Mums tell: 'What I wish I'd known before my caesarean'

"It was just the most beautiful peaceful moment as my daughter took her first feed after the caesarean" ... EB member ...
"It was just the most beautiful peaceful moment as my daughter took her first feed after the caesarean" ... EB member Beancat. 

Essential Baby forum members who've been there share their advice on having a caesarean, from preparation to aftercare.

Preparation

“Definitely take some food to hospital with you; if you recover quickly you may find yourself starving and it will be exactly the wrong time for the hospital food. I also found it really helpful to tell everyone who touched me going into the operation that I had never been cut open before, so I would appreciate step-by-step explanations of what they were doing. It made me more relaxed.” – Sharlie2878

“I wish I had known that they can make it more touchy-feely, rather than believing it was going to be a very clinical operation. Then I wouldn’t have upset myself so much by freaking out for the 24 hours prior.” – adl

“You can ask for them not to tell you the sex of the baby. We waited for five minutes so my husband got to tell me we had a son.” – Bebe12

“Ask if your OB has a ‘no separation’ policy. This means the baby will stay with you in recovery and you can have skin-to-skin contact once you are all sewn up. It was just the most beautiful peaceful moment as my daughter took her first feed for about 20 minutes.” – Beancat

“Take your camera. The nurses and anaesthetist all took turns snapping away with ours and we have amazing photos of the whole thing. It was great as my husband was really nervous, and it meant he could focus on me.” – Le_auteur 

"Definitely pack some large surgical pads in your hospital bag – surgical pads are cheaper than period pads and they are sterile. Buy them from the chemist." – Stephanu

Pain relief

“A friend of mine advised me to ask for painkillers (during and after the op) that don't make you drowsy/out of it like. It sounds very basic, but it was good advice and I was 100% alert throughout. The whole thing was great really.” – Misslaurel

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“I wish I’d known that because of the spinal/epidural you can violently shake during the procedure, and that morphine can make you crazy itchy.” – Nanns

“They warned me it would happen, but I found that the anaesthetic gave me shivers from cold. There’s not much you can do about it and it eases once the operation is over.” - Tulipa

“I wish I had known that if general makes you ill then a spinal can too. I was under a general when my first son was born, then vomited for six hours after (a normal reaction for me). I got a real shock when the same thing happened with my daughter, and I had a spinal for her.” – EJ75

“When I was laying there all ready to go, I started to feel like I was going to dry retch. I wasn't going to say anything because I’d felt like this my whole pregnancy, but then I remembered reading on EB that it’s better to speak up, so I did. The anaesthetist fixed it straight away by putting something in my drip, and said that’s it’s sometimes caused by a drop in blood pressure. I instantly felt better and was glad I said something.” – Makesmehappy

“I wish I’d known that even though you think you’re hilariously funny on morphine … you are not!” – Jantastic

The experience

“I wish I had known how easy a caesarean could be. I suppose you read the horror stories of ‘how bad’ it can be, but for me it was easy after 12 hrs of labour.” – JRA

“I was surprised by how many people are actually in the room. With my first it was standing room only as it was a prem twin delivery, so there was an OB, anaesthetist, midwife, OB's assistant, NICU teams for both twins, paediatrician and a student midwife. And here’s a tip from my midwife – it pays to get the catheter inserted on the ward if possible, as it is slightly more private (especially when you note how many people would get to witness that, as listed above!).” – Mez70

“It can take a long time to get a breech baby out of the incision, so don't be concerned if you feel like it's taking forever. And doing it so slowly can compress the baby's head and make them a bit sluggish, so don’t worry if they need to rub up the baby and give some oxygen before you get to hold.” – Femboside

“You can still end up with a forceps c-section delivery. My son had terrible forceps marks all over his face and head, as he'd been stuck in my ribs.” – Tibs

Stay positive and try not to dwell on it afterwards. People concern themselves way too much with how they should have done it differently or how horrible it was. Birth can be horrible either way; it can also be blissful either way. At the end of the day you get your baby and it’s worth anything you have to go through. Knowing all this and being positive meant that my second birth was a dream.” – Stephanu

Afterwards

The vast majority of mums agreed on one tip: pack lots of full briefs, ‘cottontail’ style, that will sit higher than the scar (aka ‘granny undies’). Here are the other tips they offered.

“Terry cloth nappies folded into rectangles and placed inside granny undies, across the incision, can be very helpful.” – Fairyflossfart

“Best advice I got was to try and keep on top of the pain: don't try and be a superhero and do without pain medication.” – Lozzylots

“I didn’t realise you bleed as much as after a vaginal birth – I thought they took all of that out when they took the baby out! Not true.” – Beancat

“Post c-section, take anything and everything to get your bowels restarted. I wish I'd been more aggressive.” – Femboside

“If they have you on a pain management schedule, keep to it, even if you are feeling like you don't need it at the time. You would be surprised by how hard it is to catch up if you've fallen behind on the meds.” – JBaby

“Try to get up, showered and moving as soon as you can, so you don't get stiff.” – Mummyinahurry

“I agree with taking lots of granny knickers, keeping on top of pain meds, and drinking lots of prune juice to get things moving, including wind! I also found breastfeeding quite painful after my c-section, and wished I had spoken to more midwives about comfy breastfeeding positions.” – Mummabirdy

“I wish I’d known that although there certainly was some pain involved in recovering from my c-section, I would actually find it less severe than the ‘barbed wire g-string’ sensation I had from stitches after my VB.” – Jellybean_Icecream

“Prepare for the post c/s bowel movement (or lack of!) by getting in lots of fibre in the lead up, and drinking lots of water and peppermint tea after. And take some liquorice with you just in case.” – Le_auteur

“Have someone stand outside or inside the shower with you the first time you shower post-op. I nearly fainted and wished my husband was with me.” – Stephanu

Looking for more information on c-sections? Check out the Essential Baby caesarean forum.