A Cesarean Section Is Major Surgery

More than just a means of bringing your baby into the world, a cesarean section is major surgery. How will you feel after giving birth by c-section? Childbirth educator and author Linda B Jenkins has some answers.
Linda Jenkins, RN

Your question
Due to a medical condition, I know I will be having a Cesarean section. How will I feel afterwards? - Kathleen, Ontario

The expert answers
Often with so much focus on a shared, awake experience prior to delivery, a woman recovering from a surgical birth may be disappointed. This may be due in part to unfulfilled expectations, but may also be part of a postpartum depression syndrome. In this case, the woman may be blaming the type of delivery for a very common, poorly-understood phenomenon. One of the best ways to decrease this postpartum depression is by getting adequate rest.

There may also be physical discomforts, as with any abdominal surgery, such as:
  1. Gas: Walk it out and watch your diet. The first day after birth you may start out with clear liquids, progressing during the next couple of days to a regular diet. For the first few regular diet days, continue to avoid gas-producing foods, such as beans, cabbage and onions.
  2. Soreness and inability to bound out of bed: This will improve with time and rest, but take advantage of the side rail on those hospital beds. Roll over on your side and pull up on them, rather than expecting to immediately sit straight up.
Another common feeling, especially with women who were not awake when the baby was born, has been described as the "missing link" syndrome: you go to surgery pregnant, wake up without any time seeming to have passed, and find you are now empty of that new life. You may feel a sense of loss and guilt over not feeling very maternal -- it is even common for women not to ask about the infant. This, too, will pass with time. It may be helpful to know you are not the only one who has experienced this, and to discuss the details of the birth with your healthcare provider and support person. Often, pictures taken during the birth can be of help in filling in some of the missing details, to make the experience more beliveable to you.

Extreme shaking after delivery (either vaginal or surgical) is not fully understood, but is very common. Emotions may be one contributor, but so, too, might be hormonal changes, blood loss and/or exhaustion. Holding the shaking extremeties, deep cleansing breaths and warm blankets may help. Another cause of the shakes may be the common concern of many new mothers: the well-being of the infant. If that is the case, nothing will reassure you like touching and/or seeing your newborn child.PregnancyAndBaby.com

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