Let’s get right to it… no back story blah blah blah of why I had a caesarean. Why don’t we jump right into the whole nitty gritty of it all. From a quick what to pack, the night before and during and after your hospital visit.
Ask the hospital these things in advance
- Can you only photograph or video as well in the theatre
- Will your husband be allowed to cut the cord
- Can you do skin to skin
- What are the hospital rules for a birth photographer.
- Visiting times for grandparents and siblings
To pack for a c-section
Essentials for your hospital bag and what to take note of.
- Garments that won’t sit across your cut or be too tight – your body won’t go straight back to normal.
- A hand mirror and hair clips etc. Put these in a small travel bag with any other items you want at arms reach.
- Sanitary pads.
- Comfortable underwear
The day before your hospital visit
- Make sure you ask your gyne everything you should know for that day. Time to arrive, length of admission and what they want you to do before hand.
- In my case my gyne asked me to do the following. Shave the area of where I had been cut before for my first c-section and use an antibacterial ointment to clean the area. She also asked me to bath when I got home after I shaved, bath again in the evening and morning and repeat the use of the ointment.
- Like all major surgeries you cannot eat or drink after midnight.
From here on… this is my own view of my hospital stay for my caesarean and all words and opinions are my own.
The day of the birth
This is based on my 2nd c-section and that stay.
- Get to the hospital early, even a little earlier than they tell you. Somehow things can run a bit late. You don’t want to be rushed.
- We arrived on time – 6am / the staff in the maternity ward were the night shift and freaking exhausted- take that into consideration. Depending on the time you arrive.
- Ask all the questions up front. Don’t be afraid to ask the nurses who will be helping you. Where will your bed be. What do they need to do with you and how long will it take and can they let surgery notify your gyne that you are there.
- I had a private room – due to the mumps (see my birth story for all that info)
- Regardless put your valuables in a lockable cupboard. There should be one with a key. Or ask the staff if there is somewhere to place your items.
- Put some items in your bedside cabinet. Like a juice/water, tissues, your hair clips and small mirror as I mentioned. And if you want make up for touch ups.
- Remember this. You won’t be able to move when you come back from the birth.
- You will be given a gown to put on. It ties up the back. No panties. Etc. no jewelry so you might want to leave those type of things home.
- Also ask if they want to do a urine test before you are taken for surgery so you don’t pee like I did and then have to wait.
- You will be asked all type of questions about your health etc and medical history. These include previous miscarriages and when your last period was. So be prepared for that.
- You will be wheeled through on your bed to the delivery room. There you will be told what to expect.
In the theatre
- You will be taken into a sterile room, just like you have seen maybe on a medical TV show. It’s super sterile and clinical. No warm and fuzzy environment here.
- You might be lucky and have lovely staff like I had – who were very kind to me. But don’t expect all cuddles here – it’s a serious environment.
- The anesthetist will explain how they will administer the drugs. And what you can expect. They should ask you to communicate how you are feeling during the process.
- A drip is placed in your hand.
- You are asked to sit over the surgery slab/ bed thingy. I have no idea what it is called. Legs over. Then curve your spine. The epidural will be placed in your lower spine.
- This could hurt a little or not at all. But it’s over quickly so don’t be a naff. You would rather have the small pain. Than having to feel a scalpel in your belly.
- It hurt for me this time – I don’t know why, maybe because I could not relax.
- You might feel a bit nauseous or faint. Tell the anesthetist if you are.
- Once administered you are lain flat
- And start to feel numb from the chest down.
- A catheter will be inserted
- And your dignity will go out the window as you are bare and prepped for surgery.
- You should not be able to feel any pain. Just pressure and tugging.
- Look at your husband or partners eyes and focus on him/her.
- Avoid reflective surfaces if you don’t want to see any blood etc.
Let me leave it there for in theatre – the rest will be your own memory.
After the birth
- With a caesarean there will be a large portion of time you won’t see your baby. As you lie in recovery by yourself. It’s horrible. I won’t lie. All you want is your baby.
- When taken to your room your husband won’t know that you are there. Before the staff just leave you in the room. Ask them to help you with the following. Get to your phone if you need to. Place it where you can reach it.
- Have your bedside cabinet at hands reach
- Make sure they give you the nurse buzzer. Explain how it works if you have not used one before. And don’t let it fall. As you will be stuck in that room unable to call anyone. If you are with other moms you could ask them to help.
- Ask the nursing staff from the maternity ward and not surgery to let your husband know you are here. And that you want your baby as soon as they are ready.
- Wyatt took awhile to come to me as they tried to warm him up.
- Ask if you can put them in your clothes you brought if that matters to you.
- While in bed the first day you can’t move well or get out of bed.
Don’t be scared to ask for help
- You have just had major surgery and don’t need to be a hero. Ask for help and ask questions if you are unsure.
- That nurse buzzer will be used often. That is okay.
- People will have to help you get your baby and bring it to you. Change diapers etc.
- You will have a catheter remember.
- The nurses will come to check it. Replace your giant pads. And they will clean your private parts.
- Pain killers can be administered via injection like morphine etc. You will also be given pain suppositories – by the nurse on the first day. They will ask you to do it yourself when you are up and walking.
- They will also come and empty your urine bag.
- It’s okay to ask for extra pillows if you want, you will need to be comfortable.
Let’s get walking
- A physiotherapist may come to help you get out of bed if your gyne thinks you are ready.
- These are the tips mine told me. Roll to your side. Slowly lift yourself up with your arms and not your stomach. And slowly place your legs one after each other over the bed. And slowly stand up. It will hurt less when you are finally straight.
- Practice walking, this will help with the pain.
- Don’t try lift or reach high or low for things. Take care of yourself.
Other bits and bobs.
- Be nice to the nurses – they are your best friends while there. Know their names. When they are on shift. These ladies will be caring for you and your child.
- Pack a shower cap. As you will have to shower and not bath.
- If you are an avid photographer like me. Try ask to be placed by a window if you can for natural light.
- Even though a private room is great, it is also lonely- you won’t have other moms to chat to and bond with. But you will miss out on their kids crying and all their visitors.
- Take advantage of the time when baby is in the nursery to shower. Get ready. Phone family.
- Ask if the hospital has WiFi for patients.
- Your baby will receive an immunization.
- You can only change their diapers in the nursery.
- Take your choice of bath wash if you want to have your own.
- Hospitals will only bath baby on the day you leave.
- Take the babies wrist band for your keepsakes.
- Ask about the road to health book and any other paperwork for when you leave.
On the day you go and beyond.
- The pediatrician will need to see your baby to give the go ahead for them to go and your gynecologist for you.
- The pediatrician will set a follow up date visit.
- Your gynecologist will tell you how to care for your scar and when you will see them next.
- My gyne told me to always keep the plaster dry and even use a hairdryer after a shower.
- The seatbelt might be a problem on the way home. It sits right by your cut. Place your hand or a soft small pillow between you and the belt.
Most of all take it easy at home. You had major surgery and need to heal properly.
Feature photo: Conway Photography