Bright lights, strange-sounding medical machinery, scrubbed and masked doctors, and the fast pace of a sterile operating room tend to make even the calmest parents-to-be a little nervous, which is what happens when you add the phrase "Cesarean section" to the birthing scenario. But C-sections aren't always as scary as they sound, especially if you know what to expect.
Samantha Marris remembers the difference in her personal experiences delivering her two sons, both via Cesarean. "With my first, I underwent an emergency C-section," she recalls. "That was honestly a horrible time, because I didn't know what was going on." But with Marris' second son, "Things went great! I had the ability to plan my delivery date, which was exciting. And armed with a schedule, I felt really calm and ready for the birth."
Gaining a basic understanding of the procedures that will occur before, during, and after surgery can help you alleviate any undue stress surrounding your baby's birth. Here is a step-by-step outline of what to expect from and how to prepare for your own Cesarean birth experience.
Packing for Your Hospital Stay
While most women stay in the hospital for one to two days after a vaginal delivery, those who deliver by C-section usually stay for three to five days, and occasionally longer. Be sure to pack a bag with enough comfortable clothes for your hospital stay (pack shirts and tops that have zip or buttoned fronts if you plan to try breastfeeding). Look for soft clothes with loose elastic or adjustable waistbands, warm socks, and even a couple of zippered sweatshirts or cardigan sweaters for those cool hospital rooms. Also include toiletries such as toothpaste and toothbrush, lotion, brush, makeup, and soap.
After a C-section, chances are you'll feel exhausted, sore, and emotional. A nice-smelling bath soap, your favorite lip gloss, brand new slippers, or extra special hand cream can provide just the pick-me-up you may need while recovering from your surgery.
Preparing for Surgery
Though hospital procedures may vary, there are general steps that most will follow when it comes to preoperative procedures. Before your operation day, you'll probably have lab work, including blood and urine tests, to check for diabetes and other medical issues. You'll meet with an anesthetist to discuss your options for anesthesia. You'll also be reminded to refrain from eating or drinking for eight to 12 hours before your surgery.