7 Surprising Things You Need To Know About Having A C-Section

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Whether a C-section is on your calendar or not, it doesn’t hurt to know what to expect.


Your birth plan may not include having a cesarean, but the risk is always there. Whether a C-section is on your calendar or not, it doesn’t hurt to know what to expect. Here are some helpful facts about having a surgical birth.

You will feel things. “The epidural or spinal will block all pain on the superficial layers of skin,” says Nicole Scott, M.D., gynecologist at Indiana University Health. In other words, it truly won’t hurt when the doctor makes the initial incision. But once he starts moving organs and then delivering your baby, you will experience the strange sensations of tugging and pulling.

You may feel as if you can’t breathe. “This is a typical side effect of the anesthesia during a surgical birth,” assures Dr. Scott. “As long as you can talk, you’re breathing just fine. The anesthesiologist will be keeping a close eye on you too.”

You’ll have the shakes. Uncontrollable shivering may happen—it also happens after vaginal deliveries. It may be unpleasant, but nothing’s wrong. “It’s just the rush of adrenaline that occurs during childbirth,” explains Dr. Scott.

You may have “after pains.” These are contractions that continue after the baby and placenta have been born. “They’re necessary for getting the uterus back down to size,” says Dr. Scott. In other words, there’s no escaping labor pain even if you have a planned C-section. The good news: It will feel more like bad cramps than contractions.

You might become constipated. “After any major abdominal surgery, the bowels slow down,” says Dr. Scott. “And taking narcotics for pain can make constipation worse.” Don’t be surprised if you can’t pass gas for a day or two after your C-section. Your doctor or nurse will recommend safe ways to get things moving again — by increasing the fiber in your diet, for example.

You’ll still bleed. The blood that nourished your baby doesn’t get scooped out during a surgical delivery. No matter how you give birth, vaginal bleeding can last for up to six weeks, so be sure to stock up on sanitary pads.

Your incision area may feel odd. Don’t be alarmed if the area around your scar (just below your bikini line) feels numb or tingles for a while. Dr. Scott says this happens to the majority of women. “It will likely get better in time,” but she says, “some women never get total sensation back.”

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