The mere thought of having a c-section, as opposed to a vaginal birth, draws up images of a cold, sterile table, lots of surgical instruments, and rare but scary scenarios. But the truth is, what to expect during a c-section is a bunch of the most natural, normal things that pretty much every c-section mama has gone through. C-sections are now just as common as vaginal births and in no way signify that you weren't "strong enough" or "good enough" to deliver your baby vaginally. When I was told that I would be having a c-section — after three days of labor and then a good four hours of pushing (yes, those numbers are accurate) — I was terrified. I had never experienced any kind of surgery before and the thought of having my baby pulled out of a gash in my stomach didn't sound as easy as the doctors and nurses made it sound.
And as scary as it all was, everything I had gone through during my c-section was totally normal and (despite how some people want to define the word) natural. Even the sharp pressure of the scalpel and losing enough blood to need to make use out of the hospital's blood bank. While I wasn't really sure what to expect from a c-section, though, I can at least agree that putting your trust in the hands of doctors is also a very natural thing, and far from the cop out that some people like to label c-sections as. Most of the things you experience during a c-section are normal things and here are just some of them to make you feel a little less worried about your own experience.
1. Being Shaved By A Nurse (Yes, It's As Awkward As It Sounds)
You and I both know that most people's pubic hair reaches a decent way above that bikini line, which is right around where the c-section incision is made, so unless you want that c-section incision to have some of those little curlies getting in the way, then you had better agree to this on-the-spot shave.
2. Nausea, Even If You Haven't Eaten
Maybe it's the drugs you are pumped full of, or the serious case of nerves at freaking giving birth, but there is a very good chance that you can expect to experience some serious nausea during a c-section, just like any other birth.
3. Being Strapped Down
Probably one of the scariest surprises during my c-section was that my arms had to be strapped down on the table, stretched out on either side of me. Truth be told, I didn't really notice it too much between the anesthesia and nerves, but it was definitely a surprise to be literally strapped down.
4. Pressure Or Even Pain When They Make The First Incision
I may have felt a little bit of pain when the surgeon made the first cut, but I know a lot of women who have merely felt pressure. Which, truly, is what you should actually expect during a c-section.
5. The Feeling Of Hands Inside Of Your Body, Shifting Your Baby
For mine, I was knocked out, but for the women who are awake during their c-sections, there is a distinct feeling of hands, or pressure, inside of your body, shifting the baby around to get it into position to pull out.
6. Losing A Bit Of Blood That Seems Like A Lot More
This is surgery, so you have to expect some sort of blood to be involved, but if you get to see or hear about any blood loss during your c-section, it's admittedly scary. But even so, it is totally natural.
7. Temporary Paralysis In Your Legs
Because of that handy little epidural, you can expect a super strong numbness in your legs during and after your c-section. Not that you'll feel much like getting out of bed or doing anything other than sleeping or cuddling that brand new baby.
8. Pressure In Your Abdomen As They Stitch You Up
Whether you get the staples or dissolvable stitches to close you back up after that c-section, you'll likely be awake enough to feel the very real (but totally normal) pressure in your abdomen. If you're like me, you'll just get to feel them after groggily waking up in recovery, but trust me, that's normal too.
9. Getting To See Your Baby For Just A Few Minutes
Having a c-section may seem like a super quick process, but that's because it is. What you can expect during a c-section is the quick bonding experience with your kid before they whisk it away to get it all checked out while you get to have the same treatment.
10. The Bright Lights Of The Delivery Room
Yeah, Grey's Anatomy this is not. And it isn't Nip/Tuck either. There probably isn't going to be some dreamy doctor slicing you open and instead of the soft, dim lights that you see on TV, expect your c-section procedure to be full of bright, harsh lights. Fun, huh?
11. The Swiftness Of It All
Even though having a c-section is a legit surgical procedure, the whole things seems like it takes a total of 10 minutes or so. At least, that's what my husband tells me. I can remember getting into the room at 12:05 and our son's time of birth is recorded as 12:23, so yeah, pretty amazingly speedy.
12. Tears, And Lots Of 'Em
Since I was a knocked out lump during my c-section, I didn't get to see my baby until after I had recovered for a couple of hours. But I have heard enough stories about what to expect during a c-section to know about the amount of tears that come when you see that brand new baby for the first time, still covered in that gross stuff they had lived in for nine months or so. Not to mention the tears that come from your baby wailing at not being cleaned and bundled up ASAP. But just think of it as a precursor for the high maintenance sort of behavior you're going to be experiencing for the next 18 years or so. (Totally normal.)