My first son E, is the first grandchild on both sides of our family. I don’t have older siblings or any close friends that have had babies before me, so I never got all the gruesome details of the birthing process and what to expect. The only things I knew were the things my mom told me (stories from almost 30 years ago), or things I read or heard about on YouTube.
Needless to say, there were a lot of things that shocked me because I had no idea what to expect! Knowledge is power, so if you are pregnant and expecting to have a c-section, this post may be for you!
10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I had a C-Section
(Disclaimer: Everyone’s body and birthing experience is different. And each hospital/birthing center postpartum care is different. I am sharing from my personal experience with an emergency c-section birth at a hospital. Also, there’s some gross TMI stuff I mention, so if you’re not ready for that, please kindly skip this blog post.)
C-Sections are INTENSE
I want to start off by saying: c-sections are no joke. It is an actual surgery, in which you are cut open and the baby is pushed and pulled out of you. And yes, you get stitches/staples, and the recovery process is intense.
I feel like sometimes, it is implied that c-sections are “the easy way out”. Naw-aw! C-section or vaginal birth, girl, you carried for 9 months and gave birth to this baby and you are AMAZING! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Ok, onto the rest of the post.
No privacy, No dignity, No shame
In general, I am a very private person. I need my personal space, I don’t like to cry or change my clothes in front of other people, and physical touch ranks the lowest in my love language. With that as my background, it was a real shocker to experience the postpartum care I received at the hospital.
Side-note: the nurses I had were amazing and extremely professional. I am so thankful for each and every one of them, and gained a world of respect for all the nurses out there.
The first among this list of things I wish I would’ve known before giving birth is that after you give birth, you still have a bunch of gunk stuck in your system called lochia.
In order to help get all that stuff out, the nurses come by every few hours during the first couple days and push on your stomach, and then they look down there to see how much stuff came out, and discard of all the nasty gunk.
I had had a c-section, so I was numb from the waist down, so I couldn’t even really sit up or bend over to see all that they were doing. (Maybe that was a good thing.)
Also, because I was numb from the waist down, I had a urinary catheter. Because I couldn’t control my bladder functions, so the nurses and nursing assistants came in every few hours to dump out my bag of urine, but before doing that, they would have to measure how much there was so that they could check if I was hydrated enough.
I would cringe every time, they had to do that. It made me feel so embarrassed!
No Personal Space
I had trouble getting the hang of breastfeeding, so the nurse on duty helped me get E to latch on. And she just grabbed my boob and stuffed it into E’s mouth. Remember my preferences of physical touch and personal space? Yeah, that went out the window real quick.
No Solid Food Until Gas is Passed
And also since I had a c-section and had a spinal block, I was only given liquids until I had “passed gas”. I had no idea why, but I later found out that if you go through a surgical procedure, the intestines are the last body part that “wakes up”. So, in order to be on the safe side, you need to FART before you can start eating solids again.
Nurses would ask me every few hours, “Have you passed gas yet?” Again, a very personal question, but a question I was so exuberant to answer YES to. Cause after 24 hours post-surgery and sleep deprivation, I was one starving mama.
I felt like during my time at the hospital, all my privacy and dignity were stripped away. But I eventually realized that there’s no shame in that. My body had gone through a traumatic experience, and the nurses were there to take care of me, in a way that might have been slightly uncomfortable for me, but it was what was best in that situation.
I am incredibly thankful for all the nursing staff at our hospital. Mad respect to all of you!
Hormones Are Crazy Powerful
Thanks to the hormonal fluctuations after giving birth to my first son, I was an emotional wreck. I was so happy, and then I was so angry, and then bawling, all within a few minutes. Poor hubs had to deal with the whole thing, but he did with so much grace.
Hot Flashes and Chills
Also because of hormones, I had crazy hot flashes and chills especially when I was sleeping at night. For a few weeks, I would wake up in the middle of the night completely drenched in sweat. And then I would cool down and be shivering because I was so cold.
This started probably 2 days postpartum, and it freaked me out because I thought something was wrong with me, but the nurses assured me that they were just related to my hormones.
Once I returned home, I put a towel on top of my sheets every night so that I wouldn’t soak the bed. Yes, that’s how much I sweat. Gross, right? I blame the hormones.
Breastfeeding is Freaking Hard
I might have to dedicate a whole post on this topic, but just briefly: breastfeeding is NO JOKE. Despite having taken a breastfeeding class, I was definitely not prepared for it. Even having breastfed two babies, it still fills me a sense of fear and failure.
I have a post on the things I did differently to have a more healthy breastfeeding experience with my second baby. Head over here to read more about this!
B.O. When Milk Comes In
One other TMI thing that I didn’t hear many people talk about, even after a lot of research, is that I smelled stinky when my milk started coming in. I normally don’t have much B.O., if I may say so myself.
But during this time, I could smell myself, and not in a good way. I was prepared with lightly scented natural deodorant the second time around.
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People are in and out of your hospital room ALL THE TIME
There are relatives visiting, nurses checking up on you and baby, pediatrician dropping by, people giving hearing and blood tests to baby, people bring you food, people giving info packets, etc. There is a ton of stuff going on during your hospital stay and thereafter.
You will be exhausted for AT LEAST the first 3 months of baby’s life.
Who am I kidding?! It’s more like the first few years after baby is born. Baby constantly needs to be fed and I pumped in between feedings. It was usually when I would start falling asleep that my boys would wake up.
Even though my first son was a “good sleeper”, sleep after becoming a mom is a LOT of work and a huge adjustment.
Moms Are Incredible!
All this to say: Moms, you are incredible. No matter what others might say or not say, there is much value in what you have done and sacrificed. And all that you continue to do for your child(ren). Keep your chin up and keep going! You got this!
If you’re a new mom, make sure to check out my Essentials for the Fourth Trimester.