If your first pregnancy resulted in a c-section, you might be debating on how to deliver baby number two. While the reasons to try for a VBAC or go for a repeat c-section are personal, sometimes it’s helpful to hear about another momma’s journey through the “repeat-c” child-birthing process.
A bit over three years ago I had my son, Kysen, via c-section. The experience was great with a few exceptions. First, the anesthesiologist had to make several attempts to administer my spinal block–which was the scariest part of the operation. And second, about 4 hours after the operation I was throwing up through the night, an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.
I just had my repeat c-section last month and I’m happy to report that the few inconveniences I suffered during my first c-section were greatly reduced! Here are a list of my tips to make your “repeat c” even better than your first!
Planning the Date and Time of Your Repeat C-Section
Once you have chosen to do a repeat over a VBAC, you should decide with your OBGYN when you would like to have your c-section. Typically, barring some medically-necessary reason, you would be able to schedule anytime after 39 weeks. You should also arrange ahead for family or friends to stay with your first born as you will be at the hospital for 3 to 4 days. Think about the day of the week you’d like to schedule and make sure your OBGYN has availability in her schedule. We went for a Saturday so my husband wouldn’t have to take off from work those two days and grandma wouldn’t have to trouble with taking Kysen to preschool. Baby was exactly 39 weeks and I didn’t want to risk waiting longer and potentially going into labor. I’m also a slut for numbers and dates and I specifically wanted her to be born on July 28th as we would share more birthday digits in common.
Another important consideration is the time of day. My first c-section happened by surprise after my 38-week check up at my OBGYNs. Concerned about my preeclampsia and high blood pressure, he had me go to the hospital for a stress test for the baby. After an ultrasound revealed that my son’s amniotic fluid was borderline-low, my OBGYN decided we would have the c-section then instead of 39 weeks as we had arranged. My son was born at 7 PM and this made for a psychologically longer recovery as I was not able to stand until the next day. With my repeat c-section we scheduled the operation for 9 AM so I would be walking that same day. Because my first c-section was a surprise, I had eaten throughout the day, which later led to more vomiting after the anesthesia. When you plan for your c-section in the morning you will be fasting from midnight so your stomach will be empty and thus reduce the vomiting if you do have a reaction.
Disclose Your Prior C-Section History
By letting my health care team know about my prior c-section experience they were able to creatively find proactive solutions to ease or reduce the unpleasant side effects I experienced with my first c-section. Instead of reacting to my problems as the staff did with my first c-section, they were anticipating what would happen and giving me medicines to counteract undesirable side effects and get ahead of these problems before they came up again. The difference in patient experience was immense!
Because I had vomiting with my first c-section my anesthesiologist gave me an antibiotic with the spinal block to combat that side-effect while nurses administered Zofran (an anti-nausea drug) immediately after I was in recovery. When the Zofran was not working as well as they liked they spoke to me about using a higher grade drug and educated me on the potential side effects. I decided to wait it out on the Zofran but I ended up going for the heavier drug later in the day. By that same night my nausea was gone.
Be Vocal About Your Concerns or Anxieties: Anesthesiologists and Spinal Blocks
At my 39-week visit, I spoke to my OBGYN about my husband being able to be with me when the spinal block was administered. I explained to him what happened with my first spinal block and let him know that it caused me a lot of anxiety. He told me that most anesthesiologist don’t like to have the father present because they don’t want to have to deal with the father getting sick, fainting etc…. My OBGYN said he would allow it if my husband was in front of me, just like a nurse would be during the administering of the block. He also told me it depended on the anesthesiologist and the head nurse on the operation and that he would, “Probably get yelled at.”
On the day of my repeat C-section I told the head nurse about this request and that my doctor had “okayed” it. When she told my anesthesiologist about it he said, “Absolutely not.” Needless to say I was bummed and more anxious, but just for a minute. Because my request started the conversation, the anesthesiologist took the extra time to explain everything to me and evaluate my back. It only took him one “feel” of my back to let me know why I had such a bad experience during my first c-section. Apparently my spine is set back further than normal and is therefore harder to locate. The other issue is that the standard needle used for spinal blocks is not long enough to get to the area of my spine needed to administer the block. My anesthesiologist was able to get the longer needle and practice with me how he wanted me to position my back and where her would insert the needle during the operation.
It was this thorough explanation of what went wrong combine with a “dress rehearsal” on how the procedure would go this time that eased my anxiety about this part of the operation and led to a better c-section experience over all.
C-Section Recovery Tips: The Importance of Walking & What is the Best C-Section Recovery Belt?
Probably the best advice I ever got, that applies to any c-section (first or repeat), is to stand up when the nurses tell you to (even if it hurts) and walk as much as you possibly can. My sister gave me this advice and it worked wonders with my first c-section as I was bending over and walking around as normal after just a week and a half.
With my repeat c-section being earlier in the morning I was able to walk a bit that same night. In the next three days at the hospital I would walk the maternity ward at least 3 times a day and walk to get my own water. Fight through that initial uncomfortable feeling (you know that feeling like all your insides are going to fall onto the floor!) and walk as much as you can at the hospital while your pain is still being managed by the heavy narcotics.
Another great idea is to get yourself a compression belt for after your operation. I decided to go with the AbdoMend support belt and I HIGHLY recommend it. This belt is not like common postpartum compression belts because it helps to support your c-section scar and can be used right after the operation! It is made of a very soft stretchy fabric and comes in a large enough size to fit a one day post-pregnancy belly! The best part of this belt is the extra support strap that is placed right across the pubic bone where your c-section scar is. This belt helped me feel so much more comfortable when I walked at the hospital and I think it even helped my scar heal faster. I only wish I had this for my first operation! It is expensive and it gets stretched out pretty quickly so I got another belt to help with slimming my post-baby belly.
Repeat C-Sections Don’t Hurt as Much!
The last bit of good news for your repeat c-section mommas out there: your second c-section will not hurt as much! This comes straight from my OBGYN, who explained to me that all of your nerve endings were already destroyed during the first operation. For your repeat c-section your OBGYN will be reopening the “dead” scar tissue, so no new nerve endings will be damaged.
Please let me know if you have any other questions about your second c-section and feel free to comment about your own c-section experience!