January 10th, 2022
Preparing For Your C-Section
Written By: Elisa Agostinho
If your OB-GYN has scheduled a C-section for you, there are things you need to know to make the experience as stress-free as it can be. Forewarned is definitely forearmed here. But – to address those of you who haven’t scheduled one and to paraphrase another oft-used adage – the best-laid plans can often go sideways, big time. So, whatever your expectation is for baby day, all parents-to-be should familiarize themselves with how to prepare for a C-section, and we’re laying that out for you here, step by step, so you know what to expect.
WHAT EVERY MOM-TO-BE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT C-SECTIONS-
You’re pregnant! Everyone around you couldn’t be happier, and they’ve probably all shared their own labor and delivery stories with you. Take a collective tip from every mom who’s been through it – whatever baby day plan you’ve made could change, and a C-section may end up being a part of it. Knowing what one entails and what to expect is a good idea for everyone.
Case in point: my sainted mom, who went through hours and hours of a full-on, drug-free natural childbirth with my younger brother BEFORE having to undergo a C-section with his twin – my sister, who is still as stubborn as hell today – four hours after he showed up.
"So, whatever your expectation is for baby day, all parents-to-be should familiarize themselves with how to prepare for a C-Section"
How to prepare for a C-Section.
If you and your OB-GYN have determined that a C-section is the way to go, you’ve already discussed what’s going to happen. That includes:
- Anesthesia & viewing options – yes, you have them. While C-sections are common, accounting for 1 in 3 births in the U.S., they’re still a major surgery; determine your desired state of consciousness during the procedure beforehand. You will either be fully awake but numb from the waist down, or completely under. If it’s the former, many hospitals provide screens so you can view the surgery and your little one being delivered.
- Real talk about your incision. The top three closers are stitches, staples, and glue. What your doctor chooses will depend on the type of incision made, your skin’s characteristics, and your personal preferences, to an extent. Have a talk with him or her about it so you know what to expect.
- Dealing with post-op pain. There are a lot of options here, so be sure to go over all of them with your doctor. Immediately post-surgery you may receive meds via epidural catheter or through an IV; following that you’ll likely be switched over to oral meds as soon as you’re eating. And if you’re a sober living mom-to-be, don’t fret: many doctors have developed non-narcotic pain management protocols. If that’s something you need to discuss with your OB-GYN – or want to, if steering clear of opioids is just something you prefer to do – be sure to do it.
- Halting existing medications you may be taking to manage any health or medical conditions – and when – is something you’ll probably discuss with your doctor early on, but it doesn’t hurt to reconfirm how long prior to your C-section you’ll need to stop, if at all.
- Restricting solid foods 8-10 hours prior to your arrival at the hospital. This will help you avoid vomiting during the procedure. Clear liquids, however, are usually OK up to two hours before surgery – but everyone’s different, so confirm that with your doctor, as well as what liquids are on your safe list.
- Showering with a doctor-approved antibacterial soap beforehand. That kills bacteria on your skin, which helps combat the risk of infection post-surgery. Your OB-GYN’s office may provide you with chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) cloths, too, which are often used to prep incision areas pre-surgery.
- No shaving or waxing your pubic area, groin, or stomach. Doing so can leave behind tiny scratches that are open doors for bacteria – and thus, infection. Your nurse will use clippers to clear a path if necessary pre-surgery.
What to do the night before a C-section
- Shower with your doc-approved antibacterial soap, do NOT shave, and dry off with a fresh towel. (If you opt for a bath make sure the tub’s been scrubbed super-clean before using it.)
- If your OB-GYN has recommended CHG cloths, use them to wipe down the front of your torso from below your breasts to your upper thighs (avoiding the genital area), let skin air dry, and put on clean PJpjs. Do not apply any lotions, creams, powders, deodorant, perfumes, scented body sprays, or hair products.
- Your doc may ask you to repeat the shower routine prior to coming to the hospital, in which case, follow up with clean, loose, comfortable clothing, and leave the jewelry at home.
Your doctor will let you know what time to arrive at the hospital. Take a deep breath, be sure to again confirm your incision and pain management plans with them prior to going into the operating room, and think about holding your baby on the other side. You got this!