C-Sections are a miracle of modern medicine. They’re also scary, challenging, and often not what we planned for our birth experience. These are the 5 things moms need to know about what happens AFTER a c-section.
This was the response I got when I checked in on a friend of mine who recently delivered her baby via C-section.
When I spoke with her at her baby shower a couple months prior, she was excited and optimistic. She told me that she had prepared herself for that outcome just in case, so that she would be ready for whatever the big day might bring.
However, when I checked in with my friend after I saw her birth announcement, I got the feeling that it was not at all what she expected.
When an emergency cesarean birth is ordered, things happen quickly. The experience and recovery can be overwhelming, especially when we weren’t expecting things to happen this way in the first place.
Having endured a traumatic labor that ended in an unplanned C-section, I understand firsthand the emotions that come with the experience. I was VERY unprepared for the possibility that I would have anything but a natural birth – I just didn’t think it would happen to me.
But as I learned, so much of the birthing process is out of our control.
It seems that there is an explosion in the number of cesarean births over the past couple decades. Every single friend, every mere acquaintance of mine that has had a baby in the past two years has done it by C-section – except one. That is staggering statistic.
Even though you’ve got plenty of company, it doesn’t change the fact that a C-section is likely not what you had in mind for your birth plan. Surgery is a scary, often last-minute decision, and brings with it a long, painful recovery – both physical and emotional.
5 Things All C-Section Mamas Need to Hear
A C-section was not what I wanted. But a year later, I’m here to tell you, my fellow C-section mamas, that it is ok. I am ok.
You will be ok.
And all of these things that seem so hard right now, and that feeling of being “different,” well, they won’t last forever.
1. Your scar will fade.
It seems impossible in those first few days, weeks, and even months after surgery. The angry red gash across my lower abdomen terrified me – I couldn’t even look at it for the longest time. I was convinced that I was permanently disfigured.
But then one day I glanced down and realized it was barely visible anymore, it was just a thin, light line – a tiny souvenir of everything I had been through.
Related: 5 Things to Know About Your C-Section Scar
2. The pain will go away.
You’ll be too doped up in the hospital to feel much of anything, but they don’t want you on serious pain meds for long, so in a few days you’ll be weaning down to simple ibuprofen. It will hurt to sit up, it will hurt to laugh, it will hurt to sneeze – it will hurt to do just about anything!
But like your scar, the pain will fade. You might still get twinges near your incision in the months to come (nerves reattaching), but they will subside and without the pain as a reminder, you’ll find that you hardly even think about how your baby got here.
3. You Won’t Rip Your Incision Open.
When my nurse ordered me (nicely, of course) to get up and walk the day after surgery, I panicked.
Wasn’t my stomach cut wide open less than 24 hours ago?! Surely it would rip right apart if I tried to stand up, let alone stumble down the hallway.
But it didn’t. And I was (like you will be) so overly cautious that there was nothing to worry about.
4. Your Muscles Will Re-Learn What to Do.
The first time I attempted to exercise, I was discouraged to find that my muscles wouldn’t do what my brain was telling them.
I couldn’t jump.
I couldn’t lift my knees.
I couldn’t even begin to do a crunch.
But I kept trying.
And slowly, my body “remembered” how to do these once-simple tasks. A year later I can do everything that I was able to before surgery, even if it did take loads of practice and patience.
Related: Read about how I lost the baby weight while breastfeeding and my 5 essential weight loss tips for breastfeeding moms.
5. You’ll Stop Worrying About How Your Baby Arrived.
This might have been the hardest one for me. My labor couldn’t have been farther from what I had imagined and hoped for, and that was a crushing blow. I felt cheated, I felt like a failure.
Every time I saw new baby photos in my Facebook newsfeed, I just had to click through and scour the comments for clues as to how that baby got here. Did this mama actually have a “regular” birth? Or was she like “the rest of us?”
And then one day it just didn’t seem to matter anymore. I’m not sure why or how I suddenly got over it, but I did. I have more pressing things to worry about now, like when will I ever get a full night’s sleep again?!
Read the game-changing toddler sleep tip that finally let us all sleep through the night.
So mamas, wherever you are at in your recovery, hang in there!
Time heals – it really does. But don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling sad, or scared, or tired, or anything less than perfect – we’ve all been there!
