Soap on a Rope: 9 Things I Wish I Knew Before My C-Section

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I learned yesterday that one of my fave CILs (cousin-in-laws) is scheduled to deliver her first child via c-section in two weeks. Immediately, I wanted to compile a list of things to tell her beforehand so that she would be better prepared than I was. These are some of the things I wish someone had told me before my own c-section:

1) Arm restraints. They might strap your arms down for the surgery. This freaked me out a little, but I think I would have been fine with it if I had known beforehand that it was going to happen. Just know that this is a possibility, although I hear they don’t always do this.

2) “The Shakes.” You might get “the shakes” during surgery. I couldn’t control my upper body when I was lying on the O.R. table, and I was really worried the entire time that I was going to jerk my body and seriously mess something up as they were “working on me.” My anesthesiologist told me that this was a normal reaction to the anesthesia and not to worry.

3) Nausea. You might feel nauseous at some point during the c-section. I felt okay until the moment they took the baby out, and then nausea hit me hard. I told the anesthesiologist and he gave me an anti-nausea medication that provided almost immediate relief.

4) Cough pillow. If you have to cough or sneeze post-surgery, hold a pillow firmly across your incision with both hands while you cough or sneeze (to add counter pressure). My hospital provided a special “cough pillow” for me, but I’m not sure if all do. If you are not near a pillow when you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, use your hands to gently hold your tummy near the incision.

5) High-waisted bottoms. When you pack for the hospital, be sure to bring PJ bottoms or sweats that are loose-fitting and high-waisted. You want to make sure that the waistband will not hit you at the bikini line (like many low-rise styles do). Bring something that you can hike up well over your hips and can be worn granny-style. An alternative is packing a nightgown, if that’s your style.

6) Don’t try to be a hero. Don’t forget that you will have just gone through major abdominal surgery and you probably shouldn’t try to be a hero by forgoing the pain meds. The hospital I went to allowed us to self-administer our pain medication so I tried to take the least amount possible because I was concerned about how it would affect the baby through my breast milk (even though they told us it was safe, I still didn’t feel comfortable). I later learned from one of the nurses that it’s important to stay on top of your pain meds because once you get behind, it takes longer to get relief when you begin taking your meds again. I learned this the hard way.

7) Post-surgery shower. I was really squeamish about taking that first post-surgery shower. Prior to my c-section, I had never even had an IV before so I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried that the soapy water touching my new wound would sting like a mutha. Rest assured that it doesn’t hurt or sting. They cut a lot of nerve endings when they do the c-section so the area will be somewhat numb for quite some time. Be careful not to scrub the incision area. Just let warm water run over it and pat dry with a towel.

8) Soap on a Rope. Buy some soap on a rope, my friend! This might be my most important piece of advice. Trust me, as hard as you try not to, you WILL drop that bar of soap in the shower, and you will NOT be able to easily bend over and pick it up.

9) Don’t Overdo it. After about 4 weeks you may feel like you’re back to your old self again, but don’t overdo it. Baby yourself for a little while longer and let others pamper you. Otherwise you will be very sore around your incision site at night. Trust me. I also learned this the hard way.

So those are the 9 things I wish someone had told me before my c-section. You might be wondering why I didn’t just make this list “10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My C-Section,” but I only had nine things to say and I think it’d be super annoying to add another point just to round out my list.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert (obviously). This is merely a personal account of my c-section experience.

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