Jamie Kenney

13 Women Describe What It Actually Feels Like To Have A C-Section

Ad failed to load

My first child was born via emergency c-section and, in the five years since, I've thought a lot about the experience. While delivering by means of abdominal surgery wasn't my first choice, I'd always had a funny intuition that's what was going to happen (though, to be fair, I also had a feeling he was going to have black hair and he was born a redhead so you win some you lose some). Intuition prompted mental preparation and the result was an enjoyable lovely, birth. I decided to ask other women what it feels like to have a c-section, as I know I'm not alone in the experience. In fact, an estimated 32 percent of US births are caesareans. Predictably, the answers I received ran the gamut from upset to delight and traumatized to relieved.

When I talked to my Sisterhood of the Traveling Scalpel (new band name, called it), I let them in on my personal term for a c-section: a Viking Birth. I find it really empowering and, in a way, more descriptive than "c-section," which sounds really non-intuitive and nothing short of clinical. Because, really, having a baby cut out of you and then getting up and walking, usually within a few hours, is pretty awesome. Like, that's something out of Norse mythology right there (or could be). I feel like it paints a prouder picture for us moms who, for whatever reason, opted for (or required) a "non-traditional" birth.

So what exactly did these fierce warrior women have to say about their c-sections? It turns out, a lot.

Ad failed to load



"With [my first child], mentally relieving. He was such a long labor with complications and interventions, that it felt 100 percent relieving that he was OK and finally here. With [my second child] I was less tired and remember the physical sensations more, which was a medium amount of tugging and pressure and then a massive suction as she was being ripped from my body. Standing up for the first time (with both) [was] burning hell, like someone had sliced you in half...oh wait that's what did happen*!"

[*Writer's note: I feel the need to assure our readers that you are not, in fact, sliced in half when you have a c-section. But in addition to being cheeky, Christy is wise and experienced and sometimes it really does feel like that. So... #truerthantruth.]


"[I am the] third generation of all women in my maternal line having to [give] birth through c-section even grandma way back in 1948 had three. So my experience was like, drive to the hospital, get ready, hang out, and wait to freeze your naked ass off on the table for a while. In both cases, I remember during the c-section the sensation of pulling and being "shaken" while they extracted my kiddos. I didn't want to see, but hubby got to pull baby #2 out which was pretty badass. The during was pretty straight forward, the after was fairly brutal. I got extremely nauseous from my first and ended up puking for hours after just being cut wide open. Not ideal and made my recovery incredibly long because I was so sore.

[A c-section is] having surgery and for the first time in your life there is no one taking care of you and you have to take care of another person. Thank goodness for the baby endorphins or I don't know how I would have gotten out of bed."


[*Writer's note: if you escaped the '90s without having to see this video, count yourself #blessed, because that sh*t gave me nightmares.]

Ad failed to load



"I was so upset when the doctor told me I was going to have to have a c-section. I started crying and made the doctor upset. I was nervous. I felt nothing. No push. No tug. Recovery was easy for me. When I already had a "zipper" (as my husband calls it) I felt relieved that I knew exactly how my 2nd birth would happen ... until my water broke the day before my scheduled c-section. 2nd c-section I felt nothing. No pressure, no push, no tug. Recovery was easy.

Currently: My scar itches like a son of a b*tch 3 years later."


"I had been in labor 36 hours [before my emergency c-section]. I was exhausted and terrified when they told me we were going into surgery. The nurse told me it would feel like someone was suffocating me and it did for a few seconds. There was tugging and pulling sensations. I was in and out of consciousness. My child was rushed to NICU and I was tended to and forced to stay awake. It was terrifying and confusing given my state. Recovery wasn't bad-- within a week I was walking and driving, doing everything like normal.

[My second c-section] was planned. I was in labor when we arrived. Nervous, scared and anxious. Felt tugging and pulling but no pain. Was awake and fully aware this time. I remember shaking from the meds they gave me and itching like crazy. The recovery was horrific. I slept in a chair for a week it felt like my stomach was going to rip open every time I moved. It took 2 weeks before I could drive or walk somewhat normal."


Ad failed to load



"My first was a "viking birth" and the one thing no one told me about was that after the surgery, weeks and months after the surgery, a part of my pelvis area would be completely numb. I asked a friend of mine and she said it happened to her too and took forever to go away. Why don't any birth books talk about this*?"

