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C-Section Frequently Asked Questions
These are the C-Section frequently asked questions that I’ve received from blog viewers as well as common questions new moms have when it comes to having a C-Section birth and recovering well.
Please note that I am NOT a doctor. These answers should not replace your doctor’s orders or advice.
16. What is a VBAC?
A C-Section birth is a surgical procedure whereby a doctor removes a baby from the womb through a surgical incision in the woman’s abdomen. The doctor then manually pulls the baby out through the incision.
Before the C-Section Procedure even starts, you will be taken to the hospital preparation room where you will prepped for your surgery. Once prepped you will be wheeled to the operating room where a drape will be placed in front of you.
Next to you will be your anesthesiologist who will monitor your anesthesia and will ensure your comfort. Your anesthesiologist will also keep you clued in as to what is going on at each stage of the surgery.
Once the doctor is sure you are completely numb, s(he) will make a small incision just above your public hair line. Next the doctor will lift the baby’s head and suction the amniotic fluid from her mouth, then he will lift the rest of your baby out.
Once the baby is out, the umbilical cord is cut and the baby is handed to the nurse to be cleaned up. At that time the doctor will stitch up your incision and you will be wheeled to the recovery room. Here’s a more lengthy description of what happen during the c-section procedure.
Your c-section recovery takes about 4-8 weeks and the c-section recovery timeline varies for each woman, but here’s a rough breakdown.
Typically you are out of be walking in about 12 hours, but still very sore. Within about a week you should be walking around pretty good but still feeling a little sore around your incision. At about 2-4 weeks your incision should be healing well and at about 4-6 weeks you could be back to your usual routine. Provided that your recovery goes well, most women can go back to work at about 8 weeks after delivering.
An abdominal binder works to limit pulling and any movement sensation around your incision. If you can keep the area free from pain you can move easier and feel better.
For example, when you laugh or move abruptly it hurts, but if you can hold a pillow or something firm over the area it hurts less when you do those things. An abdominal binder works like the pillow.
However most commercial abdominal binders you get from the hospital and retail stores are made of very stiff , even plastic materials that aren’t very comfortable. A C-section mom needs firm support but she also needs comfort as well.
Look for C-Section abdominal binders that deliver firm but comforting support.
Driving after a c-section can be painful because you’re moving your legs up and down and that can pull on your incision causing pain.
Most doctors will recommend not driving for 3-6 weeks. I actually began driving at about 2.5 weeks, however that doesn’t mean you should. Always follow your doctors orders. Driving is going to be one of those individual things and your doctor is going to have your medical condition in mind when he tells you how long you must wait.
Never drive while taking pain medication or narcotics and once you do begin driving, make sure you can easily move your leg and foot from pedal to pedal without hesitation.
Typically it’s safe at 6-8 weeks after your surgery. Your doctor is the best person to ask about when it’s safe for you. Infection and postpartum hemorrhage are the biggest concern. So if the moment arises and you’re not sure if it’s a good time, either physically or emotionally, here are a few suggestions on sex after a C-Section and when it’s safe.
A Doula is a trained woman who provides non-medical and non-midwifery support during the childbirth process of labor, delivery and the postpartum period.
A Doula can also perform things like postpartum home care, relay special requests you may have to your doctor and the hospital, answer your questions you may have, explain things you’re not sure about, perform massage, take photos and give emotional support.
A Doula does not deliver the baby or have a clinical role at the birth, however a midwife can perform those functions. Click here for the difference between a Doula and a Midwife.
Using a Doula is a personal preference. She can be like your own personal assistant. A Doula can cost anywhere from $200-$800, depending on the Doula’s training and experience.
Postpartum bleeding after a c-section is normal even for a c-section mom. Bleeding can be bright red for about 4-7 days. This is called Lochia bleeding which is the normal cleansing of the uterus.
However at about 10 days up until about 6 weeks the bleeding should begin to taper off going from red to pink to a brownish and then stopping altogether.
If your bleeding tapers off to a pink or brownish but starts up bright red again this often means that you are doing too much physically and should slow down your activity.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
– Bleeding is bright red and steady for longer than a week
– You smell a foul odor
– Your bleeding soaks several sanitary pads within a few hours
– Experience clots that are the size of a golf ball
– Have a steady flow of bleeding for longer than two weeks
It’s normal to feel numb around the area of your incision. The incision cuts surrounding nerves in the skin which can take several months, even a year or more to heal.
