The number of mothers who undergo Cesarean sections is on the rise – accounting for nearly 37 percent of U.S. births in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. While a C-section should never be taken lightly – it is major abdominal surgery after all – there are instances where it’s nothing short of lifesaving for both mom and baby. So, if your physician has recommended that you plan for a C-section, what can you expect?
Alone time: While each hospital’s policies may differ from the next, most will wheel post-op mom to the recovery room while her newborn heads to the nursery for clean-up and an initial exam. You’ll take this time to rest up and dad can usually feel free to accompany your brand new baby. At this time, you’ll be slowly regaining feeling in your legs. They match itch and tingle while they come to.
Tough walking: After surgery – and even up to 3 days after – walking may be an uphill battle. You may find yourself hunched over and shuffling from bed to bathroom. Take it slow and ask for support while you – quite literally – regain your footing.
Some discomfort: Achoo? More like ah-ouch! After a C-section, sneezing and coughing may make you wince with unexpected pain. To ease your discomfort, give your belly some support by placing a palm or pillow lightly against your stomach when you sneeze, cough, or even laugh. If your doctor uses staples to close your incision, you may feel an uncomfortable tugging when stretching, moving from sitting to standing, or sneezing and coughing.
Read more: How to handle that C-section scar
A little freaked: Cleared for a shower? Here’s a tip: Don’t inspect your incision. Your nurses and doctor are keeping a close eye on it while you’re in the hospital, so there’s no need for you to get up close and personal with it yet. If this is your first C-section, that incision can look downright scary at first. Do yourself a favor and look away. Instead, go scoop up your baby and squeeze.
Afraid of the bathroom: Once you have your catheter removed, your nurses will encourage you to hit the bathroom. That first pee after surgery can be intimidating. It may feel like you’ve forgotten how to urinate altogether. Relax, chug some water, and know that it will eventually come.
Extra hospital time: Whether you have a planned, unscheduled, or emergency C-section, you can expect an extended hospital stay after the birth of your baby. Policies vary from hospital to hospital, but 4-5 days is an average you can count on. If you have any complications from birth, you may need a longer stay.
Breastfeeding can get complicated: If you’re planning on breastfeeding, it’s safe to start immediately – even right in the recovery room! However, holding a new baby comfortably to your breast can be a challenge after a C-section, so ask a lactation consultant if you’re having trouble finding a pain-free position.
Staple removal is no big deal: Your health care provider may remove your staples in the hospital – or have you visit the office a few days after your hospital discharge. Whichever your situation, having staples removed is really no big deal. You may feel a very slight tug or nothing at all.
Read more: 3 reasons not to stress about a C-section