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C section - what happens and practical tips for recovery

(42 Posts)
suntodayplease Fri 27-Sep-13 07:27:21

So I've seen plenty of c sections on OBEM and midwives but they only show the bit when they cut and take baby out. What happens before and after? Does the baby stay with you in theatre? Where does the baby go when you're in recovery?

Also can anyone share some practical tips on what to pack in your hospital bag and useful things to think about during the early days after to aid recovery.

I'm likely to have a section soon which I'm fine about but I have only recently found out and know very little about what it involves!
Thanks very much

EllaMenOhPea Fri 27-Sep-13 07:38:32

I had an emergency c-section.Baby was fine so he stayed with me while I was being stitched up, I got a little cuddle, then DH held him next to me for the whole time. I had skin to skin as soon as I was back in recovery and breastfeeding was established.

In relation to recovery, I would advise taking it very easy for as long as you need. Easier if its DC1 and you have plenty of support. I did, and actually had very little pain. Any pain is a good signifiers that you're doing too much!

Good luck!

suntodayplease Fri 27-Sep-13 09:54:17

Thanks very much, glad to hear despite it being an emergency section all went well. This is DC2 so I need to get organised at home as I suspect I won't get much chance to rest peacefully! Useful to know if I'm in pain I'm over doing it.

Excited2meetmyprincess Fri 27-Sep-13 09:54:55

I have been wondering the same sun so thanks for posting this. Will be watching for replies x

maggiethemagpie Fri 27-Sep-13 09:59:52

I had an emergency section 2 and a half years ago and a planned one on Monday.

They will call you in to theatre when ready for you and put a few drips into a line in your hand, for fluid and drugs. They then put an injection in your back for the spinal anaesthetic and your legs start to feel warm and fuzzy, pretty soon you can't feel a thing and can't move from the chest down. Then they put a catheter in your bladder and put the drapes on you so that you can't see the operation.
Before they start the op your birth partner comes in and sits next to you. The surgeons then start the op although the anaesthetist stays at the head end so you have a medical person near you.

There is lots of tugging and pulling and it takes around 5-10 mins for them to pull out the baby and cut the cord. I was briefly shown the baby straight away, they then took her to clean her and remove mucus from the throat as is common with c section babies. She was then wrapped and handed to my partner and stayed with us for the rest of the time. Whilst we were cooing over her they got the placenta out and stitched me up, this took another 30 mins or so. By this time you don't care what they are doing as you are too preoccupied with the baby!

I was too numb to hold the baby myself, and felt quite out of it from all the drugs so my partner held her throughout and I just stroked her.

They took us to recovery we were there for around an hour then went to another room where I stayed for about 8 hours before going to postnatal ward. The baby stays with you the whole time unless there is a problem - they will put it in a plastic cot that gets wheeled about wherever you go.

It took a few hours to come down from all the drugs and get feeling back in my legs, I was a bit nauseous but nothing too serious.

I was then in hospital a further 3 nights (should have been 2 but they didn't have enough paedetricians to check the baby!) and it did hurt quite a lot the first couple of days but gets quite manageable quite quickly, now it's four days later and it's occasionally a bit painful but really nothing a few paracetemol can't deal with. They take the catheter out after 12-24 hours so during that time you are bed bound but the midwives should help with baby care etc if your partner is not there. They remove the dressing the next day - mine bled a bit so they had to put it on again, but they are keen not to leave it on too long as they need it to start healing.

As for what to take with you - take a few nighties as they will get bloody, buy the biggest pants you can find that come up as far as they can (I went for Tesco extra large microfiber shorts which are £5 for 2 but sooo worth it) as you don't want anything that will fall down and touch the stitches, bring a good few clothes for baby as you may be in a few days. And this is not c section specific but my hospital don't provide blankets, only sheets so a blanket is essential if you don't want to be cold at night. And make sure you have lots of over bump maternity things for the weeks after the op as you don't want anything touching the scar!

Hope this helps.

Laquila Fri 27-Sep-13 10:03:13

EllaMenOhPea has basically written what I was going to write, but I would also add - pack massive granny pants that will go up over your wound, and be prepared for everyone to say "wound" a lot, as in, "How's your WOUND today, dear?", whilst you lie there thinking, "I haven't been in a duel, for God's sake".

