What to Expect… During a Planned C-Section Delivery

by , under Giving Birth

You may be wondering what having a c-section is all about.  Below I share with you my experience having a planned c-section (my baby was breech).  Please don’t let it scare you.  My experience was pretty awful.  Yours will most likely go better, and I hope for your sake that it does.  But below is the honest truth of what can happen.  Don’t let those doctors and nurses lie to you.

Here it goes…

1.) Register for your stay

I arrived at the hospital at 4:30 a.m. for my scheduled c-section.  I entered through the ER and stopped at the registration desk.  My ob/gyn is part of the hospital’s network, so I was pre-registered and just had to let them know I was there.  Ask your ob/gyn about how your hospital handles registration.

2.) Go to the delivery room

I walked up the maternity ward and they showed me to the delivery room.  This is where a woman who is having a vaginal birth will deliver the baby.  For a planned c-section, this is where they hook you up to all kinds of machines and prepare you for surgery.  Then you come back to this room until your recovery room (where you will be the duration of your stay) is ready.

3.) Get Hooked Up

Once you are in the delivery room, the nurse will give you a hospital gown and a bag for your belongings.  Remove ALL of you clothes, including underwear, jewelry (including wedding rings), make-up, hair ties, etc. Put them in the bag.

Then you will lay down on your hospital bed.  There is a thick pad (like you put in your underwear during your period) on the bed to absorb blood and all the other gross stuff that will come out of you.

Being Shaved

The nurse will shave your pubic region, a swath about two inches below the normal top of the hair growth, if you don’t normally shave.  This is incredibly awkward to have done, even if you aren’t self-conscious.  Just be casual and not afraid to laugh at yourself.  I just asked my nurse what were some grosser things she’s had to do as a nurse.  Shaving pubic hair was definitely not on the list!

The Fetal Monitors

If you had a non-stress test, you probably are familiar with the fetal monitors.  They are nothing to worry about.  It’s basically a velcro belt wrapped around your stomach with a plastic sensor (looks like a hockey puck) that reads baby’s heartbeat.  You will also have a pulse monitor put on your finger to take your pulse.

The IV

They will insert and IV into your arm.  Mine squirted blood when they did it.  I had my eyes closed since the sight of blood makes me faint!  I recommend you do the same.  The IV stings only for a few minutes.  You will eventually forget it is even there (I promise!) if it is inserted correctly.  Then they will start pumping liquids into you.  I’m pretty sure I was given medicine to induce contractions and saline.  The saline is to keep you hydrated because they will not let you have a drink for a very long time after the delivery.  You will be thirsty, unfortunately!

The Catheter

They will insert a catheter into your urethra.  It kind of feels like a burning sensation, like when you have a yeast or urinary tract infection, but doesn’t hurt.  The burning lasts a few minutes, but it will subside and you will forget the catheter is even there.  I forgot it was there until they removed it the next day!  That’s when I remembered I never got up to pee that day!

You will lay in that bed for about an hour, depending on how long it takes to get the operating room ready for you.  I was there for several hours because an emergency c-section was being performed (and I had arrived at 4:30 am).  While you are laying there, the anesthesiologist and nurses will come in to discuss the procedure.  Basically, they will tell you some half-truths and some outright lies just to keep you from getting nervous.  But I will tell you the truth (at least from my experience) if you keep reading.

4.) Go to the operating room (if you are having a c-section)

Before you go to the operating room, they will ask if you feel nauseous.  You probably will.  They will offer you a liquid antacid.  Everyone says it tastes terrible, but I didn’t think so.  In fact, it was so not bad that I don’t even remember what it tasted like.  Gulp that puppy down!  But beware.  You may still throw up during the operation!  I did, several times!

You will then be taken to the operating room.  I don’t know what your hospital’s procedures are, but I had to walk there.  Now, picture this.  I had a catheter inserted in my hoo-ha and an IV in my arm that was hooked up to the IV drip.  AND THEY MADE ME WALK.  It took two nurses to carry all that crap, and another to hold my arm for support because I was so nervous I was shaking.  You may be nervous too.  That’s OKAY.  It’s not every day you get your stomach cut open while you’re awake.  Just remember, you are awesome for doing this!

5.) Get hooked up some more!

