The thought of going into a theater having masked doctors all around you, hearing sounds of medical equipment ready to be placed on you can make you very nervous. This thought comes to you when your only option is a C-section, then you’ll wish you had another option. But C-section needn’t be that scary especially when you know what to expect.
Having a basic understanding of the procedure before, during and after the process is very important and would help reduce undue stress and anxiety. Here is a step by step guide on how to prepare for your cesarean procedure.
Preparing for your hospital stay
Your stay at the hospital will not be like those that had a vaginal delivery (who are discharged few hours after delivery or a day after). You will have a longer stay of 3-5 days or even a week depending on the hospital policy on cesarean delivery care and also on your own wellbeing. Pack a bag with comfortable tops or shirts (not tightly fitted),tops with zip or button in front for easy breastfeeding, short sleeves, wrappers are a must (here in Nigeria we do a lot with Ankara fabrics) while on bed you don’t need so much clothing so wrapper and a top will do, nightie (has to be very loose gown), also loose gowns with button or zip in front that you can wear as you stay longer, some hospitals prefer you wear their hospital gown till you are discharged. Don’t forget a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, cream, towel, makeup (if you don’t use it while in the hospital you’ll use it when leaving the hospital), hot water flask, disinfectant. If you are a Christian go with your bible you’ll need to read it in order to help your mind stay positive if not go with any book that would set your mind in a positive mode.
You need to pack for baby as well, pack overalls, bodysuits, caps, socks, soap, towels, flannels, blankets. Breastfeeding is still the best recommended for your baby but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take formula along incase lactation doesn’t start immediately.
Preparing for surgery
Most hospitals would require lab test which includes blood and urine test done a day before your surgery, though hospital policies may vary. You’ll also be told to refrain from food 12 hours or more before your surgery. Your pubic hairs will be shaved by the nurses. Consent forms signed.
When the time comes, you are going to be given a hospital gown to wear, if you haven’t been given already. A nurse will take you to the theater, your spouse may not be allowed to go in with you but it all depends on hospital policy. In the theater you will sit on the operating table and anesthetic given via your spine, you then lie on the table and a catheter inserted to drain urine during surgery, it will be left after surgery until you are comfortable enough to attend to your bathroom needs, your arms abducted with IV lines in situ. A curtain will be setup just above your chest to separate you from your team of doctors, so they can be more focused and be private about their affairs. You’ll be awake during the surgery but you won’t feel pain only pressure and pull. You’ll probably be discussing with your doctors and nurses while the procedure is going on. You’ll also be advised not to tilt or turn head to both sides indiscriminately during and immediately after surgery to prevent spinal headaches (it could really be bad).
When your baby is born, your baby will be shown to you immediately so that you can also confirm the sex and probably see how he/she looks like before the nurse takes the baby away for cleanup, suction, weighed, wrapped to ensure the baby is in good condition. Immediately baby is born while he is still being attended to, the closing of your incision continues and in a short while you’ll be moved to the recovery room after which you’ll be taken to your normal ward (private or public) to be with the baby.
The hospital ward
After surgery you’ll be taken to the recovery room, you’ll be kept for some minutes, hours or days there depending on the hospital policy (I stayed 30min or less in my hospital) after which you’ll be taken to the general hospital ward either private or public ward pending on the one you can afford. You’ll be advised to talk less, turn your head less and not to turn to your sides for some hours. Your anesthesia will begin to wear off in a while, you may start feeling pains at your incision site, painkillers are also prescribed alongside other medication given, so feel free to ask your nurse for painkillers whenever you feel pain.
You’ll be allowed to hold your baby immediately when in the hospital ward, nursing starts immediately, it’s usually advised to put your baby to breast even if lactation has not started for you, it may be uncomfortable for you because you may be doing that in supine lying, but after a few hours you can then sit and come out of bed to breastfeed comfortably. If lactation delays for a while talk to your nurse or doctor about introducing formula to the baby so it won’t starve. If baby starts with formula and you still want to breastfeed exclusively, just stop formula immediately lactation starts.
If you are recovering very well (no excessive blood loss, adequate urine volume etc.) by second day post-op your catheter and IV lines will be removed (after you must have completed your IV antibiotics) orals starts immediately. You will now be taken out of bed so you can move around in order to aid circulation and decrease blot clots. You may feel pain at the incision when you walk but don’t be discouraged moving around will help to heal. You’ll also be asked to start taking fluids- water, tea, pap then light solids will follow. Go slowly with your food don’t be in a hurry but eat well so as to have energy. You can also start having your bath but make sure to protect the incision site.
From the 3rd to 5th day post-op you may be discharged depending on the hospital policy like I mentioned earlier. The incision site will be examined and plaster removed, if it’s clean with no discharge then you’ll be discharged to go home and continue care. If the incision site is not healing properly, you will continue your stay at the hospital until you heal very well.
It’s common for most post-partum C-Section moms to be depressed (Post -Partum depression) or have a feeling of guilt about the whole process. Some women may feel like a failure for not giving birth to their baby through the natural way. But don’t worry, the feeling is for a short while you’ll come over it and then be grateful for your baby.
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