What does a c-section feel like? Does it hurt?

I’m a big fan of the TV show, First Dates. I lap up that feeling of anticipation as the lady sits at the bar waiting for the guy to arrive. Will he be funny? Will he be smartly dressed or maybe more low-key? Will he talk about his ex the entire time?? 

Her high heels tap nervously on the bar stool. She glances towards a reassuring Fred. (Fred is the best, isn’t he?)

Imagining what your c-section will be like, is kind of like that, only 1000 times more. The anticipation! The unknowns!

How will it feel?? Will it hurt??

Well, my dearest, I’ll tell you. 

I hadn’t planned for my first c-section, and so most of the wondering about how it would feel happened as they wheeled me into theatre. That was a lot of wondering to cram into 30 mins. 

By the time I was there, I was already numb to levels I didn’t know were even possible (I had had a lot of epidural, like, really a lot!). I could feel very little aside from my face.

(Epidural numbness even on its own is a strange sensation – like when the dentist numbed your gums that time, except now it’s all over your body). Weird, yes, but numbness is what you want before a surgery! You will definitely have anaesthetic too, don’t worry.

Even though I was numb everywhere, I remember lying there and a feeling almost like someone drawing on my tummy with a pencil and then, as my son was born, a strong feeling of pulling and tugging on my abdomen – strong enough to shift my body back and forth a little on the bed. Think of it like someone has tied a rope to your tummy and is yanking it this way then the other. Not painful, just a very surreal tug-o-war on your tum.

The room was pretty cold also. To be honest, I’m one of those people that feels cold during an Italian summer, but that draughty hospital gown is another level of ‘not at all cosy’.

It was also pretty uncomfortable in general. There were wires here, there, everywhere. I was hooked up to a few different monitors and fluids. The bed itself was hard and the lights and sounds were harsh. There were a lot of people checking, monitoring, operating, checking again! Let’s face it, it was no night at the Ritz.

Then, there were the emotions. So many feelings all pulsing through me at once. Overwhelm – yep! Worry – yep! Excitement – yep! Tearfulness – yep! Fear – yep! Gratitude – yep! Tiredness – yep! Anticipation – yep, yep, yep!

They say ‘a healthy baby is all that matters’ and of course, a healthy baby is crucial. But even though my son was born healthy and I was super grateful for that, the whole experience took me some time to process. I simply wasn’t prepared for it. I had no tools to help me deal with the physical or emotional side of the birth or the recovery and neither did my birth partner. 

Fast forward to my second birth, this time a planned c-section. This time I was prepared. Not just because I had had a c-section before – that experience alone wasn’t going to help me navigate an entirely different pregnancy and birth.

I had discovered hypnobirthing and positive birth prep and the amazing tools they offer in making c-sections positive, empowering and yes, actually enjoyable! I had done my research on whether a c-section or vaginal birth was right for my unique pregnancy, I had had meeting after meeting with my care providers, using all of the hypnobirthing tools to get the right information.

As with everything in life, the right prep pays off, my friend. You wouldn’t rock up to a client presentation without having prepared, and it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to do that with birth either. Take it from me – I learnt the hard way!

The experience of my second c-section was a world away from my first. All that prep under my belt, I felt confident and reassured. I knew my rights, my choices and the impact of my decisions. I had a ginormous tool box at my disposal for decision-making, keeping calm, keeping comfortable, keeping informed and keeping in control. I was in my happy place for this birth and so was my birth partner.

So if you’re reading this and are wondering what your planned – or even unplanned – c-section will feel like, check out the BirthSure FREE GUIDE to cesaerean birth ’10 things no-one tells you about your planned (or unplanned!) c-section’. Download it for free now!

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