I never expected it, but my girls (all three) were born via c-section. Thank goodness I didn’t go into my first pregnancy with strong opinions about a birth plan, because I would have realized very quickly that those decisions were out of my control completely!
After a uneventful and easy first pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia at 38 weeks. I was immediately induced, labored for 17 hours with no progression, and had an emergency C-section. My second and third babies were scheduled c-sections for a few reasons: scar tissue, VBAC restrictions at my current hospital, and my own choice.
So I have been through this c-section process three times. By the third, I thought to write down a “timeline” to remeber how it all happened. I record it here to share with new moms, hopefully to take away the fear and questions about c-sections. This is just my experience, but maybe can give you an idea of what you’re heading for!
Day of C-Section
5:30am (2 hours before scheduled surgery time)
- Arrived at the hospital two hours before scheduled surgery time. What is this? The airport?!
- Filled out ALL the forms- bring all your IDs, insurance cards, etc.
- Put on a lovely hospital gown
- Got hooked up to the sensors that go around the belly that sense Baby’s heartbeat and your blood pressure. These are super annoying. They don’t stay in place, and the nurses will adjust them several times!
- Got blood work taken and an IV. I had a fantastic nurse who did my IV perfectly and I barely felt it! With my second, I had the worst IV and it bothered me the whole time!
- Husband: Grabbed our hospital bag and parked the car.
6:30am (1 hour before scheduled surgery)
- Met the docs- anesthesiologist and OB. They answered questions and explained the process. My doctor was so great. She said, “Lets have a BABY!”
- They made me drink a shot of this nasty liquid that supposedly prevents you from being nauseous.
- Husband: He got some scrubs and took some selfies! Also, just a reminder that now that you’re attached to all sorts of cords, he is in charge of all your stuff, phone included. Make a plan about who will take the initial pictures of you and baby! You won’t want to miss those first moments!
- I hate to say it, but this was the worst part. I went into the Operating Room without my husband, as they prepare for surgery. It is very surgical, chilly, and bright. They prepped me for surgery, did the anesthesia, and the catheter.
- Husband: Stuck outside the OR, waiting.
- BABY TIME! Surgery begins. The actual surgery didn’t take very long. My husband sat by my head the whole time.
- Baby was born! They held up the baby so I could see her! Dad watched. The dads can watch as much or as little as they’d like.
- I was stitched up, while Dad held the newborn
- In the same room, they took the baby’s weight, height, etc.
- *I should mention that I had some intense shoulder pain at this point. It semed very random, but they said it’s normal.
- I was moved to my recovery room
- I had leg wraps put on, which squeeze your legs and prevent clotting. These are very restricting!
- This was the time I got very sick from all the meds and puked several times. Hold off on visitors for a few hours for this reason!
10am- 2pm (Two hours after birth)
- Our first visitors came, and my baby got to meet her sisters and family!
- I was still super sick for about two hours.
- First attempt at nursing! And it was a failed attempt because every time I tried to sit up, I puked.
- Our first successful nursing session didn’t happen until 1pm, almost five hours after she was born. I kept asking the nurses if she would be okay, and they reassured me that she was fine!
2-6pm (Six hours after birth)
- Our visitors left, we mostly slept! I slowly got feeling back in my legs. It took longer than I expected!
- This is when we sent and received lots of messages and texts!
- Also, my husband left to get late lunch!
- I got to eat for the first time, just crackers and toast.
6-8pm (Ten hours after birth)
- We had a few more visitors come and bring gifts!
- We wrote in baby book, which I was glad I had brought. I wanted to remember the first moments!
8-10pm (12 hours after birth)
- A nurse came in and offered to give the baby her first bath. She bathed her, wrapped her up, and made keepsake footprints. My older girls loved watching this process!
- We Skyped with the grandparents who were not in town, so they could see the baby!
- Then my husband left to go home to our older girls. When we had our first child, Paul stayed overnight with me in the hospital, which I really appreciated. It’s so nice to have an extra set of hands when you’re still so incapacitated from the surgery. But this time around, he needed to get back home. We were on our own for a bit!
- I kept her in my room, but let her sleep in her rolling bassinet. She was a good sleeper right from the start.
10pm-12am (14 hours after birth)
- The nurse brought me a little more food to eat, because I had missed most of dinner when I was sick. I was feeling better by then.
- Then, a nurse helped me get up out of bed for the first time! It felt so good to move and stand! I knew I needed to get moving as much as possible to speed up the recovery. The nurses are so helpful, because your mobility is super limited at this point.
- This was also the point where the wonderful nurses removed my toe heart rate sensor, the leg wraps, and the IV bag. It felt so much better to have less cords coming out of me! The only thing left was the IV, which they had to leave in for a little longer, just in case.
- This middle of the night period was when the baby and I really figured out how to breast feed. It is not as natural of a process as you’d think! It took some trying. Also, it is totally different with each child!
2-6am (18 hours after birth, first overnight)
- A nurse came in to take the baby to do the newborn screening. They actually rolled her out in her bassinet, so I took the opportunity to sleep a bit! It was wonderful!
- This is also when they started to give me oral pain meds, instead of the IV. They were helpful about explaining the different meds and how they might make me feel. I asked a lot of questions. I was nervous about taking those serious pain medications.
- The first night was a blur of sleeping, nurses checking on me, pain meds, and nursing.
6am-10am (22 hours after birth)
- Once the morning hit, it was a rotating cast of doctors and nurses visiting us. I had a lab technician come do blood work, a nurse explained my meds (narcotics, ibuprofen, stool softener, tums), my OB visited and removed my bandage to look at my scar, and the pediatrician came to meet the baby. I was still a little foggy!
- At this point, I was feeling much better. I didn’t feel nauseated, and the pain meds were making the incision pain tolerable.
- I held the baby and we watched some TV.
10am-4pm (26 hours after birth)
- My husband came back with the girls and they each held the baby.
- I finally got to shower! It was wonderful to feel refreshed.
- Most of the afternoon was resting, sleeping, and nursing.
4-9pm (32 hours after birth)
- This was the first time I really felt up to having visitors. We only had three visitors. My advice is to hold off until about this point to let anyone come to visit. You need that time to get settled into having a new baby, and recovering from the incision.
9pm-8am (37 hours after birth, then 2nd overnight)
- This night was much more restful. The baby slept on my chest at times, and in her bassinet at times. We nursed every two hours or so, focusing on getting a full feeding. Nurses popped in and out, but let me sleep quite a bit.
- I slept as much as possible!
- I got up and walked around our room a bit. I was careful not to push myself, but I liked the freedom.
8am (48 hours after surgery)
- Both the doctor and pediatrician visited, doing check ins before we went home. The doctor showed me all the meds and talked me through the plan for taking and weaning myself off the medications. The pediatrician came to check the baby once more, and talked me through routines for sleeping and feeding. We also set an appointment for two days later to check her weight and then a 2-week old appointment for the baby.
- Then, we filled out all the discharge paperwork, loaded up all our stuff on the cart, and went home! So we were out of the hospital at 50 hours or so, which is pretty early. I wouldn’t rush it until you feel ready!
- The ride home was super painful, and I felt every bump in my incision. We stopped at the pharmacy on the way home to fill my prescriptions.
- We took a family picture as soon as we got home! We were a family of FIVE! 🙂
How does your c-section experience compare? I wish you all the best if you’re headed to a scheduled c-section! Feel free to message me with questions or comments! I know it’s scary, but you can do this!