There are many myths and misconceptions about giving birth whether you give birth vaginally or by c-section. These are just a few of the things I wish I had known before I stepped through those hospital doors.
1. Your stomach will never quite feel the same
I wasn’t surprised to find my whole stomach area was feeling fairly unusual after my c-section; I had been told to expect some numbness in the area. However, what I didn’t expect was to still feel that numbness two years later. Seriously WTF? So, obviously, I headed over to Dr. Google and discovered this is actually quite normal. Would have been nice to know this in advance.
2. You will have to wear giant pressure stockings for your entire stay in hospital
I did not become aware of the existence of these bad boys until the morning of my section. A nurse appeared and told me I had to take my pyjama pants off and just wear these socks. I was both horrified and stupefied; how do you get these on? It took both myself and my husband ten very long, very sweaty minutes to get them up my thighs. One thing you do find out after wearing these; your marriage is probably rock-soild. If your husband has seen you in these and can still find you attractive he is most definitely a keeper.
3. You will not be allowed to leave hospital until you poop
Why did I not know all this before? You will be grilled about your bowel movements and toilet visits will be spent praying that you manage even a tiny little poop. You will actually feel excited to pass gas as it’s a sign things are beginning to get moving again! I had actually decided I would lie about this if the much-awaited event didn’t occur before my discharge date. Luckily on day four I was blessed with a bowel movement but I was perfectly prepared to brave it out if this didn’t happen.
4. You may not be allowed eat for a looong time after the operation
The one thing that I found really hard after my section was the Nazi-like monitoring of my food and water intake. I was barely allowed a few sips of water and one nurse actually lunged towards me when I attempted more than a tiny taste. This was after not drinking since 8pm the previous night and it was now 5pm the next day. I didn’t have any solid food for about 24 hours by which point the slightly soggy toast may well have been steak and fries. I’ve read around a bit about this and it does seem to vary from case to case. Due to the position of my placenta I had to go under general anaesthetic which is unusual and this will prolong the time you must go without food.
5. It is possible to breast-feed and have skin-to-skin contact
Although ultimately I chose to bottle-feed it is possible to breastfeed after a section and you can also request skin-to-skin with your new baby. Come to the hospital with a strong idea of how you would like things to go and don’t be railroaded into making decisions that you don’t feel are right for you. Although things may not go as planned and you may feel you didn’t get the birth you envisioned the important thing to remember is that you have your baby actually in your arms. Birth is only a very tiny part of the whole mother-child relationships, a momentous occasion but it doesn’t have to define the bond you have with your child.
6. You still leave your dignity at the door
When I was told I would need a section I consoled myself with the idea that at least embarrassment levels would be kept to a minimum. I would keep my dignity intact thank you very much. Uh uh. From pressure stockings (see above) to the insertion (and removal) of the catheter to having my scar checked on countless occasions; having a c-section is no easier for us shy and retiring types than a vaginal birth. Sure you might avoid cursing your lungs out during a contraction but you might curse your lungs out trying to pass gas (see 3 above). Face it ladies after birth, no matter what type of birth, you are pretty much shock free and no longer embarrassed by minor events (I think this is intended to help you during the public humiliation of the toddler years).
7. You have actually given birth
Countless times I have read articles citing the differences between a natural birth and a c-section. The section is referred to as either surgery or an operation but rarely termed a birth. This can make it hard for us section mamas to feel we have actually participated in the birth of our children. I still find it hard to actually say I gave birth; I usually just say I had a section. The stereotype of being too posh to push or worse just plain lazy is still quite a force to be reckoned with in our society. What people don’t take into account when writing articles like ‘How to avoid a c-section’ is that sometimes they are impossible to avoid. In my case I had complete placenta previa. There are many different situations which may result in a section but trust me; you have given birth and will have the scar to prove it.