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Are you preparing for a c section? I'm sharing my story, and what I wish I had known years ago before mine.
This post is Sponsored by Pacira BioSciences, Inc. and BlogHer.
Better late than never. While I was talking to a friend about what I wished I'd known while preparing for a C-section with Lydia I realized I had never written about her birth story. It's been years, and I still remember the days leading up to Lydia's birth like they were yesterday (that's that whole time flies when they are little thing, right?).
Like any first time expecting parents, we wanted to do everything “correctly”. Robbie and I signed up for birthing classes, and each Wednesday night, we attended them along with three other couples at our hospital. The classes were great (the videos scared me a little but nothing I didn't expect). I remember the night vividly when the instructor brought up C-section statistics.She said that around 25% of births in North America are via C-section, which meant, in all likelihood, that at least one couple in the room would be having one. The irony is, in that moment….I knew it would be us. So many women are attached to a birth plan or ideal birth plan. And for whatever reason, from the beginning, I hadn't been. I was okay with medical interventions. I didn't have specific music I wanted. I didn't care about a birthing ball.So many of my friends were very interested in those things and I couldn't figure out WHY I wasn't. In hindsight, it was almost as if a part of me was preparing for a C-section all along without even knowing it.
A few weeks later, our doctor mentioned that the baby was still breech. We were getting close to the point where she should be in birthing position, and it wasn't happening. After a few appointments and after attempting all the home remedies I could find on the internet……Lydia was still upside down and high as could be.
We decided to attempt an external cephalic version. In layman's terms, at around 37 weeks, a version is the attempt to turn a fetus to birthing position physically. It wasn't sufficient. And frankly, I'm not sure I would recommend it. It was excruciating, and a lot scarier than I thought it would be. Would I have a different perspective if it had been successful? Maybe.
Either way, the C-section was scheduled, and I spent the next two weeks hoping I didn't go into labor before then. Spoiler, I didn't.We checked into the hospital at our allotted time (joking that our type a scheduled out family structure was going to be perfect for this baby), and all in all, I had an extremely positive experience.
My medical team (and Lydia's) were kind and communicative.They explained each step, and I felt comfortable throughout the procedure (I even tried to set the anesthesiologist up with one of my girlfriends, ha). And my recovery? Well, it was surgery after all.
Preparing for a C Section
Recovery is what I wish I had known more about while preparing for a C-section. I didn't know what to expect when it came to pain management or how long recovery would take. What did I know? I was terrified of opioids. I had heard horror stories and the only experience I'd ever had with pain medication was when I got sick after getting my wisdom teeth pulled MANY years earlier.
Here are the things I wish I had known about Preparing for a C-section:
There are other options for pain management besides opioids. At the time, there weren't as many as we have available now (this was almost seven years ago). I opted to take high doses of acetaminophen, but the pain for the first few days was pretty bad. When I was at BlogHer Health, I had the opportunity to learn about EXPAREL (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension), and let me tell you….I wish it had been an option for me. I learned that EXPAREL (see safety info HERE) is a local analgesia (pain blocker) that is injected into the specific area at the end of a surgery to numb it. It lasts for the first couple of days when pain is often at its worse. So for a C-section specifically, it would be injected to the local area (your abdomen) after the baby is born and would numb the area for about three days. That was the worst pain period for me, and I think this would have made an enormous difference. A big take away for me? Discuss pain management with your doctor BEFORE a C-section if you can. If you aren't SURE if you'll be having one, I'd suggest having a preliminary discussion just in case.
You will swell. After any surgery, the IV fluids and surgery itself will cause swelling. It's normal. I had no idea and thought something had gone SERIOUSLY awry on my first day home when I swelled up like crazy.
Set up help in advance. Honestly, this is my suggestion for postpartum support, whatever type of birth you have. Set up help from people you trust and feel comfortable around. You'll need it. And best case scenario? If you don't? You can always say so in the moment. But the worst thing is needing help and not having it available. I'd suggest a family member or close friend coming over for the first few days (in our situation, Robbie had to go back to work pretty quickly so this was very important). This includes food. Everyone needs to eat and you'll be in no state to prepare meals. Freezer meals. A meal train. Whatever seems easiest.
Walk, but be gentle with yourself. Walking helps with recovery. But know that in the beginning, it's amazingly hard. That was something else I learned at BlogHer – taking opioids to manage pain after surgery can impede or delay recovery. With non-opioid options, like EXPAREL, a new vision of recovery after surgery is possible (i.e., minimizing nausea, vomiting, dizziness/sleepiness, etc.) That being said, celebrate your recovery milestones. A walk to the corner will be a victory in the beginning. And that's NORMAL. A little at a time. It WILL get easier. Applaud your body for what it has done. And remember that it is MAJOR SURGERY RECOVERY. It takes time.
Have you had a C-section? What are your best tips for preparing for a C-section?
Important Safety Information: EXPAREL should not be used in obstetrical paracervical block anesthesia. In studies where EXPAREL was injected into the wound, the most common side effects were nausea, constipation, and vomiting. In studies where EXPAREL was injected near a nerve, the most common side effects were nausea, fever, and constipation. EXPAREL is not recommended to be used in patients younger than 18 years old or in pregnant women. Tell your health care provider if you have liver disease, since this may affect how the active ingredient (bupivacaine) in EXPAREL is eliminated from your body. EXPAREL should not be injected into the spine, joints, or veins. The active ingredient in EXPAREL: Can affect your nervous system and your cardiovascular system, May cause an allergic reaction, May cause damage if injected into your joints, Can cause a rare blood disorder.