Martin Valigursky/Fotolia

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Ad failed to load

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's not a great way to give birth, but be thankful because everyone is healthy." As a result, people don't know what to expect, so I asked moms to share the most surprising part about having a C-section. In the end, and always, we deserve to know what we, as pregnant women preparing to give birth, might be in for.

In talking to women about C-section delivery for a few years now, I have learned (perhaps not surprisingly) that there is no one C-section experience. The truth of the matter is that there are so many reactions to (and feelings that can go along with) this specific kind of birth. Yes, lots of women are disappointed. Yes, many women simply don't like it. But other women loved the experience and choose it for subsequent births gladly, even if vaginal delivery was an option for them.

That variety came through when I asked my fellow C-section moms what they didn't see coming. There were some commonalities (the main one seemed to be among women who'd had more than one C-section stating that planned ones were usually easier to manage, before, during, and after), but in general it seems there's a lot we can learn from each other.

Ad failed to load



"That I had to re-learn how to do all activities that involved engaging my abdominal muscles. I was shocked to find that I could not flush the hospital room toilet, as it required engagement of my abs."


"How great the whole process was. It was a scheduled C-section ... the procedure took 45 minutes. [I] got to hold my babe once I was in the recovery room, but got to see him right away. [I] had a quick recovery and felt great. Pretty much the same with my second, except she decided to come earlier than my scheduled date. I would do it all again in a heart beat. I feel like C-sections get a bad rap but, honestly, I felt my recovery was much better than some of my friends' who had vaginal deliveries. I really think it’s a case-by-case situation."


Ad failed to load



"That I bled just as much as if I had had a vaginal birth! And that my second C-section was much easier than my first!"


"Most surprising thing after [was] the shaking/shivering uncontrollably when I was still in the OR. I'm pretty sure I have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the overall experience. I never even considered that could happen."


Ad failed to load



"I was so sick after my first one! I spent, like, 12 hours after my C-section unable to sit up without puking. My second was much better."


"I was not expecting how easily I recovered from my scheduled C-sections. I'd had 'minimally invasive' abdominal surgery and the recovery was dreadful (terrible nausea/vomiting from the general anesthesia, terrible gas pain in my chest and back). I was lucky enough to have the surgery go smoothly, quickly, painlessly, and then I was up and walking before the end of the day (well, shuffling). The soreness was unpleasant for a couple of weeks, but not unbearable and I didn't need anything more than Motrin to recover (I kept the epidural in for 48 hours after the surgery, which I highly recommend). Your mileage may vary, but I just want to put it out there that it can be a relatively easy experience."


Ad failed to load



"The most surprising part for me was how badly sex hurt after. How sore and dry I was despite not pushing a baby out of there."


"My most surprising one was feeling panicked right before the surgery began. My C-section was elective on emphatic recommendation by my OB after significant/traumatic tearing from my first (vaginal) birth. I had been thinking about how easy it all seemed, breezing into the hospital and all, and then while they were still getting my husband into his [scrubs], all of a sudden I just got panicky and almost cried. It was just so surreal to think of the doctor cutting a baby out of me while I was awake! It freaked me out! ...

Later, people asked me which birth was easier: the scheduled C-section or the vaginal birth with level-4 tearing. I’m honestly not sure, and I still maintain that the options for birthing a kidlet are both pretty terrible."


Ad failed to load



"Not being able to feel yourself breathe is terrifying! So, your anesthesiologist is your best friend, letting you know your oxygen levels are perfect and your breasts are not suffocating you. Also, I had my arms strapped down which was a total surprise."


"I expected soreness and itching at the incision, but not numbness. Six and a half years out from the first of two C-sections and I am still numb around the incision. I also did not expect the fear of having the incision open the first few weeks. I walked around with a pillow against me so I wouldn't open back up and have my insides fall out. Totally irrational fear."


Ad failed to load



"The super ridiculously swollen Shrek-like feet from all the fluids they’d pumped into me. Like way more swollen than I’d ever been while pregnant. I couldn’t even wear flip flops for over a week!"


"How different my recovery was between an emergency C-section after pushing for three hours, and then a scheduled C-section with my second. Like night and day. How small the incision was. How holding a pillow on the incision site really does help when you have to laugh, cry, sneeze, etc. (That pillow was my baby, it went everywhere with me, and was always at my side.) Gas pain in the shoulders. I was shocked at how that happens, and how painful it really was. How much sex hurt after."


Ad failed to load



"What was most surprising was how easy I found my recovery to be. I know that's not the norm, and people kept urging me to sit down and rest, but I felt fine. I stopped taking my pain meds five days postpartum."


"Well I certainly didn’t think I would have an allergic reaction to the meds. Almost immediately after the surgery I was violently shaking and was both freezing and sweating at the same time! Not a joyful moment!"



"I was most surprised by how terrified I was. My irrational mind took over and I was certain that I would die and my husband would have to care for our sons alone. So maybe I was most surprised by the fact that I lived and recovered."

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

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 BS

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