We get through it, and you will too.
The reward is worth every stitch, every struggle, and every stretch mark! And aren’t these things that all mothers can pretty much relate to anyways?
In the end, we’re not really as different as we think.
Note: I originally wrote this post in 2015, after the birth of my first daughter. In honor of C-Section Awareness Month (and after another emergency cesarean birth) I’m updating it for all my fellow c-section mamas. You are warriors!
You might also like:
Don’t Call my C-Section a “Belly Birth”
Why You Should Plan for a C-Section
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Melissa D says
This is a beautiful post! Our older daughter was born unexpectedly (by c-section) at 26 weeks, so recovery from surgery was the last thing on my mind…I just wanted to get to the children’s hospital to be by her side. Our repeat c-section with our younger daughter (at 37 weeks) certainly brought up these kinds of feelings, though! It’s amazing how it all fades once our precious kiddos are here; every birth story is different and special in its own way.
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
I can’t even imagine what that experience was like to deliver so early. My own birth wasn’t deemed an “emergency” by the doctors when I arrived at the hospital (I started with a midwife in a birthing center), but I knew in my heart that I couldn’t get my baby out. As disappointed as I was in that outcome, I couldn’t be more thankful (as I’m sure you are as well) that we DO have modern medicine which allows us an alternate, life-saving delivery option. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing some of your story!
I went through this…twice! After the first time, I did feel let down, like I’d cheated or something. I thought I’d be able to deliver normally the second time, and I really tried hard-but after going through labor all night, with an ineffective epidural, it turns out I CAN’T deliver normally. My pelvis is not round, it’s oval (platypelloid) and unless the baby is very small they just won’t fit. (kind of wish they’d figured this out a few years ago!)
Thank heaven I didn’t attempt a home birth, and thank heaven for modern medicine, or I probably would have died trying to give birth to my older child.
A year after the second surgery, my scar is pretty visible…but I don’t care. I see it as a reminder of how very much I wanted these little people in my life.
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
Pam, thank you so much for sharing your story! While it is not what we had in mind, I think most C-section moms are indeed very grateful for modern medicine, because you’re right, who knows what would have happened without that option. I don’t regret trying to deliver in a birthing center, but it was definitely not a fun ambulance ride to the hospital with a baby stuck you-know-where!
I had similar issues with my pelvis size and shape vs. larger babies. I tried twice but they just don’t fit out that way. It’s good to know we aren’t alone ❤️
I had a planned c section as my son was breech but i dont mind at all i was just glad me and my son were ok. Had a few minor issues with my scar otherwise i cant complain at all. Looking forward to it fading though!
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
Thank you for sharing! Yes, the most important thing is definitely that our little ones made it here safely, not HOW they got here. And though the scar will always be there, it does fade a lot and eventually you’ll probably forget it’s even there 🙂
Such a sigh of relief to read your story and know I’m not alone! I could’ve almost written word for word this exact story myself. I had so much PTSD after my emergency c-section that eventually faded away with time. Thank you for sharing!
Stacey aka the Soccer Mom says
I never thought of it that way – I don’t know what exactly qualifies as PTSD but it sure was traumatic! I still get angry when I think about it and how the hospital treated us, but I promise over time even that fades. I’m happy to hear the post was something that spoke to you – thank you for letting me know!
Selena, I found it traumatic also and possibly developed ptsd. Letting you know I did too but it does get better
It’s such an amazing yet scary journey women go through. Scarguard is really helpful with the after care tho! It helps with raised scars and it disinfects while treating. Also, being a new mom means there’s not as much “Me time.” It’s a swipe, dry and go product, letting mommies be mommies. I’m all about being proud of my scar, but a little help doesn’t hurt.
I am due for my baby in May and due to some health issues, my OB Gynaec has already told me that I would give birth via C- Section. So, I was looking for blogs on information regarding C-Section and came across your post & whattoexpect. Your positive approach towards C-Section has given me a lot of positivity. I am no more worried about the scar because I know that the scar will fade. I have learned that with the passing time everything will be ok all the pain will go. I am happy that the reward will be worth every stitch. It is good to know that I am not alone, and many moms go through C- Section.
Nina Paul says
Thanks for sharing this. I’m sure many couples like us will get benefitted from this article.