Preparing for a Cesarean- What You REALLY Want To Know
Whether you’ve had a c-section scheduled since you found out you were pregnant, or your health circumstances have changed and your doctor has determined that this is the best course of action for you and your baby, there is a multitude of unknowns that come with having a c-section.
My pregnancy rolled along beautifully (though, it wasn’t easy) until about 36 weeks when I developed high blood pressure. My daughter was breech throughout the duration of my pregnancy, and although I was living a healthy lifestyle, my blood pressure continued to creep up. At 38 weeks, something didn’t feel right. I went in for my 38-week appointment and my doctor told me that my blood pressure was dangerously high. I had developed pre-eclampsia, and especially considering my daughter was turned around, it was time to take her out. At this point, we knew that everything was going to be okay, and I excitedly asked my doctor when we would schedule the surgery. I remember thinking to myself, “maybe another week or so – don’t get too excited!”. My doctor smiled and said, “How about tomorrow morning at 11?”
There are so many different reasons why women choose c-sections or c-sections are chosen for them by their doctors. Whatever your reason is, if you don’t have a lot of time or the mental capacity to wrap your head major surgery, you’re not alone! Here are a few things you can do to help prepare yourself.
- Listen to and follow all instructions and directions given to you by your doctor. If he/she tells you to go on bed rest, get out the remote or your Kindle, and prepare to get cozy. Laundry and meals can wait (or better yet, be arranged by your loving partner in parenting). If your doctor tells you to drink only water and eat no food for the next twelve hours, listen to them. This is for your very best health.
- Do some breathing exercises to calm your heart rate, whether you feel terrified or excited. Your brain is moving at lightning speed and doing some relaxation, easy yoga or breathing exercises can help you calm down and process the mental magnitude of what is about to happen.
- If you have family and friends who want to help, now is the time to enlist them. Pick a “Communications Director” who you can count on to get things done for you and make sure that you aren’t swept into it all. Delegate this person (mom, husband, best friend) to inform everyone else on your A-list that you’re going into major surgery. You don’t need a billion texts or phone calls.
- Enlist someone to make meal arrangements for you for at least two weeks (check out www.takethemameal.com or Meal Train). C-section recovery is extremely difficult. You won’t be driving; you won’t be cooking. Have your Meals Director set up meals for at least 3-4 nights out of the week (allowing for leftovers, privacy for you, and delivery). If you’d like, arrange someone to drop off your favorite meal for the first night you’re home with Baby. Keep in mind, you will likely spend 3 or more nights in the hospital before being discharged from a c-section.
- Did you realize hours before you leave for the hospital that you don’t have a bassinet? You’ll be okay! Don’t panic. Don’t look for problems where they don’t exist. With a few deep breaths and a little perspective, you won’t need to find any external reasons to panic before surgery. Remember, brand new babies only require your love, food, and maybe a shoebox to sleep in safely (just kidding!) in order to be amazing, well-adjusted kids. Anything else is a reason to look back and have a good laugh later.
- What should you pack for your stay? First of all, plan on making yourself comfortable at the hospital. You will be there for a while. Here is a short packing list of things that might make your stay more comfortable:
- Seamless, loose-fitting underwear several sizes larger than what you normally wear (ahem, granny panties). That scar is a wound that will hurt, and if you’re not wearing the hospital-provided mesh undies (which are wonderful!) then you definitely want something loose.
- A comfortable robe. Once surgery is over and you’re out of the paper gown, it’s much easier to wear your favorite bathrobe and nurse from that – it won’t hurt your scar, easy access for feeding, easy access for doctors and nurses, and privacy from any in-laws who you don’t feel comfortable showing off all your parts with.
- A nursing bra or two, if you even get there.
- Phone and charger
- Kindle, iPad, books, whatever your entertainment is
Surprisingly, you won’t need much! You’ll be sleeping a lot. Enjoy the time of rest and crucial recovery before you take baby home. The hospital will provide you with everything else you need: ice packs, mesh undies, baby essentials, water bottle, etc.
*If you take special prescriptions, ask your doctor in advance if you will be able to take them in the hospital. Some drugs might conflict with your surgery and recovery. They might be able to fill other common prescriptions at the hospital pharmacy and schedule those doses in for you so that you don’t have to worry about it.
- Who is at home with you and baby? Is it your husband, or maybe your mom is visiting for a few weeks to help? Be specific – ask this person to handle guests at the door and coordinate meal drop-offs. As kind and generous as folks are, you may need to take a nap or just need some privacy during the only time a friend can bring a meal. Having a team player at home can deflect some of the added chaos of visitors.
- Finally, remember that from the moment you check into the hospital, the nurses and doctors are on your team. Their job is to give you and your baby outstanding medical care. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, to listen, and to rest. A c-section might not have been part of your “birth plan” but your doctors have an excellent care plan. They are experts. Like the Robert Burns poem so aptly implies, the best laid plans often go wrong! That’s okay. Everything is going to be wonderful when you hold that sweet babe for the very first time.