(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, only a mother sharing her experience. Everyone reacts differently to child birth and a c section so consult with your doctor if you have any questions.)
When I got pregnant the first time over seven years ago I admit that I did not know what I was getting myself into. I was not ready for a child and because of that the medical attention that I received was not the best. My first pregnancy was easy and for that I am very thankful, but god do I wish that I had been smarter about many of my decisions going into things. I did not know what my options were and I did not real research as far as the pregnancy went.
If I had a pregnancy with complications I would have been screwed because I had a terrible doctor (never just go with the first doctor that accepts your health insurance do research first!). I didn’t go to the doctor until the end of my second trimester and I only went to a total of 3 appointments before my scheduled C Section at the hospital. I am writing all of this today because I am now in the middle of my second pregnancy and I am doing everything completely different. I want to share with you what I feel I did wrong the first time around so that maybe I can help prevent someone else from making the same mistakes that I made.
1. Pick the right hospital for you! This might sound silly, but do the research about the facility that you want to have your child at. Check with the hospital and ask for a walk through of the maternity ward. Most hospitals offer this service on certain days and have set times, but it can help you to see where your child will be born. This relieves a lot of worry from your mind because you will know that a good staff will be taking care of you and your family. Also consider if you want to find a facility that has a NICU unit. If you have a high risk pregnancy or fear that you might have a high risk pregnancy you will want to make sure that you have all of your bases covered. I currently have a high risk pregnancy due to underlying conditions and because of that I chose to make sure that I am going to a hospital that has a NICU unit as well as a great staff. The drive is a little farther away (about 30 minutes) versus other facilities here in town and in the next town over, but the one I chose I feel has the best facility for me,
2. Find the best possible doctor for you! Do your research and chose a doctor that delivers at the hospital you already chose to deliver your baby at. You do not need to go with the first doctor that is suggested to you. Everyone needs to find their own doctor; sometimes one doctor is great for you while another is great for someone else you know. This is something that was very important for me the second time around after realizing how terrible my doctor was so many years ago. If you have underlying conditions that may be affected by your pregnancy find a doctor that might specialize in cases like you. Doing this will help put your mind at ease and it will help you to be more confident in your doctor’s abilities.
3. Prep for the surgery. Prepping for the c section is something that might have to be different depending on your circumstances. If you are going in for a planned c section then you will want to have a game plan set in place. I did not have one when I went in for my c section and found myself all alone after surgery. This is not something that you want to happen to you. This time around my man will be in the room with me and both of our parents will be in the waiting area. Our doctors and nurses will know to come get them once we have been moved to the postpartum room. You will also want to discuss your options with your doctor about how the surgery will proceed. My first birth I was put completely under and this time around I plan to be awake. Decide with the help of your doctor which is the best option for you.
4. The actual surgery. Be prepared for anything. If you are going to be put under then know that you won’t feel anything or see anything. This does mean that you will miss hearing your little one’s first cries and you will have to wait even longer to see and hold your baby. If I knew what it was like to be awake I would warn you about that, but I don’t so maybe after I have my little bundle of joy I will be able to tell you what it is like. (I will admit that I have some worries about what it may or may not feel like.)
5. Hospital Recovery. This might seem self explanatory, but it really isn’t. For me it was an easy recovery though I know it isn’t always that way for many people. I was and walking that night though I was sore and had to move slowly. Due to the fact that I cannot swallow pills I cannot tell you exactly what concoction of medications and such was being pumped into me via my IV bag. This time around I do plan on paying a lot more attention to these things as to make sure I know that I am safe and that I am not given anything I shouldn’t be given.
I have also heard that many women and their children are kept in the hospital for 5-7 days after a C Section though this was not the case for me or my little one. We were both released after two full nights in the hospital. To me those two nights felt like they dragged on and on, but I was also in a room alone for most of the time since I was not keeping my child and my then boyfriend had work that he had to go to. One thing I do urge you is to not get off of your IV fluids too soon because they took me off too soon more than once and it was a bear to get a new IV line in me. (They had thought I was hydrated when I really was not.)
6. Coming Home. This is a part I feel very unsure about. My doctor was not that great and she didn’t follow up with me a single time after having my baby and I honestly do not remember anything they told me other than weight restrictions and to stay hydrated. Weight restrictions was not new to me as I cannot lift very much in general so I was not bothered by this, but you might be. Be prepared if you do normally do some “heavy” lifting around the house because you will need someone to be around to help you out. I have also heard from people that you should not be doing stairs after a c section. I admit that I did stairs. I lived up a flight of stairs in an apartment so I really did not have much of a choice though I also did not leave the apartment for a week after coming home.
Where I live now is down a flight of stairs and if changes need to be made for me after the surgery I will make them so that I am on the main floor of the house. I will have a few steps into the home, but those should not be a problem in my eyes. When your doctor tells you to stay hydrated he means it. I made the mistake of not realizing I was not staying hydrated and fainted in the grocery store a mere two weeks after coming home. (I was a bit of an over achiever, but no one also told me not to do it.) Take your time to heal when you get home. Have a support system and take care of your new bundle of joy while others care for the big things like cleaning the home, grocery shopping, and cooking.
7. Wound Care. While I am not a doctor you should always keep it clean. Take showers daily or if you don’t feel up to that at least use a clean wet wash cloth and soap to gently clean the incision. You don’t want it to get an infection. Also always listen to your doctor and follow any of the tips for wound care that they give you. This does mean be gentle to the incision, don’t move to fast or stretch your abdomen too much as you could hurt the incision.
8. Enjoy your baby! This in my book is the most important one. Take the time to enjoy your little one and the time you have at home with your family. You will never get this time again. I tell you this having given up my daughter. I think about all of those firsts that I missed with her and I cannot wait to have them with my little man. Every moment is precious and you will want to treasure them all. You can’t ever get those moments back once they have passed.