April is Cesarean Awareness Month. Let’s be honest: April is probably One Thousand and One Things Awareness Month, but I can write a post about c-sections, so this is the one I’m going with. I’ve got them on my mind because I had one with my first child and have t-minus about four months to decide how I will deliver my second. Not helping my decision was an article I read a couple of weeks ago that was more-or-less a sophisticated click bait. Not your typical trashy lead to get you to click on some series of pictures with a thousand ads and other links surrounding it on each page (which I could waste an entire weekend on). But, rather, a seemingly academic lead with a dumb or pointless article that was disappointing at best. It was an article about c-section rates in America and WHO recommendations. But it was a very mixed-up retelling of the WHO recommendations and statistics about c-section rates among different countries. On one hand, the article was lambasting the excessive use of c-sections in America (though we are apparently not as excessive as Brazil), while on the other hand, the article also mentions that low-income countries with less access to c-sections (specifically, a rate less than 10%) have poorer outcomes for mothers and babies. I guess the point, not made very clearly, is that there is a ‘sweet spot’ for c-section rates that reflects proper medical attention, below which is dangerous for maternal health, and above which there is no appreciable connection to health. And then some discussion about elective c-sections, with a passing comment from a doctor that the rate of elective c-sections is around 2-3%. Of course, the comments focused on how ridiculous women or “girls” (a terms used by some commenters) are for electing to have c-sections – as if that is the reason for a higher rate in America. Why am I reading the comments again?! Stop it! In any event, it all left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a big bundle of conflict in my stomach. Thankfully, a more positive take on c-section deliveries appeared in my FB newsfeed and if you’re thinking about this, too, you should read it.
I’m not sure what I’ll decide (and frankly, even if I decide, the final outcome will not necessarily be in my control). If you’re in the same boat, read this post by fellow blogger Allison. All I’d like to do here is offer three pieces of advice if you do deliver by cesarean.
#1 – Expect Some Serious Foot Bloating
I am one of those unfortunate souls whose soles are already big and grew an additional size during my first pregnancy. I thought they were swollen pretty bad toward the end of my pregnancy, but after the c-section: O.M.G. I had to cut my one pair of shoes that fit my what I thought to be biggest-they-could-ever-be feet just to fit. It took awhile to get back into the size they had grown into during pregnancy, but eventually, it happened.
#2 – Cut the Pain Meds if You Can
My sister-in-law gave me this piece of advice, after experiencing a c-section a few years prior. Now, this is major surgery, so if you need it, take it. But they drugged me up pretty badly for the post-surgery period to the point that I felt very sick, and we had to have our relatives leave. The nurses cut down the meds, and I asked that the future doses of whatever it was they were giving to me be cut in half and I felt better (physically) very quickly.
#3 – Get Up As Soon As You Can
Both my previously mentioned sister-in-law and a good friend recommended this to me. The nurses at my hospital also did. Of course, you take it slowly and wait for the green light to move around from your doctors and/or nurses. But when you get the green light, take it. You will feel tremendously better once you start – very slowly – moving.
If you are going to give birth by cesarean delivery, I hope these little tidbits are helpful. If you’re one of the 30+ % of American mothers who have delivered by cesarean, feel free to add any other advice in the comments!