planning for a c-section

How to Prepare for a Caesarean Section (and What to Expect)

This is completely natural since, after all, it is major surgery.  Your doctor should give you plenty of information about what will happen but there are some things they might not mention.  Preparation and knowledge are key so, as someone who has recently had a Caesarean, I’d like to share some tips gained from my own experience which should help make your operation and recovery a little easier.

Before the operation

  • In your hospital bag, pack plenty of cotton “full briefs”, by which I mean knickers that come up to around belly button level.  These are perfect for wearing when your dressing is off as they won’t irritate your scar as it dries out and heals.  You will also need plenty of maternity pads to wear with them.
  • Check with your hospital that they have the facility to play music in the theatre (most do) and if so prepare a CD of your favourite music to play during your operation.  This will help you relax and give you something else to focus on, which can really help if you’re nervous about having the spinal and want to take your mind off what they’re doing.
  • Ask your midwife or doctor whether it’s OK for you to shave or wax your bikini area beforehand.  Most will be fine about it as it saves them a job, and you can take your time over it and do it properly at home.
  • If you’re scared of needles, you need to know that you’ll be getting a cannula (IV needle) put into your hand (it could be another area, but at my hospital they prefer the hand).  You can ask your hospital to give you a numbing cream, called Emla, which they put on around an hour before your operation and this stops you feeling the needle being inserted.  I had it put on both my hands and it totally stopped any feeling when the needle went in.  


After the operation

  • Drink as much water as you can; fluids help get your body working again and staying hydrated can help protect against infections.  Also, when your catheter is removed you’ll have to measure your urine output a couple of times so if you drink plenty it will help with this.
  • Things that will hurt: coughing, sneezing, laughing.  Always keep a pillow by you to hold over your incision when you do any of these things.  If you’re laying down, bunching your knees up as you cough can help mitigate the discomfort.
  • When you have your first shower (usually the next day once your catheter is out) you should be able to take your dressing off.  It’s best to get the dressing off promptly as letting air get to your incision helps it heal and stay dry.  Get it absolutely soaked in the shower and slowly peel the dressing off and it shouldn’t hurt.  To dry it, pat it dry, never rub it.
  • In the hospital, especially at first when your movement is limited, ask for help with breastfeeding (if you plan to breastfeed).  Your hospital may be busy so don’t be afraid to buzz for help getting your baby latched on.  Getting breastfeeding established early is so important so don’t feel guilty about asking for help; that’s what the midwives and nurses are there for!

Remember, the doctors will have done countless Caesarean Sections in the past, so try to relax and trust them, and hopefully your operation will be as positive an experience as mine was!

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