I have to say, I found my EMCS a lot less traumatic than I thought it would be, and was also pleasantly surprised by the speed of recovery, but this was definitely partially down to taking it very easy for a good few days, although crucially, staying mobile, and also making the most of being in hospital for a few nights and having meals brought to you and a bed that tips you up and down without you having to move smile

pingulingo Fri 27-Sep-13 10:05:00

Pack some straws / cartons of drink. The beds are adjustable in hospital but if you just want a quick drink just using a straw to drink is quicker!

I found lieing down to breastfeed easier in the beginning. I just used a pillow to support my side/scar. When I got home I found a breastfeeding pillow useful as it cushioned any pressure on my scar and I got to sit down on the sofa with a free hand for a cup of tea / biscuit!

Take some painkillers an hour before the midwife comes to take your stitches out. And take your dressing off in the shower - peels off dead easy then.

How old will DC be? Are they old enough to understand that you can't lift them for a while?

suntodayplease Fri 27-Sep-13 10:05:58

Maggie that's so helpful, thank you very much for your reply.

Laquila Fri 27-Sep-13 10:07:40

Just to say - in my case they put the catheter in before the spinal, which wasn't particularly fun, but I'm sure it came out sooner than 12-24 hrs after, although tbh it's all a bit of a blur now! I have to say it felt like it all happened within a few minutes, although that's probably not the case.

I think they generally offer morphine for c-sections but I wasn't offered this and was fine with the (fairly copious amounts of) ibuprofen and co-codamol they gave me afterwards.

rallytog1 Fri 27-Sep-13 10:09:17

I found the hospital beds really uncomfortable after my cs - I got my DH to bring me a memory foam v pillow which really helped. I also second what a pp said about taking in a blanket - also makes you feel a bit more comforted!

I found it much easier to be in nighties for the first few days, as bending to pull on PJ bottoms was v sore. Mothercare do some really good maternity nighties which I lived in for about a week!

Recovery-wise, best tip is to make sure you take all the pain killers you're offered in hospital, even if you think you feel better. When the meds start to wear off you can feel really quite sore so I found it best to keep 'topped up' for the first week or so.

suntodayplease Fri 27-Sep-13 10:12:58

X posts thanks for more useful tips! DD is 2.6 so I've explained about not lifting and I've tried to get her as independent as possible over the last few months as I figured I'd have my hands full in any event when the baby arrives.
Will add straws to the list, just read the letters the consultant gave me which I completely forgot about it says to only bring in clothes for the baby and leave the rest in the car till your transfered to the ward. Will have never packed such a small bag before!

Peacenquiet2 Fri 27-Sep-13 11:06:06

Hi ladies, i will also be having an emcs, am only 16 weeks with dc3 so not for a while. But its good to hear about peoples experiences to prepare both mentally and practically so thanks for the posts even if this is'nt my thread.

Can i ask somthing that might not seem significant; i read recently that the vaginal cavity is cleaned out after a c section, did any of you ladies expetience this? I know i will bleed similar to how i did with my vaginal births but why the need for the clean?
Does'nt particularly bother me im just curious.

maggiethemagpie Fri 27-Sep-13 11:13:55

Hi peacenquiet, they could have been doing a complete refurb in my vaginal cavity after the op and I wouldn't have known!
Basically you can't feel a thing, the drapes are still up and all your attention will be on your new baby so unless they actually tell you what they're planning to do, you wouldn't know unless you ask.

I presumed they would leave that area well alone and just let it bleed after the op as it would do after a vaginal birth, but I could be wrong, only never heard of this before.

ShowOfHands Fri 27-Sep-13 11:14:47

This thread from a few days ago might help too.

elliejjtiny Fri 27-Sep-13 11:19:34

My DS4 was taken to NICU so a bit different but this is my experience:

My section was scheduled for 9am so at 8am I was taken from antenatal ward to labour ward. I put on a hospital gown but left my knickers and a pad on because my waters were leaking. Had my ring taped down and took my watch off. Went to the loo. DH arrived and got into scrubs and I took a photo of him. I cried and got reassured by 2 lovely midwives. We went for a tour of NICU.

