I gave birth via a planned c-section because my son was breech. So, keep that in mind when you read this blog. Some of the information comes from my personal experience, some of it from research and what friends told me about their experiences.
1.) You Will Bleed… A LOT
No matter whether you gave birth vaginally or via c-section, you will bleed out your vagina. It’s basically like an extremely, extremely heavy period. You’ll have some cramping. That’s because your uterus is shrinking back to its original size. If the cramping is severe or you notice blood clots the size of a golf ball or lemon, CALL THE DOCTOR! You will notice some small clots, but they should not be that big.
The bleeding can last anywhere from 2 weeks to almost a month. I bled for a month straight. Sometimes the flow would ease up and I thought it was almost over, only for it to start up heavy again. My ob-gyn assured me this is completely normal. My advice: keep heavy duty pads in your underwear for a week after the bleeding stops, just in case it starts again! They will give you pads while in the hospital, but you will need to buy more for when you are at home. Do not use tampons!
2.) Your incision will hurt
The first time the nurses have you walk around your hospital room, it will be the most excruciating pain you have ever felt in your life. I recommend taking your pain relievers and make sure they kick in before attempting walking. Your incision will hurt for about two weeks after the surgery, but not as bad as that first day walking. By the time I left the hospital I could walk with minimal pain. But any amount of exertion made the incision hurt. Remember, for several weeks (about 6 or until you see your ob/gyn) you should not lift anything heavier than your baby! But don’t worry, your incision will yell at you in all its painful glory if you do. Just nature’s way of making sure you follow doctor’s orders.
3.) The area around your incision may stay numb forever
I’m currently 4 months post surgery at the time of writing, and the skin about 2 inches below and above my incision line is numb, like when you sleep on your hand and your can only feel a slight brushing sensation when you touch it, but not much else. The women I have talked to who are 20+ years post c-section say their incisions areas are still numb. Sometimes you will feel a pulling sensation in that area, even after it heels and the steri strips come off. Also, my incision area itched… ON THE INSIDE. There was no way to scratch it since the stitches were on the inside itching me, so I just had to massage the area.
4.) Your perineum may or may not hurt
If you had an emergency c-section after pushing and attempting a vaginal delivery, your perineum may hurt. Women I know who have had vaginal deliveries suggest massaging the perineum and applying cold packs to the area.
If you had a plan c-section (meaning you never were pushing) your perineum will most likely not hurt.
5.) Your breasts will swell, hurt, and leak
Even if you don’t plan to breast feed, your milk will come in a day or two after delivery. You will notice, trust me. I first noticed when I went to take my first shower. As I was carefully taking off my robe I realized my breasts were extremely heavy. I looked in the mirror and was amazed. It looked like I gained two cup sizes (and I’m normally a size DD)! They were so heavy and painful that I had to hold my upper arms out and away from my body, and I couldn’t sleep on my side. If you don’t breast feed or try but end up stopping, your breasts will go down over about 3 weeks from the time you stop breast feeding.
Your breasts will also leak, regardless of whether you breast feed. You will need nursing pads. I used Lansinoh’s Disposable Nursing Pads. I did not breast feed, so the leaking stopped after about 4 weeks. Let’s put it this way, if you don’t breast feed and change your pads twice a day, you will only need one 60 count box of nursing pads.
Also, invest in a bra (or 2 or 3) a size or two larger than your 9-months-pregnant size. Since your breasts will be so hard and hurting, you will want the support. Plus, you will need a bra to hold the pads in place.
6.) You will feel like you are starving and dying of thirst
They will not let you drink for several hours before and after delivery, and they will not let you eat the first 24 hours after delivery. Just a warning. You may want someone to sneak you snacks!
7.) You will have nightmares
Most likely involving your child or other protective-type dreams.
8.) You will feel inept and doubt your abilities to be a good mother
Your hormones will be all over the place, hence the nightmares. They will make you feel like you aren’t yourself anymore. You may have panic attacks. You may have fleeting moments where you think maybe you should just give your baby away. You’ll feel like nothing you do is right. Basically, you will feel like a mess. But trust me. It’s just those damn hormones talking. You will get better. Honestly. It will take about 3-4 full weeks before you start emotionally feeling like your former, non-mommy self but that day WILL come.
9.) You will be exhausted
Babies are tough work. That’s why…. (number 10)
10.) You will need help
The phrase “it takes a village” will make much more sense after you’ve had a child. In some cultures, the women collectively help raise each other’s children, like one big giant daycare. You are not a failure if you ask for help, and there will be a point when you need it. After a c-section, your abdomen is going to hurt in ways you never thought possible. There will be times when you cannot even stand, let alone hold and carry your child. Make sure there is someone reliable with you for the first several days (if not week) after you deliver. When the day finally comes for you to do it on your own, make sure someone is on stand-by so that they can be there to help at a moments notice. Trust me. There will come a time when you will need to make that phone call. And that is perfectly OKAY.
11.) You will sweat a lot during the night
For the first few weeks after giving birth I sweated so bad during the night that the shirt felt like I took it straight out of the washer. I had to sleep naked without a blanket in the dead of winter to stay cool.