From the moment you learn you are pregnant, the days are filled with anticipation and joy. As you prepare for your little bundle of joy, you'll need to take into consideration whether you'll deliver him vaginally or by cesarean section. A c-section is performed for a variety of reasons, such as when a baby is breech or because the mother has previously had a c-section. When you plan for a c-section, it's helpful to know what to expect before, during and after the birth of your baby.
Speak With Your Doctor
Your doctor will decide if a c-section is the best choice for you, then you can discuss the benefits and risks of the procedure with him. A c-section is not recommended unless it's medically necessary, according to WebMD.com. You might ask questions about why you need a c-section, when it will be performed and whether or not you will also need a c-section again if you become pregnant in the future. Bring up any fears or concerns you may have, suggests Parenting.com, including the pain you will experience after the c-section.
Prepare Yourself Physically, Mentally and Emotionally
Take care of your body throughout your pregnancy by exercising, eating healthy and staying within your recommended weight range to make the surgery and recovery easier on your body, recommends Parenting.com. Eat lightly in the hours leading up to your scheduled c-section, since your intestines will be working slower than normal following surgery. Shower or bathe the night before and the morning of your c-section, using antibacterial soap, to reduce the risk of infection, suggest the Mayo Clinic website. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally by learning how to calm yourself when you feel yourself getting anxious, whether it's by learning some calming breathing techniques, attending a prenatal yoga class or listening to a relaxation CD.
Get Ready for the Hospital
Following a c-section, you should plan on staying in the hospital for 3 to 5 days, compared to the 1 to 2 day stay needed after a vaginal delivery. Pack everything you need for that length of time, including comfortable clothing with adjustable or elastic waistbands on the bottoms and tops with button or zip fronts for breastfeeding, along with warm socks, nursing bras and a bathrobe. Other personal items may include a toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, hair brush, lotion, lip gloss and soap. For your new baby, don't forget the car seat, diaper bag and a going home outfit. Most hospitals provide gowns, diapers, swaddling blankets and the other necessities needed for baby while in the hospital.
After Your Cesarean
In the days following your c-section, you'll be given pain medication to help with discomfort and encouraged to get up and walk to help relieve gas buildup, notes WebMD. Your body will need to rest and get an adequate amount of sleep to recover from your surgery, so accept help when its offered. Use a pillow to hold over your abdomen when you cough or sneeze to help reduce pain. Drink lots of fluids and resume eating a normal diet. If you have upset stomach, stick with foods such as yogurt, rice, toast and plain chicken. Begin breastfeeding your baby as soon as possible after your surgery and continue to do so frequently to build up your milk supply. If you are unable to nurse immediately following your c-section, just start breastfeeding whenever your doctor gives you the green light. Your breast milk will start to come in just as it would had you given birth vaginally, according to HealthyChildren.org.
- WebMD: Is a Planned C-Section Right for Me?
- BabyCenter: What to Pack For the Hospital When You're Having a C-Section
- Parenting: Owning Your C-Section
- Mayo Clinic: How You Prepare
- HealthyChildren.org: Delivery by Cesarean Section
- WebMD: Cesarean Section - What to Expect After C-Section
- HealthyChildren.org: Breastfeeding After Cesarean Delivery
- HealthyChildren.org: Going Home
- Photo Credit Martin Valigursky/iStock/Getty Images
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