So based on my personal experience, and my own opinion only... delivering a baby is f'ing traumatic no matter how it happens and everyone needs to stop pretending like it's no big deal. Seriously, it is crazy. Also, everyone needs to stop pretending like it's just totally regular to pop out a baby, immediately know how to breastfeed, get back into shape and go back to taking care of your other kids, and then in a couple short weeks, drag your swollen, overtired self into work. Just stop.
My first child is and always has been stubborn. He had set up shop inside my belly and wasn't coming out. After 41 weeks of pregnancy- 36, yes you read that right, I said 36- hours of labor and a couple hours of pushing I would have let my husband cut him out of me with a butter knife. Luckily, my OB offered instead. I still remember asking her in the middle of this "on a scale of 1 to 10, how good are you at C-sections". She said she was pretty good and I knew she was better than my husband with a butter knife, so into the O.R. we went.
Was I prepared for what was about to happen? Absolutely not. No one tells you what they actually have to do to get that baby out. I mean, the baby isn't just sitting there behind a thin layer of skin ready to jump out. I'll spare you the details but they have to cut through quite a few layers and move some other stuff out of the way. It is a major surgery!
My son came out healthy and thriving and of course that's the most important thing. I was discharged from the hospital a less than 48 hours after my emergency c-section. Yes. This is a true story. I was in the hospital just as long before he was born as after. As your can imagine, I was tired and in pain to say the least.
So I wasn't prepared the first time, and honestly that was a good thing because I didn't have time to worry about what was to come. When I found out I was pregnant the second time, my second feeling after pure ecstatic excitement was dread. Dread, because I knew I would eventually have to get this baby out of me. Based on my previous experience, my O.B. and I decided to plan for another C-Section.
Thank goodness, the second one was easier. Like, way easier. Why you ask? Well honestly I think not having to be in labor for any length of time helped my body a lot. I made sure to go to bed early the night before so I was well rested. But as I said before, we don't always get the luxury of knowing in advance so here are some things that I believe helped:
1. Get up and walk.
This may sound like the worst thing ever and it honestly feels pretty bad the first couple of times, but it does help speed up recovery and also lowers your risk of blood clots. My daughter was in the NICU for observation so I had no choice other than to get up out of my room to see her every couple of hours, but by the end of our stay I was walking with little pain.
This may sound impossible with a newborn and possibly older children at home. You need to ask for extra help so you can sleep. Again... major surgery people!! But most likely you will have to ask for extra help. Why? Because people like to act like delivering a baby is no big deal and that having a c-section is on par with having a mole lasered off.
3. Manage pain.
I found that asking for pain medicine at my scheduled times kept pain away so that it never became unbearable. With that said, I do suggest doing your best to come off the narcotics and go to over the counter medication before going home if possible. After my first c-section, I had narcotics for a few more weeks and I can definitely understand how people get addicted. The second time around, I did well enough with ibuprofen after a few days.
4. Take all the miralax!
Being constipated is maybe the worst part of the whole thing. Especially when every nurse and doctor is pressuring you to go number 2. Get ahead of it and take the stool softeners in the hospital.
When I got home from the hospital I also started taking Natural Calm Magnesium, not only does it aid digestion, it is a natural stress reducer and helps with sleep. The walking I mentioned earlier and drinking a ton of water also help.
5. Get compression underwear or a girdle.
Just do it. I wore mine pretty much 24/7 for about the first 6 weeks. I could tell the difference when I would take it off for short periods of time. It makes a big difference.
I personally preferred the compression underwear because I felt that I had more movement but was still held in.
6. Wear Adult Diapers.
There will be blood. Lots of blood. Spare yourself from uncomfortable pads. You don't have to tell anyone, just do it.
I'm not going to lie to you and say a c-section "isn't that bad". Again, I think we all need to stop pretending like giving birth is no big deal. I will tell you that you are superwoman and you can and will get through it with the most incredible reward at the end.