We walked into the operating room with 2 midwives who stayed for the operation. I sat on the operating table and DH was given a chair near the head end, close enough to hold my hand. Everyone introduced themselves, there were 2 surgeons, 2 anaesthetists and a nurse. They put the spinal in which wasn't as painful as I expected and then I lay down on the operating table. Someone pulled my gown up and clipped it to a pole on either side of me so I couldn't see anything. Someone else put a drip in. The midwives shaved some of my pubic hair and the anaesthetist put an ice cube on my feet, then knees then tummy, asking if I could feel it. I could feel my tummy but not my legs so he said we needed to give it another few minutes. The midwives took my knickers off and put the catheter in. He did the ice cube test again and I couldn't feel anything up to my boobs. He stuck a needle in my tummy just to make sure. Someone put a green sheet over me and they started. I was shaking and felt like I was going to fall off the table, that was the worst bit. I could move my head and arms but that was it. The anaesthetist was chatting to me and DH. Everyone was really relaxed.

I kept saying to tell me when DS was out. DH took a load of photos of him half way out and gave me a running commentary of what was going on. I could hear him screaming before I saw him. The surgeon held him up briefly so I could see him. They waited until the cord had stopped pulsating and then they cut the cord. The anaesthetist put something in my drip to make the placenta separate. The midwives took him, weighed him, measured him, put a hat on him and wrapped him in a towel. I could see little glimpses of him from where I was. The anaesthetist went over to him with our camera and took more photos. They brought him to DH for a cuddle. The anaesthetist took more photos. I was talking to him and he was looking at me but I wasn't close enough to touch him. I was desperate for a cuddle but I was still shaking. The anaesthetist put the radio on. I asked to see the placenta so the nurse brought it over in a box and said it looked very healthy and was complete.

The midwives said DS was grunting and needed to be in NICU. I wanted to hold him first so they lay him on my chest but kept hold of him like you would do if a toddler wanted a cuddle with a newborn because I was still shaking. DH took more photos and the midwives took him to NICU. The surgeon said she was just stitching up the last layer of skin. When they'd finished they took the green sheet off and put my gown down. The midwives came back with my bed and I was lifted onto it and wheeled back to the labour ward.

I had my BP, pulse and temp taken and given tea and toast while DH was taken down to NICU. The midwives helped me take my gown off and put my nightie on. DH came back and showed me pictures. We phoned the grandparents and after about 2 hours I was taken to the postnatal ward. DH went off to fetch the older DC's from the grandparents. The spinal wore off at about 3pm so I was taken in a wheelchair to NICU at about 4pm. The catheter was taken out the next morning and I was expected to be up and walking around after that.

Tips: Big pants are a must.

Use an extra maternity pad to put over your scar.

Rest as much as you can. I was constantly shuffling from NICU to postnatal and I was expressing so shuffling down to the kitchen to sterilise the pump which I'm sure made things worse.

When you get dressed, maternity leggings and jersey dresses are the most comfy.

Take all the painkillers you are offered for at least a week.

Don't be afraid to buzz for help or not do things. I was asked if I wanted to come with DS to the other side of the hospital on the day after the C-section and I felt so guilty for saying no, I can't walk that far.

If you want to stay an extra night to make full use of the oramorph and the electric bed don't be afraid to ask. I was desperate to escape though.

Hope that helps, any questions just shout.

ShowOfHands Fri 27-Sep-13 11:23:56

I assume they clean you out because they're simulating the third stage. You won't have the massive expulsive effort of the placenta and any clots and debris being passed after the delivery so they are sort of simulating that and leaving a clean wound which can then start to heal itself. Plus, in order to check everything's come away, they've left things as should be and they can stitch up neatly, they probably need a clear as possible working area iyswim.

elliejjtiny Fri 27-Sep-13 11:24:13

Forgot to add don't drink anything fizzy afterwards as you will get trapped wind.

VioletHunter Fri 27-Sep-13 11:24:59

Yep, they clean you up down below once they've finished stitching. With that and the catheter there's no more dignity involved in a cs than in a vb! It's to lower risk of infection in the womb/incision.

