What You Need To Know
What You Need To Know
Did you know that caesarean births are on the rise in Namibia? Age, location, and socioeconomic status influence the mother’s decision to have an elective c-section or natural birth.
To date, most caesarean births in Namibia occur due to complications. We want you to have the facts before resolving on your birth plan. That’s why this article explains what a c-section is, what to expect, the pros and cons of having a caesarean birth, and how to aid your recovery process.
- What is a caesarean section?
- Reasons to have a c-section
- What is more painful: c-section or natural birth?
- What are the risks of having a c-section?
- How to prepare for a caesarean birth?
- What happens during a c-section?
- How long is the recovery time for a c-section?
- What to expect after giving birth via c-section?
What is a caesarean section?
A caesarean section, or c-section, is the process of delivering a baby surgically by making incisions in the abdomen and uterus. Most doctors will recommend a c-section if you have a high-risk pregnancy. For example, you’re suffering from high blood pressure, or your baby is in a breech position.
These days, more women are choosing to have an elective c-section. Reasons given include it’s quicker, there is no unknown, you can give birth on a date of your choosing.
Choosing between natural labour and a c-section is a personal decision.
Reasons to have a c-section
- Your baby is in a breech position. This means your baby will be born feet or bottom first, which can often lead to complications. That’s not to say you can’t have a natural birth, but your doctor will likely recommend a c-section.
- Due to the size and weight of your baby, there’s a chance you could need an emergency c-section.
- You’re having twins. Some doctors prefer to perform a c-section on moms expecting identical twins.
- You have preeclampsia or high blood pressure.
- Your baby is not getting the nourishment it needs.
Now that you know why you might need to have a c-section, you might wonder if it’s more painful than natural labour?
What is more painful: c-section or natural birth?
It’s what every expecting mother wants to know. What is more painful: a caesarean section or natural labour? The only people who can answer this question are mothers who’ve had both.
Natural labour is more painful during the birthing process because you feel every contraction. And yet, as soon as you begin to push, all pain disappears. If labour contractions are too intense, you can always request an epidural. Provided you don’t need an episiotomy, recovery is quick.
A c-section doesn’t hurt during the procedure because you’re given a region anaesthetic that numbs you from the waist down. You’ll only feel pulling and pressure. But once the anaesthetic wears off, you’ll become aware that you’ve had surgery. Your doctors had to cut through your stomach muscles to reach your baby, so your recovery period is longer.
Medication can ease your discomfort, but you won’t be allowed to drive for the first six weeks. Doctors also recommend you do no heavy lifting during this time until your stitches have healed.
What are the risks of having a c-section?
Risks to you:
- An allergic reaction to the anaesthetic can occur, but it’s easily dealt with. Your anaesthetist will monitor you closely. If you experience feeling itchy, a numb tongue or light-headedness, raise your concerns during the procedure.
- Blood loss happens in extremely rare cases.
- An infection around the incision or uterine lining, though the latter is relatively uncommon. If you notice pain in your pelvic area, contact your doctor.
- Damage to your surrounding organs, such as your bladder and bowel, is rare. Under these circumstances, you would require additional surgery to repair the damaged organ.
Risks to your baby:
- Breathing problems can occur if any fluid is leftover in your baby’s lungs. If you notice rapid breathing, contact your doctor immediately.
- If you have your baby before 39 weeks, their lungs could not be fully developed. This can also cause breathing problems, but your doctor and the nursing staff will keep a close eye on your baby.
How to prepare for a caesarean birth?
The best way to prepare for your caesarean birth is to get informed. Learn as much as you can about the process and recovery time, so you’re not anxious during the procedure. Here’s what we suggest.
1. Speak to your doctor
Don’t be afraid to ask your obstetrician exactly what to expect on the day you’re admitted for your caesar. Feeling confident in your decision comes with knowing the facts. Remember, it’s the unknown which causes stress. Here are a few thought-starters:
- How long will we be in theatre?
- Who will be in theatre with me?
- Is my husband allowed with me?
- When can I hold my baby?
- What if something goes wrong?
- When will I be able to walk?
2. Talk to mothers who’ve had c-sections
A great way to gain insight into what to expect is to speak to moms who’ve experienced it. But be prepared to get varying responses. If you know of friends who’ve had c-sections ask them about their experience.
- Ask about the pros and cons?
- What was it like?
- Did they elect to have a caesarean birth, or did they need an emergency c-section?
