cleaned before she’s brought to you? All this must be in your birth plan. Sadly mine didnt pan out the way I planned it. Nervousness all around.
Most CS surgeries are done two weeks to delivery and by the 38thweek, my bag was ready , my bump looked ready to pop and I was impatient but slightly fearful. Fear trooped into my heart every now and then turning my palms clammy. I got this. Hubby was less worried about the procedure but he was impatient to see his daughter.
The day finally arrived and off we went to Del Hospital. I checked in a day before the surgery for my vitals to be monitored through the night. As I lay on the stiff mattress and the less comfortable pillow I tried to be calm and collected. Was I ready to be a mother? Had I enjoyed my marriage enough as a wife to be a mother? Too late for such thoughts another voice seemed to say from nowhere. Sigh.
During a C-Section surgery
Born day was here at last! My vitals were looking good and stable. . Before the surgery began I was hooked up to several saline IV bags in the general ward. The on-duty anesthesiologist came by to explain how anesthesia would be administered before the surgery began. Soon I was prepped and ready to go into the theater.
The surgery started at 2pm.
Administering Anesthesia – A regional anesthesia ( spinal block) was administered to my lower back. This is done to numb the lower part of your body. That way you stay awake during the surgery to see your newborn. I was made to sit up on the operating table, hunched my back and slumped my head forward with my chin touching my shoulder blades. That’s how anaesthesia is administered before a c-section.. The anesthesiologist was pleased to have easily done this as I had minimal body fat. Once that was done, a catheter was inserted to prevent my bladder from emptying during the surgery. I could feel the numbness in my lower body which I couldn’t see due to a sheet shielding me from the rest of my body.
Hubby was allowed into the theater and he stood at my head calmly talking to me but saying nothing in particular. He later admitted being freaked out seeing all the blood and gore of the operation. You can decide who you want present in the theater, just don’t go in alone especially if it’s your first child. I felt no pain as the surgeon began his work but my body moved slightly as hands rummaged in my insides. I also started shivering from the anaesthesia which apparently is normal but I also know I was nervous AF which slightly increased my heart rate. The beep of the heart monitor was loud and ominous. After five minutes I asked Hubby what was happening, he said the baby was out. How? Before I could ask again than I heard the cry of a baby. “ Wow! That’s a big baby,” said the anesthesiologist. Out of nowhere tears started flowing from my eyes. I was weeping! The wait was finally over, the tiredness, heartburns, achy back, stress, headaches and everything pregnancy was trailing away into the horizon. A nurse came to my side holding up my baby, “ Can you tell me if it’s a boy or girl,” she asked. “ It’s a girl,” I responded with a numby smile. She was all pinky and covered in vernix.
Once the baby was out, it was time to sew me back up. This took about 20 minutes or possibly less. I was wheeled out into the ward to bond with my daughter.
After the C-Section Surgery
Day 0 – After bonding with my daughter, I was given painkillers via an IV and dozed off whilst the anesthesia wore off. As my body became less numb, that’s when the pain hit me front, center and sideways. Despite being on painkillers, you will still experience a gradual gnawing pain in the pelvis region. This pain became excruciatingly worse as the night wore on and oh don’t forget about the catheter earlier inserted. That tiny rubber hose felt like a metal saw grazing the insides of my urethra with every movement I made. I pleaded for more painkillers but apparently it wasn’t time yet for the next dose. I almost cussed at the nurses at such a response. Could they not see my pain? Didn’t they see my desperation? The night wore on slowly in my discomfort and pain.
Excruciating pain isn’t enough to describe how I felt the next day. The midwife on duty asked me to lie on my side after several hours on my back. I tried and almost passed out! WTF?? Waves of pain shimmered in my eyes as I tried to move my body to lie on my side. I failed. I must have tried about 5 times before I could manage a half-lying-down posture. I tried not to cry. I am STRONG! I can do this! Finally after about 45 minutes I gritted my teeth and slid into a chair by the bed. Now I had to walk into the bathroom. Noooooo! 😭 ! I was bathed by the on-duty nurse who I am eternally grateful for her patience and duty of care. We take the little things for granted eh.
A CS birth delivery requires you to be in the hospital for three to four days. Within this period my vitals were closely monitored and given several pain killers one of which I had to insert anally ( Apparently, this method eases pain faster. I never knew that) Boy, I couldn’t wait for this catheter to be taken out. Even that was uncomfortably painful when extracted but a huge relief.
Recovering from a cesarean section takes about 6-7 weeks, 6 weeks tops. Here are sone tips to speed up your recovery from a C-Section.
Within the six weeks, it’s essential to get as much rest as possible for healing to be complete.
Avoid taking on heavy tasks and get help with your household chores. Every laugh, cough or movement will be painful and you don’t need to bring on more pain on yourself. When you have to sneeze or cough, hold your abdomen to protect the incision site. It was difficult trying to breastfeed as I had to hold my baby on my abdomen. A nursing pillow however made this easier for me. You can get one at Bumps N Us maternity shop.
If your bathroom is a shower room, buy a small kitchen stool to use as a step for your legs when showering. It’s almost impossible lifting your legs to scrub them, a stool helps a lot.
Eat good and well. Aside from the fact that you will be breastfeeding and thus need the extra nutrients, your recovery is also reliant on eating extremely healthy foods.
Take your meds. Every last one of them even if you think you are doing ok.
I know you might be eager to lose the post-surgery bump as quickly as possible. Don't be in a hurry to use belly bands as you might easily rip open any of the inner or outer stitches. Speak to your gynaecologist on when to use one if you really want to. But try to be patient and allow nature to do her thing. I used a bandage to tie in the third week but it felt weird after the first and second try. I stopped. I was teased about still looking pregnant after the delivery and often got unsolicited advice to lose the protrusion.
Don't forget to Take care of your emotional health. Having a baby can bring on unexpected emotions which can be mentally draining. Talk to a counselor, your partner or a therapist about your postpartum experience.
What’s this I hear about a C-Section birth not being " real" childbirth? They are so wrong! A natural childbirth isn't easy neither is a cesarean section. A C-Section isn't an easy way out just in case anyone says so. Even American singer and actress Jessica Simpson recently posted on her Instagram on the difficulty of a recovery from a CS.
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Recovering from a C-Section is no joke! I'm feeling thankful for these two older siblings looking over their new baby sister. I think we all get so carried away with the excitement of having a new baby that we forget that we are going in for major surgery. Then on top of that, we get home from the hospital, have to recover from the surgery, balance our new life as a parent to three kids and be a wife. I'm so grateful to the @peanut community for helping me tackle this new life and supporting me as a mother of three! The @peanut app is an amazing support to connect with other moms and get advice. The app introduces you to women in your neighborhood based on the things you have in common. I have been chatting with other moms in my same situation and they have been answering my questions. It is so nice to be able to relate to a community of moms and moms-to-be who are going through the same things as me. Go check it out. #peanutapp
The risks in a CS surgery are more and higher compared to a natural birth. Whatever method a mom-to-be chooses to bring her child into the world, it's her decision. You can't take her experience away from her. We are too quick to judge.
I bear my CS scar proudly even though its barely visible. Will I have another child via C-Section? I wouldn’t want to. I have heard stories of other women having a natural birth after a c-section delivery and they turned out fine.
Did you have a CS delivery as well? What was your experience? Did you face stigmatism for making that decision? Please share in the comments below and let's talk.
Follow my pregnancy journey on Instagram with the hashtag #mybumpiediary.