C-section smackdown: emergency versus scheduled

When I was waiting for my scheduled C-section, I spent a lot of time wondering if it would be similiar to my first C-section.

Knowing what’s ahead might have made it easier, or it might have made it harder, because I would be pscyhing myself up and getting nervous about going under the knife.

So this post is for everyone who might be having a scheduled C-section — or has the possibly of having an emergency C-section (which is anyone) — and wants to know the differences between them.

Here we go — everything you wanted to know about C-sections!


Epidural: With our son, I was in labour for 17 hours (and pushed for three hours) before getting my somewhat-emergency C-section. I’d had an epidural after about five or six hours of labour, but it unfortunately (damn you, stupid resident) only worked on ONE SIDE. Of course, they fixed that before starting the C-section, and then I felt fantastic. No pain, barely any feeling at all. Awesomesauce!

Spinal: For our daughter’s planned C-section, I was given a spinal instead of an epidural. It was the same kind of method — lean forward, hunch your back, needle goes in (doesn’t hurt). But unlike an epidural, a spinal starts to work right away. My butt felt numb as I was lying down, just minutes later. Unfortunately, in my case, the spinal wasn’t quite as effective as it should have been — I’m going to sue my stupid lower back, because apparently shit is messed up in there. I felt a lot more tugging and pulling than I had with my first C-section, but that could have just been because it didn’t take full effect.


With the epidural for C-section #1, I threw up once during the actual operation, but not once afterwards. Woohoo!

With the spinal for C-section #2, I didn’t throw up at all in the operating room OR in the recovery room, and was very proud of myself. However, I did throw up for a few hours once I was in my room. Was it the spinal’s fault, or the fault of whatever other drugs? Not sure. But I do know that throwing up with a brand-new C-section incision is THE WORST.


With C-section #1 (when I had an epidural), it took at least a full hour in the recovery room before I could even wiggle my toes — maybe longer! I just lay there feeling absolutely nothing below my chest, and trying to move my toes to no avail. They gave me Tylenol or something similar when I first got to the recovery room, and by the time the freezing had worn off, the Tylenol was doing its job. I continued to just take Tylenol and Ibuprofen during my hospital stay — every four hours or something like that — and for the first 4-5 days at home. That was it.

With C-section #2, I already mentioned that the spinal didn’t fully work on me. I could easily move my legs while I was still in the operating room, and so by the time I got to the recovery room, I felt EVERYTHING. The worst was when the nurses would push on my stomach — I think they do it to check your bleeding or your uterus or something. It was agonizing! That’s when people finally started believing me that the spinal hadn’t really worked that well, and the Tylenol was doing nothing. They gave me a shot or two of morphine, and that didn’t work either (I have an intolerance to it, as I discovered during an orthpedic surgery last year). So they ended up giving me oxycodone, and it did the job. I was nervous about becoming addicted to it, but I only had it sporadically over the first two days (along with Ibuprofen) and then switched over to just Tylenol and Ibuprofen. Just like the first time, I was done with it all by a week postpartum.


I didn’t really see much of a difference in my mobility, when I compare how I felt after each C-section. The first time you walk to the bathroom — about 12 hours after surgery (or at least it was for me) — you feel a little unsteady and dizzy, but it’s not bad. You get to sit on an actual toilet (with a, um, cathedar still stuck up your pee-business) and it feels great to brush your teeth and wash your face.

I did make more of a point of walking after my second (scheduled) C-section, though. I went on walks for fresh water from down the hall, and to just meander around, and it felt good. After my first C-section, I’d walked around our room during the hospital stay, but that was about it — and then it was REALLY tiring/dizzy-ing to walk through the hospital to come home. So this time I was much smarter about it, and it paid off.


As gross as it is to talk about, I have to talk about it. My experience in this, um, category, was the same with both C-sections. My only advice is to take anything and everything they offer you — namely Colace (a stool softener) and Magnolox (a mild laxtive). Seriously — take it all! I spent the first few days after each C-section wondering if I was horribly broken inside, because nothing was happening. I felt crampy and uncomfortable, and couldn’t help but picture my intestines tangled together and knotted with a forgotten surgical glove or something.

So, in conclusion, take everything they offer! Eat bran muffins. Drink tepid (not ice!) water. Drink lots of hot tea (decaf if you’re breastfeeding, of course). One doctor even suggested chewing gum, as it’s supposed to stimulate everything down there. Eventually, you will poo, and it will be fine — it’s just the waiting/discomfort beforehand that is kind of the shits pits.

One Comment on “C-section smackdown: emergency versus scheduled

  1. Sounds like you are not a fan of those drugs or they are not a fan of you! No fun! Would there be an alternative for next time around, since you had not-so-pleasant experiences with those options?

    The last part is true even with natural birth. Especially when there are stitches involved. Great advice for any mama-to-be!


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