ARE C-SECTIONS PAINFUL? ARE C-SECTIONS SAFE?
Your Top Questions About C-Sections Answered from a Mom Who’s Had Two
“I can’t wait to get cut open while I’m awake!” said no one ever.
I’m one of those people that’s scared of blood and anything to do with the inside of our bodies. I’m not like some people that love to watch their blood get taken or are curious about how our bodies work.
I prefer not to know. Blood and how intricate our bodies are scare the crap out of me, so I’d rather not think about all that.
That’s why most people close to me can’t believe I made it through two pregnancies and births – and not just normal deliveries, two c-sections.
My first baby was breech so we knew we were going to have a c-section early on. She never turned around, so the date was scheduled and that was that.
I didn’t think about it much until the scheduled delivery date got closer and closer. The closer it got, the more questions I had. Are c-sections safe? Are c-sections painful? How long until I can fully walk again?
I was also more and more afraid the closer the day came. The whole procedure sounds intense and overwhelming at first. Everyone’s experience is different so it’s hard to know what to expect.
I talked to three other mom’s that also had c-sections and am combining our advice, experiences and answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about c-sections.
I hope this will help all you mom’s that are expecting a c-section delivery to be a little less nervous and more prepared for what to expect!
1.) Will I feel any pain during the procedure? Are c-sections painful?
During the procedure, we all agreed that we didn’t feel any pain. Now, you do feel something. Lots of people described it as a “pulling” or “tugging” feeling. Those words didn’t do it for me. That’s kind of what it feels like but the hard part to adjust to is that you feel the pulling inside of you. It’s a very hard feeling to describe BUT it is definitely not painful – just weird.
The most painful parts of a c-section are in the preparation stage. Getting an IV put in and the epidural were the most painful parts for me. Most mom’s I talked to had no problem with the IV process. I just seem to have hard veins to find so they always have to poke me over and over and therefore, it becomes pretty painful.
2.) Does the epidural hurt? What does it feel like?
Simple answer – yes, it hurts. However, it doesn’t hurt as bad as you probably imagine. You mostly feel a lot of pressure and it’s not as quick as a basic shot. They take some time back there so that adds to the discomfort. You have to sit there, hunched over as much as possible with a huge belly, while they poke your back.
The good news is that the epidural is probably the most painful part of the whole procedure. Once it kicks in, you won’t feel anything during the surgery.
3.) Are c-sections safe?
In most cases where it’s been a normal pregnancy and the mom is in good health, then c-sections are typically safe. However, there’s a lot of new data being researched in regards to what makes one c-section safer than another. Surprisingly, the hospital you choose plays a big part. (There’s an interesting post from the Association of Health Care Journalists that goes into more detail about this, which is also where I found the information below.)
“According to a recent consensus statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are about four deaths for every 100,000 women after vaginal deliveries and about 13 deaths for every 100,000 women after cesareans. Severe complications like bleeding and infections are also more common – experienced by about 8.6 percent of women after vaginal births and 9.2 percent after C-sections.”
As you can see, the numbers really aren’t that different. Again, in most cases, c-sections are safe. I would just do your research when choosing a doctor and the hospital.
4.) How long do I have to stay in the hospital?
For vaginal deliveries, you typically hear about mothers being able to leave after 1-2 days. The average stay for a mom who’s had a c-section is 3-4 days. This is a good example of where everyone’s experience varies.
For both of my c-section deliveries, I left after two days. Everyone’s advice to me was to stay as long as possible and take advantage of the help from the nurses but I just wanted to get home with my baby (although in hindsight, I wish I would have listened.) 🙂
Not everyone is able to leave that soon though. There’s a lot of things that have to happen before they will discharge you, like being able to go #1 and #2. I know this sounds crazy but your body is healing and has to learn how to use the restroom again. They also want to watch your vitals and make sure you don’t have any signs of complications.
So, most moms stay at least three days on average.
5.) When can I get up and walk?
A lot quicker than you would think! The doctors and nurses are actually going to encourage you to walk typically within twelve hours of delivery. This helps with relieving the pressure from gas as well as getting your blood flowing to avoid clots.
After the second day, you should be able to take a shower. Walking should be getting a tiny bit easier. You will still only be able to walk for short distances and very slowly. You definitely don’t want to overdo it and risk straining your incision.
6.) Will I be able to hold and breastfeed my baby?
Yes and yes! You will absolutely be able to hold your baby and you should be able to breastfeed. This is another one of those gray areas though.
Some moms produce milk immediately and can begin breastfeeding right away. (This is what happened with me and my first daughter. My second daughter I chose to only formula feed.) For some moms though, it can take a few days before the milk comes in but regardless, yes – you can breastfeed immediately after having a c-section.
You do have some things to take into consideration when breastfeeding after a c-section versus breastfeeding after a vaginal delivery. One is the pain medicine. This is something you will want to discuss with your doctor to make sure the medicine they prescribe is safe for your baby since it can pass to them through the milk.
7.) What can I expect after the procedure is over?
- Lots of gas and the gas can be painful at times, but it usually passes quickly.
- Pains that feel like cramps. These were not too intense for me, they just felt like minor period cramps.
- Nurses pushing on your stomach a lot (and it doesn’t feel too good).
- It can take a long time before you are able to pee on your own (as mentioned above).
- Laughing and coughing hurts.
- Lots of vaginal bleeding (yes, even though you had a c-section).
My best advice for going into a c-section – don’t overthink it! It all happens so fast and the next thing you know, your beautiful baby will be in your arms. The procedure is fast and it’s all worth it in the end.
What advice would you have for a mom that’s planning on having a c-section?