Peacenquiet2 Fri 27-Sep-13 11:37:20

Ahhh, that explains it. Its honestly somthing i never had a clue happened after a c section. Thanks for the info ladies.

suntodayplease Fri 27-Sep-13 11:42:46

Thank you Show, I hadn't seen that thread. Brilliant. Glad to read so many positive stories.

dodil Fri 27-Sep-13 18:38:27

This may seem silly but what I was so glad of after my c section was my rechargeable GTECH cordless electronic sweeper! You are not allowed to use a vacuum cleaner for six weeks after the operation but I could easily whip round with this lightweight sweeper. It was great for the early days back at home when lots of friends and relatives visited (and left crumbs!). That was 3 years ago and it is still going strong today - great for quick clear ups in between proper vacuuming.

The other things I would recommend have already been mentioned such as big pants - I bought packs of five cotton high waist ones from M&S. I found the disposable maternity pants from Mothercare - well, pants! They were not nice at all - very thin, transparent and papery

The pain was very manageable with the painkillers I got from the hospital. What was more annoying was the wound itching when it was healing - but that did not last too long.

I went in on the Tuesday, had the c section at 11.45am and was home by Thursday afternoon. I was up showering on my own on the Wednesday morning and had lots of visitors that day so time passed very quickly.

I found the whole experience very civilised and quite calm - it was a planned C section.

Try not to worry, it all happens quick quickly and you really don't notice what the doctors/nurses are doing to you after they put your lovely new baby in your arms.

Best of luck,

Tinyflutterby Sat 28-Sep-13 06:30:00

It's good to read other people's experiences so thank you for that. I had a c section 2 years ago and as it wasn't planned it was really all a bit of a blur and I don't remember much other than being in shock and feeling like I hadn't given birth for ages afterwards. I am currently 31 weeks pregnant and having an ELCS in November, so it's been very useful to read all the tips. Things I do remember from last time were also:

normal pants rubbed my scar, so I'll be packing granny pants

the beds only had sheets and I was freezing during the night, so I'll be taking a blanket

the pillows were incredibly thin and plasticky, so I'll be taking a couple of my own

I found recovery difficult, however I do have a chronic condition also, so am currently looking at ways of help around the house as I have a 2 year old to look after this time too! If anyone has any tips on this I'd appreciate it as I don't have family nearby and not sure how I'm going to manage.

pudseypie Sat 28-Sep-13 07:52:32

Other things I remember from my emcs that I'm not sure have been mentioned or not are that there are a lot of people in the room. My ds was initially shown to me then checked by paediatricians before going back to the room with dh where they had 1.5 hours skin to skin contact before I came out of theatre. As well as the catheter I had a drain in which they took both out about 48 hours later but I think it's normally quicker than that but I had a couple of issues. Loose clothing and big knickers definitely what you need afterwards! Wish I'd been told earlier but someone told me weeks after to stick a sanitary pad onto the inside top / waistband of my knickers to provide some cushioning against the scar whilst it's sore.

pingulingo Sat 28-Sep-13 10:55:36

I've had two c-sections and the anesthetists were amazing both times and they have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves.

So if you feel a bit sick, faint or panicky (my first EMCS got a bit tricky) then they just tweak what drugs they are giving you - so do tell your anesthetist if you do feel a bit wonky in any way.

Laquila Sat 28-Sep-13 17:05:48

pudsey that's a good point - it felt as though there were about 25 people in the room when I was in theatre, but in reality it was probably no more than 7 or 8

mikkii Sat 28-Sep-13 17:26:03

Pingulingo, yes, I felt very sick so they gave me something, it was because my blood pressure suddenly plummeted, but I felt it before the machines registered it.

Big pants have to be the main thing.

I had an elcs with DC2 and an emcs with DC3. With DC2, they sent DH and the baby out of the operating theatre as they were a bit worried, but DH stayed with the baby.

With DC3, she was put into a warmer in the theatre for about 10 minutes, but didn't leave us.

There can be lots of people. With DC3 we had 3 anaesthetists and 3 midwives, aediatricians plus assorted others. It was busy, but despite being an emcs there was till a really nice atmosphere. It turned out the (male) midwife assigned to the baby was from near my husband's home town in Spain so we had multilingual banter going on.

TransatlanticCityGirl Sat 28-Sep-13 20:19:09

I had an EMCS. Before I went in they removed my polish from my finger nails (but it was fine to keep my toe nails polished). They asked me a bunch of questions about my medical history. I was told I could not keep the hairband in my hair as it had a metal bit on it - so suggest buying the ones without one. They also put some flight socks on me.

