What I would have liked to know before giving birth



  • I had an urgent Caesarean with my first child at 37 weeks.
  • I was absolutely unprepared and didn’t know anything about what is going on during and after the surgery.
  • For my second Cesarean, I was much better prepared.

To say that I was unprepared the first time I got pregnant would be an understatement. I didn’t know anything about pregnancy, childbirth and baby care. In fact, I had never changed diapers before my son was born.

I had focused all of my energy on learning about unassisted births because that was my goal. I had a superb team of midwives who followed my pregnancy without incident without too many invasive tests. However, my baby decided to stay in breech for a while, and after one of my last ultrasounds the pregnancy became high risk and high intervention: I had very little amniotic fluid and my son had to be born via an urgent Caesarean section. .

It was the opposite of what I had prepared for, and I panicked – mainly because I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I dealt with things as they happened.

Years later I had another Cesarean, but this time I was confident from start to finish because I knew exactly what to expect. I was prepared for the things that shocked me the first time around, like shaking after birth and taking care of my stitches. Overall, I had a better childbirth experience.

Here is what I wish I had known the first time.

You still feel things with spinal anesthesia

The first thing that surprised me, and freaked me out a bit, was that I could still feel things once my spinal anesthesia was placed. I could still wiggle my toes and feel where the doctor’s hands were, although I didn’t feel the pain.

During my second Cesarean section, my obstetrician did a sensitivity test before starting the surgery. I could feel her pinch and say it so loudly, so she asked for my anesthesia to be increased.

I could also feel the hands inside me as the doctor and nurses moved the organs for the baby to come out. It’s as trippy as it sounds.

Shaking is normal

Right after the birth of my first child, my whole body started to shake uncontrollably. The anesthesiologist held my hand, told me it was normal and let the jerks go through my body. This happens in most births, and it is because of the hormonal changes the body goes through.

I also had nausea after my second Cesarean, partly because of the tremors and because the delivery took a little longer since I was pregnant with twins. I informed the team and they put some medicine in my IV to make me feel more comfortable.

You will have a catheter after surgery

I had no idea that a catheter had been inserted after I started my spinal anesthesia, so you can imagine how surprised I was when the nurse came to my room to see if I was ready to walk, and too remove the bag full of pee on the side of my bed. Looking back, it makes sense to have one since you can’t walk for about 24 hours after surgery, or until the anesthesia wears off, meaning you can’t feel if your bladder is full or even walk to the bathroom.

I didn’t feel the catheter come in, but pulling it out wasn’t painless.

Sleeping in the hospital is difficult

“Sleep when baby sleeps” is the first piece of advice we give to new mothers. This is not possible when you are in the hospital recovering from major abdominal surgery. I have had many exams in the middle of the night, which usually did not coincide when my baby was awake and breastfeeding. This meant that I got little or no sleep at all.

Examinations, however, can save lives. I lost a considerable amount of blood and was severely anemic from my second Cesarean, which meant I had 24 hour iron transfusions.

You cannot eat immediately after

I had read stories about people’s first meal after giving birth and was delighted to eat a rare burger, fries and a milkshake, but a nurse told me I had to chew pieces of ice for the next 12 hours.

I was already hungry for not having eaten or drunk during the day while waiting for surgery and now I was hungry knowing that I would not have anything to eat before breakfast.

Going to the bathroom is weird

Peeing and pooping after any type of birth should be further discussed. It is not a comfortable experience for most. In my case, it felt like my stitches were going to tear just sitting down. This feeling lasted for weeks, and looking back I think it was more mental than anything else.

A good amount of blood can also come out of the vagina after birth, which makes things difficult when cleaning up after using the toilet.

While all birth experiences are different, knowing what to expect and when has helped me recover faster, both physically and mentally. Looking back, I wish I had read as much about Cesarean sections and postpartum recovery as I did about pregnancy and vaginal birth.


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