- Do they regret it?
Most moms will be more than willing to share their birth experiences.
3. Attend antenatal classes
A great way to prepare for the birth of your baby and understand more about caesarean sections is to attend antenatal classes. These classes are usually run over 6-weeks by a registered midwife, but retired gynaecologists may run some.
During this eight-week program, you’ll learn everything you need to know about your body’s changes, what to expect once your body goes into labour, and how to look after your baby in the first few weeks after giving birth.
4. Get familiar with the pregnancy section of your library or local bookstore
While some medical aids give expecting moms an ultimate pregnancy and baby guide, you can always visit your local bookstore or library to begin your research. There are also online sites dedicated to tracking your pregnancy and educating you on your birth options.
These books will have a dedicated caesarean section, which will help make your decision easier.
What happens during a c-section?
A c-section is a surgery that your obstetrician has likely performed thousands of times. So don’t worry, you’re in good hands.
Dad or your partner will need to change into hospital scrubs, a hat, and special covers for your shoes. Your birth partner can join you to hold your hand and encourage you during the procedure. You’ll be given a spinal block or epidural before being prepped for delivery.
Your stomach will be cleaned, shaved (if necessary), and washed in an antiseptic solution. A catheter will be placed into your bladder, and sterile swabs will be placed over your stomach.
A screening cloth will be placed between you and the doctor so you can’t see what’s happening, and the area remains sterile. Your doctor will make a small incision above your pubic hairline and pull open the muscle layers to reach your baby. The doctor will suction out the amniotic and get a first glimpse of your baby as he or she emerges from your belly.
Once the umbilical cord is cut, your doctor will gently remove the placenta from your belly and begin closing you up. The procedure takes about ten minutes, with thirty minutes allotted for stitching the wound.
How long is the recovery time for a c-section?
Generally, it takes several weeks for new moms to recover from their c-section, between four and six. While some will tell you they were driving mere days after the surgery, obstetricians advise waiting at least two weeks before getting behind the wheel of a car.
You’ll spend about three days in hospital recovering. You can pick up your baby but avoid any other heavy lifting. And if you’ll be breastfeeding your baby, be sure to use a feeding pillow to rest your baby on. This way, you’re supporting your baby without placing strain on your stitches.
While in hospital, there are two goals you’ll need to achieve. One, getting up and walking about the day after surgery. Two, passing a bowel movement.
What to expect after giving birth via c-section?
You’ll want a shower or bed bath
Giving birth, whether via c-section or natural labour, is messy. Ask your partner or the nursing staff to assist. It’s a great way to relax and freshen up.
You’ll be sore
Remember, you’ve had surgery, and the area around your incision will be sore, but you will be given pain medication to alleviate your discomfort. Do as your doctor prescribes. Overdoing it will only lead to pulled stitches, and you really don’t want to have to redo them.
Wear loose, comfortable pants that don’t chafe the incision and keep a close eye on your wound for signs of infection. You will experience some numbness, pulling, and itching. That’s a normal part of the healing process. If you notice redness or swelling around your wound and experience fever, you might have an infection and require antibiotics.
You’ll need to get up and walk as soon as you can
Believe it or not, walking speeds up your recovery process. So don’t be surprised when the nursing staff in your ward encourage you to get up and get moving. At first, gentle strolls around your room are sufficient exercise. But once your obstetrician gives you the green light, start incorporating longer walks. Just don’t overdo it.
But you can and should do your Kegels right away. Even though you’ve not given birth naturally, the muscles have relaxed during your pregnancy. So strengthening them is vital.
You’ll be hungry
Caring for your baby takes energy and strength. You’d be surprised by how quickly your tank can run low. So make sure you’re eating frequent nutritious meals and drinking plenty of water. Pack nuts, dried fruit, fresh baby carrots, and raisins to snack on during your stay in the ward.
Have you made your decision?
You don’t need to decide now, but as your third trimester progresses, you’ll want to make a decision. You may elect to have a c-section or require one. It really depends on the position of your baby, their size, and your health.
Speak to your obstetrician and see what they advise. If a caesarean is the best option for you, start planning now. Make sure you’ve got a pillow for feeding your baby. Speak to friends and family about helping out with ready-made meals. Talk to your partner about what you’ll need in the days after your surgery.
If you have questions, contact Welwitschia or your Gynaecologist and Obstetrician here.
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