20 Things Moms Wish They Knew Before They Had a C-Section

Ashley Austrew | Sep 11, 2018 Pregnancy
20 Things Moms Wish They Knew Before They Had a C-Section
Image: mustafagull/iStock.com

c-section mom meeting new baby

C-sections are every bit as valid as vaginal births, yet there's a weird stigma surrounding the procedure. Moms who've had c-sections are often made to feel like they have to make excuses for why one was the best choice for them and they have to fight to have their birth experience considered "real." An unintended consequence of the societal conversation about c-sections is that women refrain from talking about them. They don't share stories and advice in the same way that they might if they'd had a vaginal delivery. And that's a major problem for moms who are preparing to go under the knife.

C-sections are major abdominal surgery. They have a recovery period, and there are many things about the process that moms might not know until they've been through it. So when parents avoid talking about c-sections, either because they don't feel comfortable sharing details or because society has somehow made them feel like there experience wasn't valid, other moms miss out on the chance to learn about the c-section process and what they can expect.

Unnecessary c-sections do happen. But that doesn't change the fact that c-sections are real birth. They are valid. They are beautiful. And the women who've had c-sections should be able to share their stories, photos, and memories, and have those things treated with respect. Here, c-section moms are speaking out about the things they wish they'd known before they gave birth. They cover everything from the freezing operating room to that first postpartum poop. Click through to see what they had to say about how they gave birth.

  • Post-Birth Bleeding Still Happens

    maxi pads
    Suphansa Subruayying/iStock.com

    "I wish I'd known how much I'd still bleed afterward. After seeing the giant vacuum o' gore [during the surgery] I figured my OB got out most of it for me. Oh, how wrong I was." -- Megan Z.

  • There Are Different Kinds of C-Sections

    c-section mom meeting new baby

    "C-sections aren't one size fits all. They can do gentle c-sections now, where they let the baby ease out on its own and you get to hold them right away. They can even use clear drapes at some hospitals so you can see the birth. A planned c-section doesn't have to mean missing out on certain parts of birth." -- Zooey L.

  • The Anesthesia Isn't Always Local

    woman having a c-section

    "I had an unplanned c-section, and I wish I'd known that the anesthesia could extend to my arms. I was holding my son in Recovery and was really upset that it was hard to breastfeed him because I didn't have complete control of my arms." -- Kate A.


    c-section birth

    "It's major f*ckin' surgery, OK? It hurts. Not during, but afterward. Take the pain meds they give you and do not feel shame about it." -- Anonymous

  • Get Up and Move

    woman sitting on hospital bed
    Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir/iStock

    "I was afraid to get up after my c-section because of all the stitches and sutures and I thought it would hurt. Nope! It's sore but get up and move. It really does help, even though it sounds crazy." -- Rachel P.

  • Take All the Mesh Panties

    c-section wound

    "Take home as many pairs of mesh underwear as humanly possible. They're the only thing that won't irritate the scar so do NOT be ashamed." -- Lindsay K.

  • It's OK to Shower

    shower head

    "I was afraid to shower because I thought my incision would get water in it or something, but then my doctor told me that was ridiculous. So my advice is take the shower. It feels so good to get clean." -- Stephanie L.

  • Scars Happen


    "Your body may not ever look the same. That's true of all birth, but especially with a c-section ... just give yourself time to heal. Eventually, the scar becomes a part of you and you get used to it." -- Heather M.

  • It's Not "Easy"

    mom with newborn

    "I remember laying there afterward -- my baby was taken to the NICU and my husband went with her -- exhausted. I said to my nurse, 'I am so tired, I didn't even do anything!' Even having a baby cut out of you is exhausting. More exhausting, I think, than a vaginal birth." -- Rebecca A.

  • Plan Ahead

    meal prep containers

    "If you know in advance that you're having a c-section, think about what you'll need after: food, a clean house, help. Try to meal prep or see if a friend can help set up a meal train for the first week or so when you really need to be letting your body heal." -- Brittany G.

  • Get a Post-Partum Belt


    "I got a post-partum support belt with my second kid and it helped so much! It made it easier to stand and move around and made me feel more supported while I healed. I think most hospitals give out belts now but if they don't, get one." -- Justine M.

  • Breastfeeding Might Be Delayed


    "It might take longer for your milk to come in. Mine took about four days after an unplanned C-section. It was really frustrating and I had to supplement [with formula], but luckily I was still able to breastfeed." -- Tracey P.

  • It Feels Strange

    doctor performing c-section

    "Even though you are numb, you can still feel pressure and pulling and pushing. It feels ... strange, to say the least. It's not agonizing or anything, but it can be unpleasant if you're not expecting it. I was freaked out." -- Cheryl W.

  • It's OK to Be Scared

    tired woman

    "Nervousness is normal! People treat c-sections like they're a walk in the park but that's not reality. It's still surgery and it's OK to feel scared and to ask as many questions as you need to." -- Lauren H.

  • The OR Is Freezing

    freezing cold woman wearing jacket

    "I had no idea it was going to be so cold in the operating room. It is FREEZING. Definitely wear warm socks!" -- Caroline P.

    [Note: Some hospitals don't allow socks. Others provide special compression socks to prevent blood clots. Check with a doctor to see what is allowed.]

  • Ask for Prune Juice

    prune juice

    "They'll give you a stool softener to help things along post-surgery, but ask for some prune juice too. It really helps. The trauma to your abdominal muscles makes that first poop very important. last thing you want is to be constipated." -- Lindsay W.

  • Nausea Is Normal

    sleeping mom with newborn

    "I had an emergency c-section after 23 hours of labor. I threw up four times -- twice during the c-section and twice afterwards. I thought something was wrong with me but my doc assured me it was normal. The drugs can cause nausea big time, so be prepared to not feel well for a little while." -- Anonymous

  • Bonding Still happens

    mom holding newborn's hand

    "A lot of people told me I wouldn't be able to bond with my baby if I had a c-section. Frankly, that was a crappy thing to say and totally not true. I still bonded with my son from the second I saw him." -- Olivia B.

  • Don't Lift Anything

    woman doing laundry

    "When the doctor says not to lift anything post-birth, they mean it. I tried to be up and moving and doing chores and I was in so much pain. I think it took my incision longer to heal, too." -- Sarah P.

  • It's Going to Be OK

    woman holding newborn baby

    "I was so afraid to have a c-section because I heard so many horror stories. But everything went fine. I loved my birth experience. Don't let other people control your birth story." -- Laura S.

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