Thoughts on Unplanned Cesareans for over 35 moms

So to follow up on the previous post, if you are an over 35 mother to be, (or *want to be*) READ UP and ASK about Cesareans.  Be sure you talk to *recent* Cesarean moms – the technology has changed so much and so fast that even those over 5 years old are really mis-information. It will help you feel more prepared and comfortable if you turn out to need one – I promise.

Things I did not know about Cesareans:

  • Anesthesia can make you throw up. Even when you have nothing to throw up. I threw up *every time* I got anesthesia (and yes I had an epidural for the labor – but that’s another saga).  BE LOUD and EARLY in saying *I am going to throw up.*  Don’t say I *think I might* – be definite. They will get you a little tray and it is better safe than sorry.
  • Anesthesia for Cesareans can give you the shakes – like you have hypothermia. They covered my upper body with cloths and then had to add more as I was just totally unnerved and unhappy. 2nd layer did help, although they did not stop util after I was back in my room “recovering.”
  • Assuming you have no odd Anesthesia needs, you WILL be numb from the rib cage down and will feel *mostly* nothing.  Eventually, you will feel a MAJOR tugging (like your entire insides are being rearranged – which they are), but with no pain, just an odd “emptying” feeling.
  • The baby crying and appearing in your sight will distract you from what they are doing with the afterbirth.  They actually take your entire vagina out of your body and look it over in this process, then stick it back in.  Didn’t you want to know that?
  • The whole thing will take like 30 minutes from entry into the operating theatre to being wheeled back out to your room.  The anesthetic will wear off within the next 30 minutes.
  • They will come to your recovery room and TORTURE you at least 3 times in the 6-12 hours after you give birth.  They come and push hard on your uterus in order to be sure that no clots or clumps of tissue still remain.  This hurts… A LOT a lot! (it will hurt less the 3rd time). Be sure you use a different support person for each time  as it really does them in – they hate to see you in that much pain. it will also gain you LOTS of sympathy (remember, I had an epidural for most of the labor.)
  • The Cesarean incision is right at the top of your public hair line, maybe 8-10 inches wide and VERY tidy. It will be painful for a week or so – but way less than you think. The skin area 3-4 inches immediately above will be numb and stay numb for months.  The *muscles* above this area will ache/hurt like a MOTHERF***** for at least 2-4 weeks. Drugs are your friends.
  • The sterile barriers they use for surgery are sticky – so they don’t move. MANY folks are allergic to the glue.  So you are likely to have a HUGE sore, itchy red rash all around the incision area – on top of incredibly sore muscles and the painful incision line.
  • They say you may need several days in the hospital after a Cesarean.  Nope – I was opened up on noon Tuesday and out of there by 4pm Thursday.  They wait until you can walk to the bathroom on your own and then offer you the chance to go home.  I took it – I simply couldn’t get any sleep in the hospital (everyone kept interrupting!)

Tips for 35+ mommies (in case of Cesarean):

  • Choose someone for your birthing coach/support person who you think can stomach/cope with you having a Cesarean. I had a nurse friend as my coach because both dads said firmly – “no thanks!” to the surgery part.  She was wonderful – and was first to hold the baby (she said it was the coolest thing ever).
  • If you have an epidural, the anesthesia for Cesareans can go right in the same tube – makes things very easy, very fast.
  • You WILL like the one size fits most (really!) net-like underwear they give you.  Ask for more to take home – it makes things easier in the bathroom at home. (VERY embarassing to have to ask someone else to pull up your underwear for you)
  • PLAN to have a person other than your partner “on call” at least half of every day for the 2 weeks to a month.  YOU should not be trying to get out of bed with child in your arms, or lifting child out of crib/bassinet for at least 2 weeks.  You CAN – but you shouldn’t. If you don’t need them, it is easy to tell them to take the night/day off. MUCH harder to find someone to support you at the ‘last minute.’  This does not have to be just one person. It can be a series of 4-6 folks – that way no one gets burnt out on supporting you.
  • They will prescribe a stool softener – so you don’t strain, and because the anesthesia and other drugs you are prescribed tend to dry you up. This means you will be on at least 3 pills:
    • Your pain meds – likely every 4 hours
    • Your Anti-itch med (Benedryl ) – likely every 6 hours
    • Your stool softener – likely twice a day.
    • If breastfeeding, add prenatal vitamin – once a day.
  • This means you have to be awake roughly every 2 hours in order to take your meds.  Your drug regimen will NOT coincide with when you have to eat, go to the bathroom, or when the baby needs to eat/be changed.  You will NEVER sleep, and once you are home, you will lose track of what pill to take when. Try to get your support persons to help you keep track and wake up to take them. It sucks when your pain meds wear off.
  • Stock up on things you can eat quickly with one hand, reclining, that are high in protein/good calories and easy on your stomach. You will not want to spend a lot of time sitting upright at all, and you will want to save every moment possible for sleeping.
  • Drink LOTS of water (LOTS) – especially if you are breastfeeding. The Benedryl and pain meds are drying and you want to keep that baby food flowing. This will mean you have to pee often – yet another opportunity NOT to sleep…
  • Have lots of extra pillows, in various sizes and density on hand – you won’t need them all, but it will take a few days to determine what arrangement works best to support you while you sleep. You will NOT want to move much while sleeping for th first week or so. I recommend sleeping alone for at least the first week home.  Every shift in the bed was painful, and I shifted *often* to ease discomfort.
  • CALL EARLY to ask for more pain meds. You will get something less strong, and it may take a day or two. Don’t wait until you are out to call. It SUCKS when your pain meds wear off.
  • Lastly – don’t have that bulging disk in your back go “out” in week #3 of recovery. It was NOT fun.

Lastly, I found NO bonding issues with my child due to Cesarean. I wanted to hold her just as soon as I saw her, but got to do so within the hour. I got to see her close up within 15 minutes. I had her in the room with me for almost all the time we were in the hospital (I can’t imagine having her in a nursery most of the time – I would have been frantic!)  And lots of that time she was snuggled in bed with me.  We’ve bonded JUST FINE.

PLEASE don’t worry about having a Cesarean.  If it happens, it happens, and you and baby will be FINE. There are silver linings – way less vaginal trauma for you, and no vaginal squishing for baby. In the balance, I think it is equivalent to vaginal birth in pros and cons for delivery and recovery – just different.