Whether your first cesarean section was emergency or planned due to special reasons, you will most likely decide with your doctor early on whether you will be trying for a vaginal birth after cesarean (commonly referred to as “VBAC”) or will schedule a planned c-section this go around. Preparing for a repeat C section can be stressful, but a few simple tips can help bring some ease to the process. While it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions, following these 10 tips can help ensure that your repeat C section is a successful and healing experience.
10 Tips for a Repeat C-Section
Educate Yourself On The Procedure
A repeat c-section is not the same as a first-time c-section. It is important to understand what is different about a repeat c-section so that it can be carefully planned for. For example, if your first c-section was an emergency cesarean, you may not have remembered all of the steps that were taken to deliver the baby, or some of them may have even been skipped in the process.
And while yes, generally cesareans are pretty similar, repeat c sections can still differ. For instance, the incision made in the uterus for a planned repeat c section is usually larger than the incision made for a first-time c-section. This will generally require additional time and more care when healing a repeat c-section scar. It is also important to talk with your doctor and make sure they have experience performing repeat c-sections.
Staying hydrated for anyone is important. But it’s especially so with having a repeat c section. A well-hydrated body will help improve the elasticity of the uterus so that it can stretch and accommodate the larger incision necessary for a repeat c section. It is also important to stay hydrated during labor (which you may go through even with a repeat c section) to prevent fatigue and exhaustion. To prepare in the days leading up to delivery, have a large water bottle on hand at all times with fresh, clean water, and monitor how much intake.
Prepare Your Bowels
Many women complain of severe constipation following a cesarean section, simply because of all of the different pain medications given to you either intravenously, or in pill form during recovery. Properly hydrating yourself throughout your pregnancy, and especially in the weeks leading up to your repeat c section will help with this post-delivery constipation. Speaking of poop, adding in additional fiber throughout your pregnancy may prove useful for post-op, as well as possibly being proactive about taking stool softeners (talk to your doctor first about any supplement or medication.)
Eat Healthy Food
Be sure to maintain your energy levels by eating healthy. Make sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet (great to combat that constipation), as well as healthy proteins like lean meats and fish. Eating healthy will help make sure that you have the energy to tackle any physical challenges that may arise after the repeat c section. Additionally, it is important to avoid eating anything with caffeine or sugar in the days before the surgery, as these can lead to dehydration.
Choose Your “Last Meal” Wisely
Oftentimes, women experience severe nausea during the actual surgery. While you may not be able to avoid vomiting during the procedure, keep your “last meal” prior to your fast on the safe side. Ask yourself, “Would I want to see this meal again?” While your answer will probably always be “no,” you may wish to avoid certain meals and spices. Even though you may not have experienced vomiting during your last procedure, every single surgery is different. Better safe than sorry.
Pack Your Hospital Bag Accordingly
Typically, women who have c-sections are required to remain in the hospital for a minimum of 2-5 days post-op. Keep your underwear selection in mind, and resort back to the preference of your first c-section whether it be high waisted to go above your scar, or low and loose fitting. Nursing pajamas and gowns are also a great choice, and will allow the nurse easy access to your incision.
READ MORE: C-Section Recovery Essentials
Start Early by Strengthening Your Core Muscles
It seems as if less emphasis is placed on prenatal specific exercises when a known repeat c-section will be occurring. However, it’s been shown that women with toned abdominal muscles have the ability to recover more quickly. Talk to your healthcare provider about their recommendations for a suitable exercise routine. The most popular throughout pregnancies are yoga, pilates, swimming and ballet-style dancing classes.
Discuss Your Birth Plan with Your Doctor
Maybe you didn’t know this information the first time around, but you can have a birth plan with a repeat c section. Some things you may wish to discuss with your doctor could be:
- Doing a spinal versus an epidural
- Repeat C section doula usage
- Operating room music options
- The birth and cord cutting
- Placenta Options (such as encapsulation, or taking it with you, versus discarding as medical waste.)
- Immediate skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding options in the O.R.
- The after-birth baby plan
Just because your birth will be performed in an operating room, doesn’t mean you should have to settle for anything less than a perfect and serene birth experience. Don’t go into this delivery with the mindset that you have to “give up” certain luxuries because you’re in a sterile, surgical environment. Practitioners still want you to be comfortable, and are very open to talking about your concerns, as well as your wishes for your ideal birth. There may be “rules” that you have to adhere to, but you’ll never know until you ask.
READ MORE: Preparing for a C-Section
Prepare Yourself (and Your Partner!) Mentally
As you already know, even though you’re having a baby through a cesarean rather than vaginally, it doesn’t make you any less of a mother. Your first c-section may have been unplanned, leading to unwanted feelings of disappointment in your first delivery. You are now given the gift of having 9 months to get yourself in the proper mindset this time. You can be proactive with your doctor regarding your wishes, and plan accordingly for help during your recovery. You and your partner can discuss feelings, and it can be a peaceful repeat c section, rather than a scary one.
Make Sure to Rest
It is important to be well-rested for a repeat c-section. Being well-rested helps ensure that you will have the energy to do what needs to be done, both before and after the procedure. Make sure to get adequate sleep in the days before the repeat c section, so that you are able to focus and concentrate during the surgery. It is also important to rest after the surgery as this helps minimize swelling and bruising.
While your first c-section may have been unplanned, you’re going into your repeat c section with experience. Following some or all of these 10 tips can help make it a successful and healing experience. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to take the necessary steps to prepare your body and mind, such as doing pelvic floor exercises and talking with a therapist who specializes in birth. Additionally, it is important to talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking, create a birth plan that is tailored for a repeat C-section, and ensure that your surgical team is aware of your previous surgery.
CONNECT WITH DAILY MOM
💖 NEWSLETTER: DAILY READS IN YOUR INBOX 💖
Sign up to receive our picks for the best things to do, see and buy so you can relax and focus on more important tasks! Let us help you be the best version of yourself you can be!