(Photo credit: John Kelly, ThinkStock)
Most antenatal classes focus nearly entirely on labour and vaginal birth. When it became clear that I would have a scheduled caesarean, I armed myself with knowledge by asking a few friends to tell me about their c-sections. Even so, a few surprises awaited me.
1. There are at least 7 medical professionals in the theatre: 2 obstetricians and their assistant, an anaesthetist plus assistant, the paediatrician, nurses and further assistants. At least they're all looking at your tummy.
2. The staff all happily chat about last weekend, this weekend or how hard medical aids are making their lives.
3. After the spinal was administered, I thought I could swing my legs onto the bed so I could lie down – only, my legs were numb, obviously, so the nurses had to pick them up and lie me down.
4. I hadn't given catheters much thought so was surprised when the nurse mentioned one.
5. While lying on the bed, I looked up and saw a few blood squirts on the big theatre light. I decided to not get freaked out and file it away for laughing at later.
6. They had to use forceps to remove my baby, something I didn't know could be possible.
7. My husband was asked if he wanted to cut the cord, which I thought was touching.
8. I expected my baby to lie on my chest, skin to skin, while they were stitching me up, but the screen divider was in the way; my husband held her close to me so I could talk to her and stroke her little cheeks.
9. Some feeling started to return while I was being stitched up, which is not normal but my muscles were a bit thicker and harder to stitch up.
10. It all went really fast: a caesarean is usually over within 20 minutes.
11. My husband didn't pass out. In fact, he squeezed my hand and looked me in the eye and said everything was going well and I'd be okay.
12. In recovery, outside the theatre, my baby was finally lying skin-to-skin on top of me and started to root for milk. With very little outside help she made her way to the breast and started to suckle. It was incredible.
13. The anaesthesia made me a tad nauseated for a few hours after the op but the nurses expected this and were on standby to help.
14. I also started to shake a bit, since I have low blood pressure. Again, it passed quickly.
15. The following few days I was feeling more than a bit bloated and gassy. My advice: don't drink peppermint tea (as so many have advised me to), as this can diminish breast milk production.
16. I was able to walk around the next day. I was told to slow down so I wouldn't pass out in the corridors, but I was also encouraged to move and walk to speed up healing.
17. At home I was up and about fairly soon and kind of forgot that I wasn't meant to carry shopping bags and place the stroller in the boot and drive. But some evenings the pain did return and I would be scared that I'd ruptured or torn apart the stitches. Which didn't happen, but it could have.
18. The C-section scar is a lot smaller and lower down than I expected.
Did you find anything surprising at your caesarean?