[Writer's note: Well now you've talked about it, Zimra, and we're talking about it, and now maybe even more people will talk about it. Be the change, girl!]


"I had to have [a c-section] because I'd had some uterine fibroids removed years before baby, and that increases the risk of uterine rupture, so it was planned "Viking Birth" all the way. And while that wouldn't have been my first choice that would have been gloriously swift vaginal delivery it was actually pretty awesome. I was never in a minute's pain. I was anxious, because the idea of getting a spinal block is inherently anxiety-inducing what with the needle going into my spine and all, but no part of it was truly painful, just a little unpleasant. I showed up feeling good and strong and happy. They numbed me up, there was a lot of pushing and pulling for about 10 seconds it was hard to breathe as they wrestled my innards and then the doctor held up a screaming newborn.

... [F]rankly, I was never in much pain at all. I don't think abdominal surgery is the ideal way to give birth (the weeks of sore abs and not being able to lift anything was a drag) but giving birth with no pain is pretty f**king awesome, and the dream of millennia of women, so I'm not going to knock it."


Ad failed to load



"After 50 hours of being in the hospital laboring, my body and mind were too tired. It was horrible. The worst pregnancy restless leg syndrome x 10 all over my body, shivering and shaking, and my eyes wouldn't open I was so tired, but my mind was racing all over the place. [I] couldn't move my body at all. I was also catching glimpses of the actual procedure in the reflection of the light fixture or something on the ceiling. It really was horrible. Starting to remember why I was one and done again..."


"For me there were two scary points; getting the spinal and the point [when it took] effect. Then there is a lot of weird noises, tugging and pulling. It's really bizarre especially because I couldn't see or feel anything. And then you hear your baby and everything is wonderful. For the next 24 hours I was stuck in a bed with these things wrapped around my legs that periodically apply pressure (P.S. this is actually pretty amazing because after months of swollen calves it's like having your own personal massage therapist).

The next day my nurse got me out of bed to stand up. Walking is so important for recovery, except for me because every time, like clockwork, within minutes of getting out of bed, I faint. The second time was bad because I was left by myself in a chair when I started to black out. I managed to hit the call button but I have no idea how long it took. All I know was I was on the floor with smelling salts when I came to. By the third time I knew what to expect and warned everyone not to leave me alone for the first time up!"


Ad failed to load



"My son was breech. I had a scheduled c-section. [I] never had a contraction. I'd had 10+ surgeries in my pre-mom life, so I wasn't scared. The nurse said I was like "a statue" for the spinal block. No prob, I thought. I got this. I put my brain elsewhere as my beloved OB announced "We're cutting." I was scared! I didn't think I would be but I was. Ridiculous pressure and pulling as they got my son un-stuck. His butt was wedged in my pelvis and all his limbs were on my right side and his head was in my chest.

He came out butt-first and the doc cried "He's pooping! He's pooping EVERYWHERE!" Cleanup was not on my radar. I was actively sobbing looking at my husband holding my baby for me to see. Today, two years later, I have to look really hard for my scar. However I do have persistent numbness and I swear when I get bloated it's lopsided. Overall I never think about it because I'm too busy chasing the result!"

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s Bullsh*t

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

I’m Registered At Babies “R” Us, & I'm Freaking The Hell Out

Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

Women Who Miscarry Early Deserve To Grieve — Here's How Hospitals Should Be Helping

When I lost my baby back in 2013, it was because of a very early miscarriage. Because of the little amount of time I spent being pregnant, it was though my child had never really existed, which made the next few years hard — I felt like they had been…
By Risa Kerslake

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

7 Reasons Why March Babies Are Total Badasses

From the moment you become pregnant, you begin to wonder what your little one will be like. Will they look like you, your partner, or your Great Aunt Edna? Will they be the quiet, thoughtful type or arrive on this planet raring to go? It's fun to ima…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

9 Easy Kid Foods To Turn Green, Just In Time For St. Patrick's Day

The best part about having kids is that you get your own personal crew to celebrate the holidays with, in all your color coordinating and matching glory. And with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, you are obviously working on turning everyth…
By Mishal Ali Zafar