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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The "not so good" parts of a C section

I had my 2nd C section in April and I loved it. You can read my post on why I chose a repeat C section (after my first emergency) and also a post where I proclaim my love for C sections. Childbirth is hard, y'all. Natural, epidural, C section, general surgery... it doesn't come without pain (hence why labor is called LABOR!). I remember hitting my due date with my first baby and realizing, oh my gosh, I am going to have a baby any day and it is going to hurt. Yep. It does. BUT!!!! It is such a different kind of pain. Yes it is incredible physical pain but the emotions tied to childbirth are incredible. The physical pain tapers off and you are left with a cuddly little baby who has you wrapped around their finger from their first breath. No pain, no gain, right? I remember before I had a baby I didn't think much about C sections. Women had them all the time so they must be pretty easy. Whoa baby was I wrong. I think it is easy to forget that a C section is major surgery. Most major surgeries a normal person would take off time from work, sleep all day, and focus on recovery. It is quite the opposite with a C section. Your abdomen is cut open and instead of sleeping the day away, you are up around the clock feeding, changing, burping. Not to mention the pains of breastfeeding. I had no idea how intense C sections were and I instantly had a new respect for C section mamas (vaginal birthing mamas don't worry, I have mad respect for you popping something out of that tiny hole. I can't think about it without getting queasy). Anyway. I don't believe that one form of childbirth is easier than another but I wanted to share with you some of the not so great things about a C section. I remember when they were sewing me up in the OR thinking, "Damn I feel good! I will probably walk right out of this OR on my own two legs". And then when I made it to recovery, everything changed.

Me feeling on top of the world during surgery

Lucy's first latch in recovery... right before I yacked!

Itching - something about coming off of the anesthesia makes you incredibly itchy. I don't know if y'all watch Breaking Bad but I felt like a meth addict scratching away at my face. The nurses warned me it would happen and it felt like I had mosquitoes all over my face. I attempted to use wash cloths on my face so I wouldn't scratch but it was hard not to. Luckily it only lasted an hour or so.

Nausea - along with itching, anesthesia can do a number on your tummy. I was in recovery and they just brought Lucy to me fresh from the nursery and I had her latched on. I could only have one visitor at a time back there and my dad was with me and all of the sudden I told him I was about to be sick. I went from feeling awesome to feeling like I had the worst tummy bug ever. I threw up about 3 times within an hour of my surgery and my tummy calmed shortly after.

Not eating - I was starving once I got setup in my postpartum room and I was excited to check out the hospital menu and order some lunch (I remember how much I loved the chicken tenders and mashed potatoes from my stay for Ford's birth). Well... little did I know I would have to pass gas before I was able to eat solid food and that would take a day and a half. I was stuck eating clear liquids and praying for a toot. I do not do good not eating and my visitors showed up with so many treats, it was rough!

Gas pains - Oh my goodness gas pains. The morning after I had Lucy my back started hurting really bad and I thought maybe I had slept weird. It progressively got worse, up to the point of me crying and begging for relief. Turns out that when you have surgery, air gets trapped inside your body cavity and travels to your upper back as gas. I tried gas tablets and heating pads but nothing really helped. This was one of the most painful parts of my C section with Lucy (I didn't have it with Ford, maybe because I had general surgery?).

You still bleed... a lot - you really don't catch a break on anything when having a C section. You'd think because the doctor has the ability (and they do) "clean you out" during surgery, that you'd bleed less. OH NO. I bled on and off (mostly on) for about 10 weeks with Ford and 8 weeks with Lucy. I'm gonna be real with y'all, it ain't pretty. I would rather have a regular period once a month than the postpartum flood they call lochia.

Tummy pain - I didn't realize how much one uses their abs until I had a C section. Getting out of the bed those first few days in the hospital takes a good 5 minutes because you literally have no ab muscle and have to use your arms. This part sucks. Your stomach will feel like it was stabbed a million times and it is so tender to the touch, I get goosebumps thinking about it now. Walking hurts for a while and you can't lay flat on your back. In the hospital the nurses come and press down on your uterus every 3 hours to help it contract and that is NOT pleasant when you've just had your stomach cut open. Thank God for pain meds. This was the hardest part of Ford's birth for me because I felt like I would never feel better. 2nd time around it was easier because I knew one day I'd feel back to myself. 3 weeks was a big change and then every week after that brings so much healing. I am writing this 9 weeks postpartum and I am working out (with the exception of doing any jumping, fast motions, or ab moves), power walking up hill with a double stroller, and feeling great. By 12 weeks with Ford I was 100% myself, although my abs stayed separated which doesn't just happen to C section moms.

Sex still hurts - Again, we don't get a break having C sections and I was sad when I learned that sex hurt for quite a while postpartum. I guess it has nothing to do with popping a baby out of your vagina but more about the hormones and then breastfeeding (dries you out). It's better the second time around but not completely without pain.

I hope this post doesn't scare you but I am guessing if you are a first time mom to be, you assume you're having a vaginal birth (I sure did) and if you're a second time mom having another C section, this ain't your first rodeo. I can't stress enough how much I loved my C section (the second time around that is) and I plan on electing a C section for future children. I am sure the same can be said for vaginal births, I know I've heard friends go on and on about the woes of that. Like I said, childbirth is hard work and I have mad respect for mamas with all kinds of birth stories!


Sarah said...

yes yes YES. these are all so accurate!!!
not being able to eat was so hard. especially since we (or i wasn't) weren't able to eat starting the night before! i was so hungry before my surgery even began! and those gas pains ARE THE WORST. ouch for real.

Carolyn said...

These are all so true!!! The joys. :)

Unknown said...

YES! All of these things! This brought me back to mine several years ago. Especially the itching and the getting sick! Thanks for writing this!

Brie @ A Slice of Brie said...

Yes to all of this! Ugh, the itching was horrible - mine lasted hours! And I had a really tough time getting my bowels to wake up after my c-section. Took almost 6 days to pass gas and have a bowel movement. They kept me in the hospital that whole time because I was in so much pain and discomfort. It was horrible - it is so terrifying to have to bear down for a bowel movement after you've had a c-section!

Julie | A Hopeful Hood said...

this is so helpful/informational! i'm just at the end of my first trimester, but already thinking about labor (natural? epidural? etc.) so it's good to hear the perspective from someone who rocked 2 c-sections! :)

Megan C said...

I am so glad you posted this, I thought I was the only one who had some of these issues with a c-section. I remember the first three times I breastfed, I threw up. I thought it was just me but I am glad I read this. Its funny, I sometimes still forget that was actual major surgery, the recovery is definitely different than most major surgeries. But it was also so fast, it seems unreal sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Gah, the itching! I've had friends who had c-sections who thought I was crazy for saying the itching was horrible. They had none. I itched for was awful...both times, but worse with Gabe. And the not eating thing is really tough, too. Haha.

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