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C-Section Delivery Side Effects and 15 Things Nobody Tells You

childbirth and c-section side effects

Before heading to the hospital, find out c-section delivery side effects and 15 things nobody tells you. There are mixed feelings when you discover you need a c-section. Sometimes you find out in the delivery room like I did with my first child. Other moms know ahead of time. Either way, you soon realize surgery will be part of your birthing process.


The CDC reports 32 percent of deliveries in the United States are c-sections. Being aware of these c-section delivery side effects and 15 things nobody tells you about.

1. Not All C-Sections Are Scheduled

One of the perceived benefits of a c-section is you know when you will birth. Nurseries get fully decorated, and doctors don't get called in the middle of the night. But not all c-sections are scheduled. I worked with a doula and took natural childbirth classes. But my son was large, and my pelvis was small. Our heart rates went up dangerously during the birthing process. The doctors agreed an emergency c-section would reduce the risks for my baby and me. If you or your child is in danger, the doctors might decide a c-section is a necessity.

2. The Fear Factor

Husbands and other birthing partners have the best intentions. But they might not be prepared for an emergency c-section. The idea of witnessing a major surgery could inspire feelings of fear and anxiety. It is better to allow them to leave the room than to stick to a plan that could lead to fainting, distractions, and other problems. Plus, they will need to be strong to help you with your c-section delivery side effects later.

3. Let Go and Let It Happen

Many parents have a birth plan and want to stick to it.Birthing classes and philosophies on natural childbirth fall to the wayside when lives are at stake. Stress can add to the complications and make it worse. Remember, you chose your doctors because you trusted them. When emergencies arise, you need to let go and let it happen. This is especially important to remember if restraints are needed. They are used to protect you and your baby while maintaining a sterile surgical environment.

4. Idle Chatter

Surgeons and nurses perform c-sections every day, and it's part of their usual routine. For you, a c-section is a life-altering experience. For them, it is their work. As a result, the surgical staff may engage in idle chatter during your c-section. If they start talking about politics or the weather, don't be offended. Remember, they are likely to do a better job if they feel relaxed and comfortable.

5. No Food and Water

Women are advised not to eat before a c-section. And regardless of how tough it gets along the way, no water or beverages are permitted. Ice chips are sparingly administered to help keep your whistle wet. They are a blessing at that moment when you feel overwhelmed with thirst!

6. Pushing and Pulling

While you might not be pushing a baby out of your birth canal, you'll still feel its presence. Even with anesthesia, you are likely to get a pushing and pulling sensation as the baby comes out of your body. It is not painful but can certainly be surprising. Think about a tooth extraction. Even though you are numb, you feel pressure in your mouth. A similar feeling occurs when you are getting a c-section.

7. Be Prepared to Be Numb

Many mothers look forward to feeling the birthing process. A c-section requires numbing for the surgery. While you are sure to feel some pushing and pulling, you are mostly numb during the process. A sheet prevents you from seeing what is going on. Often the doctor shows you the baby over the sheet so you are still part of everything as it happens.

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8. You Might Stay Numb for Awhile

The numbness after surgery can last longer than you think. Your nipples might be numb the first time you try to breastfeed. And you might not be able to feel your stomach for awhile. The scar tends to be numb to the touch for weeks. Also, breastfeeding might be awkward if the area becomes painful. A technique called the “football hold” position can help you breastfeed your baby more comfortably.

9. Shake it Up

Once the baby arrives, you might find yourself shaking uncontrollably. Your body shakes, your teeth chatter, and you might get some chills. The shakes are related to the anesthesia required when you get an epidural before the c-section. Often, it is one of the inevitable c-section delivery side effects. Usually, it only lasts a couple of hours, but it can be scary for those who are unprepared for it. And remember, you'll also have a catheter for about 24 hours after the surgery.

10. You Will Need Help

Simple tasks you look forward to, such as picking up your baby, might be impossible the first couple of days after a c-section. Nurses and family members might need to take care of lifting your baby and diapering until you start to heal. Be aware of your limitations. Ripping out your stitches can lead to painful infections and complications.

11. Bowel Movements Are a Big Deal

After a surgery, it takes time for your organs to adjust. It might be days before you make a bowel movement. The doctor will carefully monitor your bathroom activity to make sure everything is back in good working order. A stool softener might be administered to help push things along.

12. Healing Can Take Time

It can take more time to heal from a c-section. You might be out of work for eight to twelve weeks. Trying to get back to business sooner can put you out of commission longer if your scar opens up. Listen to your doctor and don't try to rush back to work. Moms with other children to care for at home should get help. And intimacy with your husband should also be avoided until you heal, based on your doc's advice.

13. The C-Section Scar

A c-section scar is usually only 4 to 6 inches. Initially, the area is stapled and sutured. The staples come out before you leave the hospital. Sterile strips go over the scar. The sutures disappear on their own after a few days, which is usually when the strips get removed. You can shower but no bathing or submerging the scar for at least a couple of weeks. In about six weeks, the scar heals and you can bathe again. Sometimes your stomach has a flappy look. It is important to keep the area clean and moist without rubbing it. And it is easily hidden by a bikini bottom for those who are concerned about appearances.

14. Every Woman Has Different C-Section Delivery Side Effects

Each c-section is as unique as the mother herself. No two women will have the same experience. Some prefer the timing and predictability of a c-section while others have tales of woe. For everyone, it is major abdominal surgery. Take time to heal, follow your doctor's advice, and enlist as much assistance as possible those first few weeks after your baby arrives.

15 Embrace Modern Technology

Remember, you are blessed to live during a time when c-sections are an option. Modern technology is keeping more mothers and babies alive. It might not be your plan, but it could be God's plan. While c-section delivery side effects are inevitable, they are short-term complications that can lead to long-term joy.

What about having another baby after a c-section? What are your options? Stay tuned for my next article about my daughter's birth!