During the section, the anesthetic gives you the sensation of feeling cold so I was shivering quite a lot. Lots of pulling and tugging.

Afterwards, I think it took a couple of hours for the epidural to wear off. I was able to stand up as soon as I could feel my toes, and I wasn't in any pain at all. They kept bringing me rounds of drugs telling me to 'keep on top of the meds' but I honestly felt fine and sometimes forgot to take them.

They wanted to leave the catheter in for 24 hours, but after 4-6 hours I insisted that I was fine to use the loo and that it needs to be taken out now and they obliged, but asked me to pee in a bowl to prove that I was passing urine fine. Much better than having a catheter as it restricted my mobility too much and I kept tripping over it every time I went for a walk.

I was told to keep the flight socks on which I found uncomfortable. Best to have slippers rather than flip flops for this reason.

I insisted on being discharged after 2 days as I wasn't getting any sleep in the shared rooms.

When I got home I was careful about obvious things - e.g. not lifting the buggy into the car boot, not picking up my 9 months old nephew etc. But apart from that I was fine and normal. Walked to the shopping centre with baby in buggy for groceries 3 days after delivery (husband carried the groceries home), and we live one the 3rd story of a flat with no lift and I was fine to carry DD up and down no problem.

By two weeks after delivery I was almost completely back to my old self. My niece was in town visiting and we did tons of sightseeing over the next 6 weeks. She of course helped me with any heavy lifting until nearer her departure.

pudseypie Sat 28-Sep-13 20:36:26

Just remembered that while I was bed bound after the section I had the flight socks on but also electronic moon boots that massaged my calves to keep my legs blood flowing to prevent dvt. Had those on for 2 days until I was able to get out of bed. Not sure if they are normal or not? They were a bit noisy and irritating but I wasn't allowed to remove them, even if I could have sat up. (I had a bad emcs so won't elaborate any further)

Gooseysgirl Sat 28-Sep-13 20:47:47

M&S cotton Lycra humongous pants, two or three sizes bigger than you normally take.

Flip flops so you don't have to bend over to put on slippers, also double up as useful for shower room if the floors are skanky.

Shower gel in a bottle with a hook.

I found I couldn't hold DD for an hour after I came out of theatre as I got very shaky while the anaesthetic was wearing off, DH did skin to skin until I was ready to hold her.

During surgery I found it difficult to take deep breaths, my GORGEOUS anaesthetist reassured me that this was normal and due to the anaesthetic.

I drove 4 weeks after the op, car insurance company said the six weeks is just a guide and that it's ok to drive once you feel you could do an emergency stop safely.

Make sure you have good strong pain relief medication prescribed before you leave hospital. Paracetamol would definitely not have cut it for me!!!

Try to avoid any route driving home from hospital that has speed bumps and get your DP to drive slowly around roundabouts... I say this because my marriage nearly ended in divorce on that journey home, while DD was slumbering oblivious in her car seat I was screeching at my DH to slow down to 1MPH going over those fecking bumps...

Drink l

Gooseysgirl Sat 28-Sep-13 20:50:31

Whoops posted too soon..

Drink loads of water after op, they wouldn't remove my cannula until I was producing adequate amounts of urine.

I also took arnica to help the scar heal... no idea if it really works but my scar healed beautifully and the community midwife asked me if I had used arnica when I had my check up.

evelynj Sat 28-Sep-13 21:43:10

Havent read thread so apologies if repeating.

Do as little as poss for 3 weeks after min & then build up.

Lookninto cranial osteopaths near you for taking baby to.

Also get some infant probiotic .

Last 2 points are due to baby not getting good bacteria from birth canal & my baby had colic (poss completely unrelated to cs but was breech whole time) & cranial osteopath was total miracle.

Good luck!

Northernexile Sat 28-Sep-13 22:38:45

Some great advice here! Did anyone up thread mention constipation? I suffered terribly due to the pain killers - lactulose became my friend,and I would definitely advise to keep up the fluid intake.

pudseypie Sat 28-Sep-13 22:50:42

Oh yes how could I forget the constipation? ! Didn't go for 6 days. Midwives gave me some peppermint to ease my tummy which helped a lot with cramps from that.

