I had a planned C-section for medical reasons, but there was nothing “planned” about it. I really sweated the spinal, thought I was having a heart attack during the birth, and packed all wrong. Allow me to share some important facts…
I wish someone had shared them with me!
Don’t stress about the spinal
In the operating room, the anesthesiologist will place a sterile plastic shield over your back that has a cutout for the spinal needle. You’ll feel something cool and drippy—this is the antiseptic and it’s used to clean the skin. The anesthesiologist will have you hunch over so your backbone sticks out. You may start to panic anticipating a painful jab. Relax. There’s no pain. Samantha Backer, a labor and delivery nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., says “First, a local anesthetic is given and numbs the area where the spinal needle is administered. No, the local doesn’t hurt. It’s just a quick pinch when the needle hits your skin, and a fast, burning sensation—from the anesthetic—that dissolves in seconds. As for the spinal, you’ll likely feel some pressure, but I promise, nothing more.” She’s right! I actually asked my nurse to tell me when the anesthesiologist was going to “do it already!” She said: “It’s done!”
Intense pressure is normal
During my C-section, I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. This sounds scary, but you’re not suffocating. Backer explains: “Intense pressure is felt at the heart of the C-section when the doctor is disengaging your baby’s head from your pelvis. Because the incision is below the pelvis, the doctor applies pressure to the top of the uterus, which delivers added pressure to the breastbone and chest. However, this is short-lived— within a minute or two your baby will arrive!” Once you hear your baby’s first cry, you won’t give that pressure a second thought.
Pack granny panties (really, you’ll want them!)
What underwear was in my hospital overnight bag? String bikinis. One pair even said “Sexy” on the bum. Well, there’s nothing sexy about a fresh C-section incision. Here’s why, according to Backer: “Textbook C-sections are performed via a low transverse incision, aka ‘bikini-line cut.’ Well, this is exactly where low-cut panties will lie, rubbing against the soon-to-be scar—ouch! High-rise panties won’t irritate the bandaged incision.” If I did it again, I would pack something like Hanes No Ride Up Hi-Cut ($8, hanes.com).
— Christine Coppa