There are so many stories about natural labour, but very few stories about having a c-section. I’ve had two elective c-sections and I would like to share my second c-section experience which was performed in Singapore.
After my first c-section, I really wanted to try a natural delivery. Unfortunately my baby had other ideas and did not want to come out even though I had reached the 41st week of pregnancy. My OB did not want me to go over 41 weeks and if I was induced, there was a small chance that my previous c-section scar would rupture. I was not prepared to take that risk so another c-section was booked.
I was not allowed to eat anything or drink anything (not even water) after midnight the day before the c-section. I was therefore having a big meal around 11pm so that I did not wake up starving! It was a good thing that I ate because I spent the whole night wide awake from excitement and nerves and probably only managed one hour’s sleep.
I had to be at the hospital by 6am and the place was deserted when we arrived. We had to go to reception and fill out a few forms and make payment for the room and procedure. This took about half an hour. We went up to the labour ward afterwards and I changed into a hospital gown. The nurse shaved me ‘down below’. I also had a suppository to help me to empty my bowels. I had to wait over an hour before I was wheeled to theatre. The waiting was probably the hardest part. When they were ready for me, I lay on the bed and was wheeled down into a waiting area near the theatre. I was there for what seemed a very long time (around 20 minutes) while we waited for the OB and anaesthetist. My husband had to stay in the room while I waited.
Eventually I was wheeled into theatre. If you have never been inside a theatre room, you will be surprised at how cold it is inside. I was transferred from the bed to the theatre table. They inserted a drip into my left hand and I found it a bit painful when they put the needle in.
I had to have an epidural which involved lying on my side, while the anaesthetist inserted the needle into the spinal cord. You have to keep really still which was a bit difficult as I was shivering from the cold and from nerves. The anaesthetist wiped some anaesthetic lotion around the base of my spine beforehand so that I did not feel much pain as the needle was inserted.
Once the epidural was administered, I lay back down on the table and started to feel warmth and tingling spreading almost immediately down my legs. Within minutes, there was no sensation and the doctors checked that I did not have any feeling in my lower half (not sure if they put ice or pinch my skin!). A catheter was also inserted and I did not feel this at all.
A sheet was put up just around my waist level so that I could not see what was happening during the procedure. When my OB arrived, my husband was allowed in the theatre totally covered head to toe in white scrubs. He looked so funny as all I could see were his eyes!
During the c-section, I felt a lot of tugging sensations, but no pain. The anaesthetist had to help my OB by pressing hard on the top half of my tummy to help force the baby out. It took about 5 minutes or so for the baby to come out, but seemed much longer!
The OB cut the cord and then presented me my baby (It’s a girl!) and she was then taken off to be cleaned, weighed and checked by a paediatrician. My husband went with our new baby.
In the meantime, the OB cleaned my uterus (removed the placenta) and stitched up the c-section cut. This took about 20 minutes. I was then wheeled into recovery where I rested for an hour. I did not see my baby during this time as she was with my husband and I was getting impatient as all I wanted to do was hold my baby. The nurses checked my blood pressure, temperature and bleeding regularly.
You do bleed a lot for the first couple of days after a c-section. I carried on bleeding up to 6 weeks after, but towards the end it was more like spotting.
I was given some strong pain killers while in hospital. My advice is to take them regularly for at least 5 days. The pain is worse during the first 3 days and coughing, moving, laughing all hurt around the c-section cut. To aid recovery, you are advised to start moving after 24 hours of bed rest. I was up and walking to the bathroom on the 2need day. The nurse helped me to take a shower.
On the 3rd day, I walked to the elevator and went downstairs for a baby care class. The pain is pretty intense in the first 5 days, but after a week, I did not take any more painkillers. The scar was sore for awhile and is still a bit sensitive when pressed now (6 months later) but is not painful.
The catheter was removed after 24 hours. It does not hurt when it is taken out, just a mild stinging sensation. I was not allowed to eat anything solid, the day of the procedure, but I was allowed water and some clear soup. By the next day I was allowed solid food again which was great as I was starving!
I was only in hospital for 3 nights and was allowed to go home on the 4th day. When I left to go home in the car, I brought a pillow with me to hold it against my stomach so that the seat belt would not dig into my scar.
After any abdominal surgery, bowel movements are difficult. I suffered from a lot of gas and constipation. The nurses give you something to help with gas and while in hospital you can have a suppository. My OB prescribed a thick syrup solution to take home which helps soften stools. I also took antibiotics for a week as a precaution against infection.
My advice for anyone having a c-section is to be prepared for a lot of pain in the first couple of days, but take painkillers regularly. Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for at least 6 weeks (if you can). I have a toddler as well and it was impossible not to pick her up when she wanted a cuddle or for me to help her in her cot.
Some doctors also tell you not to go up and down stairs too often or drive a car. With my first c-section, we lived in a house with stairs and I had to use them to go to bed or the bathroom. I was driving after 4 weeks. Do what you feel you can, but try not to exert yourself if possible. I was swimming again after 4 months and back to exercising (gym, tennis, etc) after 6 months.