Tiredemma Sun 29-Sep-13 09:26:04

I had EMCS on the 7th september - I can only echo all the other practical advice on here.

The only thing that I would add would be that for my time in the theatre, getting prepped for delivery, the surgery and the immediate recovery, the staff were amazing and I can only describe this as literally feeling as if I was the most important person in the world at that point.

About 10 health care professionals all there to care for me and my baby- Im still sometimes overwhelmed at how they made me feel.

best of luck for your section.

also just as an aside- in terms of recovery i would imagine that everyone is very different but I actually found the physical recovery to be much better than the recovery after both vaginal births.

efeslight Sun 29-Sep-13 21:24:38

Yes, the struggle to go to the toilet after was one of the most painful memories... pressing gently on the whole area really helped, I think it just helped support the tissue and stopped it feeling like everything was going to burst

Lozza70 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:57:17

I've had an EMCS and and ELCS. Preferred the ELCS, surgical stockings on and then walked through to the theatre where the anesthetist sited the epidural. That was pretty easy and it takes effect quickly. I had a really warm feeling in my feet and legs I remember but the anesthetist takes a lot of interest in how you are feeling. Apart from that the atmosphere in the theatre was really relaxed and the nurses etc. chatted with me while they were getting me ready. Once I was all set up my husband came in and sit by my head. The section seemed really quick but you do feel a little pushing as they deliver your baby. Once the baby is born the midwife will bring them over for you to see. Ask if you want some skin to skin. Then DH went with the midwife while Ds2 was weighed and dressed him and I was stitched up. Then I was wheeled into recovery and Ds was given to me to feed. The midwife then got me a cup of tea and a sandwich before I was wheeled up to the ward. There I was told to ring if I needed anything, they changed Ds2 nappy and passed him over to me if he was crying and needed a feed or soothing. The next morning once my catheter was removed I was out of bed and walking around. Everyone recovers differently but I was ready to go home in a couple of days.

I would take all the pain relief they give you and buy big knickers. You don't want to irritate your wound.

I was walking with the buggy 5 days after the section and out shopping 7 days later. Driving in a couple of weeks. But everyone if different on the recovery front. Just do NOT Hoover for 6 weeks. No twisting at the waist!

suntodayplease Sun 29-Sep-13 22:51:49

This has been so useful, thanks for everyone's replies. I've picked up loads of tips and I'm a lot more aware of what may happen now. The info the consultant gave me was useful but focused mainly on the risks, and doesn't offer the practical advice I was really after. Hopefully others have picked up tips too.
Good luck to anyone else in a similar position!

Suzietwo Wed 02-Oct-13 19:58:26

I haved had two emcs and have two things to add to the very useful advice above.

1. Liquid morphine might make you sick. Don't panic if it does.
2. Be extremely aware of the possibility of infection. My first got infected and I had a very bad keloid scar as a result (am prone to them anyway). My second got extremely nastily infected internally and the pain was much wose than anything else I have felt. It took me a few days to get it properly diagnosed and by then it was quite bad. It took 3 months to be discharged from the district nurses.

If I have another I will request anti biotics as a matter of course.

MrsKwazii Wed 02-Oct-13 20:30:40

When you get home, stick to wearing pjs if you can for a while to feel comfy, help if you're breastfeeding but most of all, to send the message to visitors that you are recovering from an operation - I think that people can forget that you've had major surgery and visitors can need visual cues to get their finger out and put the kettle on themselves.

pinkr Wed 02-Oct-13 22:16:55

One thing I found was after when It stood up I had blood pouring out of me once or twice...scared me silly but the midwife said its just pooled whilst lying in need and quite normal. She weighed the towels and the first tine it was about 300ml. my vaginal blessing didn't settle for two Weeks although it was only heavy first three days but if I did too much out increased!

dottyaboutstripes Wed 02-Oct-13 22:23:17

I recommend peppermint oil capsules - I had horrendous pain from trapped wind

JollySleepyGiant Wed 02-Oct-13 22:23:59

Do not, three weeks in, lift the toddler while carrying the baby in the sling. Bursting your scar is no fun.

Not that I would have done such a stupid thing. Oh no.

I had 4 doctors, 2 anaesthetists, 2 students, a midwife and 2 theatre nurses in theatre.

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