These cut nerve endings can leave several inches around the incision feeling numb. Even though the numb sensation feels weird, feeling should gradually come back over time, but it could take a long time. I have complete feeling back but for me it did take several years.
Complications can occur but are generally rare. These are the most common c-section complications or risks that can occur:
- Bleeding after C-section
- Adhesions and Scar Tissue
- Bladder, Bowel or Organ Injury
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Injury to the baby
Complications from having a c-section are discussed more in detail in the Worry Free C-Section.
Having a c-section won’t prohibit you from breastfeeding, in fact most women can breastfeed after a c-section just fine, but due to the discomfort of recovering from surgery, some women find it difficult.
The key to successful breastfeeding is to find a comfortable position and to relax.
You can exercise after a c-section when your doctor tells you it’s OK which is generally at about 6-8 weeks after your C-Section. Exercise is not recommended sooner that this due to injury to your internal incision and your abdominal muscles.
Many women have gone on to have multiple C-Sections, in fact there are women who have had as many as 6 or more. Does that mean you should have that many C-Sections? No.
Having a C-section is full abdominal surgery. Every surgery comes with risk and the risks are compounded the more surgeries you have. The most significant concern is the risk of adhesions which is the scar tissue that develops in your abdomen.
Most doctors and medical professionals will say the fewer the C-Sections the better.
Most c-sections are performed with a low transverse or bikini cut just above the pubic line. The cut is about 4-6 inches long.
In an emergency where the baby needs to be delivered immediately a larger vertical incision may need to be made.
Most maternity leave for a vaginal birth is about 6 weeks. For a C-section delivery maternity leave is generally about 8 weeks. However this time can vary from company to company so check with your HR department.
A VBAC or Vaginal Birth after C-Section is just what the name implies. It’s where a mother has a vaginal birth when her previous birth was a C-Section.
Having a VBAC is not preferred by most doctors because of the risk of uterine rupture and infection. however uterine rupture carries only about a 1% risk. If you wish to have a VBAC you should discuss the possibility as well as the risks with your doctor. The good news is that about 75% of women have a successful safe VBAC.
Yes. However having a VBAC after multiple C-Sections, also known as a VBAMC, is riskier the more C-Sections you’ve had. If you are looking into having a VBAMC, carefully consider delivering within a hospital or medical facility. This is for safety reasons in case an emergency C-Section may be needed.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to choosing to have a Cesarean. Having a C-Section out of convenience or to fit a time schedule is not wise. C-sections are major abdominal surgery and there are significant risks to having C-Section surgery, both to mom and baby.
However there women who have psychological fears about giving birth. It’s called Tokophobia, which is a real fear for some women. Having a c-section may help them through the process.
It’s normal for some women to feel cheated after having a c-section, especially your C-Section was unexpected.
We’re often told that we should feel grateful that our babies are healthy and that we’re OK, but that’s not always enough to console a mom that wanted to experience a natural birth or feels that she is a failure.
No matter how disappointing it may feel to have had a C-Section, the sacrifice you made for your child comes out of a mother’s love, and that is heroic to me. I think your child will realize that they get older.
I always encourage moms to move ahead and enjoy the moments that simply having a child can braing. Never dwell on what you don’t have, look at what you do have and embrace it, revere it and by all means live each day with your child to its fullest, these days will be gone all too fast 🙂
Sometimes doctors don’t perform C-Sections completely out of a medical need. They sometimes suggest a mother have a C-Section if labor is progressing too slowly or because perhaps your doctor thinks the baby is too big. When doctors schedule a C-Section because they have a “hunch” about a potential problem the outcome can often be a C-Section.
Also doctors don’t generally explain to women the possible risks and complications of having a C-Section. Things like greater risk for infection, abdominal adhesions, hemorrhage, future placental issues, breastfeeding challenges, possible respiratory distress syndrome for baby, and future infertility just to name a few.
One popular suggestion is to wear men’s briefs or granny panties.
I have to say both will provide comfort, but for most women they’re not too appealing. In the very beginning when you first get home granny panties or men’s underwear will probably work just fine, but within a few days you might want to begin wearing something that still offers comfort and scar protection bit give you a bit more dignity. Cpanty is a great product for support, protection and they aren’t embarrassing to wear. 🙂
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P.S. Check our C-Section Birth and Recovery page for more information on C-Sections, their risks, complications and further help with C-Section Recovery.
Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net