I would probably run out of the fingers if I counted the number of women who gloated about a C-section delivery. They have a variety of birth stories, and every one of them has something different from the other. They all love to spill tales of how amazing a C-section was and how they barely felt pain. Though, I did find a handful who had quite some horrific experiences, at least post-pregnancy. They had little details, which left them confused. With last minute rush, they swear they should have prepped themselves better. So, while you may have opted for a C-section or your doctor might recommend it, make sure you ask a few questions to the doctor to prevent last minute panic.
1. Which anesthesia would be used?
Epidural is the widely used anesthesia for a C-section (and also for vaginal births), and it is provided through a narrow tube as and when required. The other alternative method is spinal block, where a one-time injection is given. It has an immediate effect but lasts only a few hours. Most doctors recommend epidural as it will help you nurse your baby immediately (1). Understanding both the options before hand will help you choose better.
2. Can I drink or eat before surgery?
Doctors mostly tell you not to drink or eat eight hours before the surgery because it could cause complications. But ask your doctor about what you can eat or avoid before surgery.
3. How long will the surgery take?
C-section generally takes 45 minutes to an hour. Knowing the duration of surgery will help you and your family prepare and plan a lot of things.
4. Can I have my husband in the room during surgery?
Ask your doctor if he can permit your husband to witness the birthing process. Check if he is allowed to take pictures when you give birth.
5. Can I hold my baby after C-section?
It’s important to discuss this with your doctor because the early skin-to-skin contact (SSC) (2) is crucial for the baby as it has many benefits including breastfeeding success. Each hospital has a different policy with regards to newborns, so check with the hospital and doctors. In fact, you can insist on SSC with your baby after birth.
6. Can I breastfeed after the surgery?
C-section involves sutures on your abdomen. Breastfeeding can be difficult for the first three days. Ask your doctor if you can lie down on your side and breastfeed or introduce formula to your baby. Let your doctor know you are keen on breastfeeding. Then check if there’s a possibility of breast crawl (3) or expressing breast milk to feed your baby.
7. When will I be discharged?
In normal C-sections, the mother is discharged after four days, but in cases where the mother wants to undergo hysterectomy (4), it might take longer. So talk to your doctor if you are considering sterilization. Your doctor can help you decide the sterilization that is right for you depending on your weight, medical history, and other factors.
8. How much time should I rest after C-section?
Doctors usually recommend two to three months of rest. However, some postpartum moms might require more time. Check with your doctor on how much time you need to rest after discharge. Mothers with obesity and gestational diabetes might have to rest more than other moms.
9. How can abdominal strain be avoided?
The less the pressure on abdomen the better is the healing. If you are want to get back to exercising or indulge in heavy household chores, check with your doctor if you can do so. Note, excessive pressure can have an increased risk of a hernia (5).
10. Can I use birth control methods?
You might not be in a frame of mind to have sex with the physical strain and with a newborn around. But to be informed before hand about sex protection, discuss with your doctor about the birth control methods that are safe.
11. Will I have a flat stomach?
Don’t fall for the empty promises of those weight-loss advertisements to shed baby weight. Talk to your doctor before trying any herbal teas or fat burning belts.
12. Will the scar lighten?
No, it won’t! It may lighten down eventually, but if you are hoping that it will vanish with a magic cure, clarify your doubts with the doctor.
13. Can I get a massage?
Massages do help with post-partum recovery and stress (6). However, check with your doctor about the kind of massage you can opt for and the allowed duration.
14. Will I have a C-section for the second baby also?
Vaginal births are sometimes possible during the second pregnancy. However, do check the possibility of it with your doctor. Also, check whether or not your body is fit enough to undergo a natural birth and ways to reduce the chances of a C-section.
15. Other questions to be asked:
- Time taken for healing the stitches. Will they dissolve on their own?
- Will there be any after effects?
- What if the anaesthesia wears off during the surgery?
- What exactly happens during C-section?
After knowing all this, there may be chances that you would need something in the last minute. And, things might not work out as planned in spite of meticulous planning, so don’t get anxious, just relax and remain positive and have a great Caesarean birthing experience.
If you had C-section delivery, let us know what made you choose it and how was your experience.