Once in the operating room, you will sit on the edge of the table and lean against a nurse.  You will be given oxygen, and then an anesthesiologist will insert the epidural (also known as a spinal block) in your back.  THIS HURTS!  Don’t let anyone lie to you.  It took over 20 minutes for the anesthesiologist to finally get the right sized needle and insert it.  Every time he pricked, IT HURT.  I had five bloody little holes in my back by the time he was done.  He couldn’t get any in and blamed my posture for the problem.  You are supposed to bend your stomach in and curve your spine out for it to be inserted.  Well, with my huge pregnant stomach I could only bend so far. Hopefully, you will have a better anesthesiologist than mine.

When the anesthesiologist finally does get that sucker in, a sudden, intense, disabling pain will shoot through your body.  To me it felt like boiling water was being sprayed all over me. Don’t let them lie to you.  That sucker HURTS!  But the numbing will come almost instantaneously and you will not feel a thing.

Everyone will then rush into action.

They will lay you back on the bed, tie down your arms so you look like a T (or like you’re being crucified).  A sheet will be put up so you can’t see your stomach.

6.) The surgery (yes they call it that) begins

As the doctor makes the first cuts, the nurse will bring in your significant other or whoever will be with you during the c-section.  You won’t feel a thing.  In fact, the drugs they gave me for the anxiety made me feel drunk.  I was slurring all over the place.  And puking too!  Don’t be afraid to ask for a puke bowl!  It happens all the time.

When baby is pulled out, you will feel a strange pushing pain sensation.  My fiancé says I screamed when it happened, but I was so loopy I don’t remember screaming.  I just remember it was an intense sensation.

7.) Your baby is born!

When you hear those first cries and (if you choose to) see your child as he/she is being pulled out, a sudden rush of emotion will overcome you.  I cried instantly, and so did my fiancé.  There he was!  Our perfect baby boy!  7 pounds, 6 ounces and 18.5 inches long.  Apgar score 9/10.

8.) Closing it all up

Your significant other will be escorted out of the room as you are being stitched up.  The placenta is removed through the incision before they stitch you up.  This takes about 10 minutes.  Then they will unstrap your arms and lift you on to your hospital bed that you were laying on in the delivery room. Don’t worry, they bring it to you.  You will not be able to walk.

You will then be wheeled on your bed back to the delivery room where you will wait until a recovery room is available.

9.) Back in the delivery room

Now you will finally get to meet your baby!  My fiancé was already in there holding our son when I was wheeled in.  Unfortunately, my epidural was screwed up so badly my entire body was paralyzed and I couldn’t hold my son for several hours.  But I kissed him!

Baby’s Bath

Baby will then have his first sponge bath.  The nurse will do this.  Baby will not like it.  🙁 Poor baby.

Your Bath

You will also be given a sponge bath.  This was a strange experience for me.  I couldn’t feel anything, so when the nurse picked up my leg and moved it and all I saw was my leg moving in the air but couldn’t feel it, I felt like I was dreaming.  Just wait.  You’ll see what I mean.  It’s a strange feeling.

According to my fiancé, the bed was full of so much blood it looked like someone had been murdered and painted my butt and legs with the blood.  The nurse will clean this all up for you.  Then she will put a giant maxi pad on you, check the incision (it’s covered completely with little vertical strips of sterile tape that look like piano keys), and push on your stomach to check where the fundus (top part) of the uterus is to see if it is shrinking properly.

The Umbilical Cord

Baby’s cord will be injected with an antibiotic dye and clipped.  The cord is actually white.  It’s the dye that gives the stump its classic black look.  This dye will get all over you in the next step…

Skin Time

Baby will be placed on your chest to bond.  I needed help holding him since my arms were numb.  But it was an awesome experience.  Baby might not want to breast feed right away, but you can get close this way.

10.) Finally… the recovery room

After waiting forever for your recovery room to be ready, you will be wheeled there.

PLEASE BEWARE! If you enter the room and the television is on, ask the nurse to turn it off and make sure you aren’t billed.  We were billed $16 because the television was on when we got in the room.  I got out of the bill, but that’s just my warning to you.

During your stay in the recovery room you will get NO sleep.  The nurses will come in every 2-3 hours (during the night too) to get your vitals, pediatricians will check your baby, nurses will come in almost every hour to do SOMETHING, you’ll have visitors, you’ll be in pain, and YOU will have to take care of baby.  That’s right.  YOU and your partner will be feeding and changing baby.  Not the nurses.  And you will not ever get good sleep for a very long time.   Sorry.  That’s just the truth.

I hope this post hasn’t scared you.  My best wishes to you and your precious child!

P.S. Share your delivery experience in the comments below!  I can’t wait to read them!