So you've had a baby or two, and now you're ready to get the heck out of Dodge and get back to a familiar environment to convalesce in relative peace without 10 different people checking on you every hour. Those checks are really important, though, and the nurses and doctors are monitoring more than just your incision if you've had a C-section. It's better to know what has to happen before you can be discharged after a C-section so you don't start throwing elbows in an escape attempt. I know — it's hard to think of something more claustrophobic than a hospital stay.
The postoperative period is a crucial time wherein the doctors and nurses monitor your vitals, ensure that you're healing, that your uterus is contracting, and that your body is once again working as it should. Before you're discharged you'll be expected to be upright, mobile, contracting, and without lingering dizziness. You'll also have to pass flatus (gas) before being discharged because this certifies that your digestive system is once again moving as it should, and has not developed an ileus. Your doctors and nurses will make sure that you're able to eat and drink normally — if lightly, so that you can fuel the healing process, according to an article in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management.
After your surgery, the doctors and nurses will be monitoring your vitals with regularity, so don't be surprised if it feels like a parade of scrub-wearing mother hens going about your room and person for the days you're there. But your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as your vestibular system, need to be stable before they even consider discharging you, according to maternity nurse Katherine O'Conner of New York City. She tells Romper, "We can't release you if you're dizzy, and that's actually fairly common after a cesarean.
"We also have to wait for you to pass gas before we let you go home because it shows us that your intestines are moving, and not blocked in any way from the surgery. It's weird and uncomfortable to talk about, but we'll be asking lots of questions about it." She notes that there's absolutely no need to be embarrassed about this, and that the nurses are silently cheering you on to be able to do this and go home. No one wants to keep a mom in the hospital longer than they would normally be, least of all the doctors and nurses.
"If you're healing well, can move, eat, and pass gas, you're almost there. We also need to make sure that your bleeding is progressing as it should, and that your incision is clean and the healing process has begun." O'Conner says that ensuring your overall health, and that your body is attempting to return to a state of equilibrium after such a massive shift, is what they're concerned with.
However, I know that at least in New York City, there are a few more things they'll make you do before you leave and they're pretty standard for any birth. First is that you need to have a car seat, and it needs to be in regulation. No car seat, no discharge, unless you're in the unenviable position of leaving without your baby. Also, in New York City, you get to watch a couple of incredibly boring informational videos about infant safety. They are, admittedly, chockfull of important info for caring for your new one, but I definitely wanted to throw the remote at the perky woman on-screen who was definitely not wearing mesh underpants and bleeding like a stuck pig while cramping every few minutes. She was — perky.
It all feels overwhelming and very annoying in the moment, but they are really just looking out for you and your baby, and you'd probably rather have it settled before you leave than finding yourself having to return.
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