What You Need to Know About Giving Birth by Cesarean Section
Whether your C-section is planned or unexpected, here’s what you need to know to have a smooth surgery and speedy recovery.
Ask for what you want
Knowing in advance what to request from hospital staff can help minimize the emotionally upsetting aspects of having a C-section. Many women worry that the surgery will require them to be separated from their newborns. Yet unless the baby or mother needs immediate medical treatment, most hospitals will accommodate parents’ expressed wishes for early bonding opportunities, says OB-GYN Bruce Flamm, M.D., a partner physician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Riverside, Calif.
For instance, a screen blocks off the sterile surgical area during a Cesarean. “A lot of times, if you ask, the doctor will either drop that screen a bit or hold the baby up over it so you can see him as soon as he comes out,” Flamm explains.
After the birth, ask if your partner can hold the baby while you are being stitched up, if the baby can accompany you to the recovery room and if you can breastfeed immediately.
Hopefully, if you do end up having a Cesarean, you’ll be able to look back on your surgery as part of the wonderful—albeit unpredictable—experience of giving birth. “After a C-section, a lot of women feel really let down,” says Sullivan, who admits to feeling disappointed after her first Cesarean. accept your feelings, she advises, but keep them in perspective: “There isn’t one perfect way to have a baby.”
Tips for a better recovery
If there is one piece of advice consistently given by women who’ve had a C-section, it’s this: Take all the pain medication your doctor recommends, and take it on schedule—don’t wait until you start hurting or the pain becomes unbearable.
If you’re free of pain, you’ll get more rest and exercise: Walking as soon as one day after your C-section can help prevent blood clots, speed bowel recovery and boost your comfort level.
Eating healing foods can also help. Lisa Kimmel, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., sports nutritionist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., recommends protein sources, such as lean meats, eggs, nuts, beans and legumes and low-fat dairy products, as well as specific nutrients, including zinc (found in seafood, meats and whole grains), vitamin C (citrus fruits, strawberries, red bell peppers) and vitamin A (carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes).