What to Expect During a C-Section (Plus Recovery Tips)8 min read

What to Expect During a C-Section (Plus Recovery Tips)8 min read

I gave birth via C-section and I am proud of it!

After my doctor announced that we will be doing a c-section delivery for my daughter, I started crying like a child.

It was my fault. I couldn’t push. I will never have any more natural births.

These were my thoughts at that moment.

I remember vocalizing a few words to my nurse and she comforted me, quickly stating that a c-section now does not mean c-section in the future.

I laid there under the bright fluorescent lights in the labor room, exposed, anxious, worried, and flashing in and out of my out-of-it state.

However, I will share everything I remember and felt during my c-section and the birth of my first baby.

If you are an expecting mom, firstly, please relax!

Secondly, I am not trying to scare or intimidate you.

I will only share my experience and what I felt because it is good to be informed.

I read everything and anything about labor, pain management, and delivery. However, I never prepared myself for a c-section birth and was completely unaware of what to expect (except that c-section involves cutting mom’s belly to bring the baby into this world).

Everyone woman’s c-section experience is different however, here is an idea of what to expect before, during, and after a c-section delivery.


What To Expect During a C-Section


Preparation is the first order of business.

After the doctor determined that I needed an emergency c-section (because I could no longer push after 30 plus hours in labor), the room suddenly got even brighter and many more nurses scurried in to get things ready.

I was laying in bed with an epidural. A nurse asked me to shift beds – from my current stand-still bed to the wheeling bed for the operating room.

It was rather difficult to shift my body from one bed to another because my lower half was still numb from the epidural. With this move, I also slipped into the surgery gown and hat.

After moving, the nurses made sure all my IVs were secure as she added a catheter.

Then they wheeled me into the operating room.

In the operating theater, the anesthesiologist explained the c-section procedure briefly and checked to make sure my lower body was numb before the doctors began. (I already had an epidural from earlier so I am not sure if I received any other form of anesthesia before the surgery)

[Related: Everything you need to know about c-section anesthesia]


A big blue drape-like curtain was pulled across my chest creating a wall between the doctors and me. I was laying there staring at the lights, really hoping that it would not hurt and that I could see what was going down below.

The later ever happened!

The operating room was freezing, therefore, the nurses covered my chest with heavy blankets to keep me warm.

The Procedure

There were several nurses, an anesthesiologist and 2 doctors (including my OB) performing the c-section.

I could hear them talking, with each other and with me.

In my half nervous, half drowsy state, I managed to give a few responses trying my best to stay alert, so I would not miss the birth of my baby.

There was no pain or any other feeling in my lower body, however, I could feel a lot of jabbing, digging, tugging, and shaking of my body. I guess this is because the doctors are trying to get the baby in position and out of me 😊

Several minutes after being wheeled into the theater, my baby was here. The doctors held her above the curtain, so I could see her before the nurses took her for clean-up and inspection.

I couldn’t help but cry and I remember extending my arm attempting to reach for her as the nurses checked and cleaned her.

Meanwhile, the doctors stitched me up and minutes later they announced that everything was successful and that I will soon be moved downstairs where I would hold and breastfeed my baby!

My eyes were focused on my baby, but I could feel the nurses washing, wiping and cleaning me down under. After about 30 minutes or so, I was wheeled out of the operating room with my little girl in my arms.

[Related: C-Section Procedure]


Recovery at the hospital

After I was moved out of the theater into a recovery room, the nurses continued to work on me. They cleaned me even more, and since I was bleeding, lifted my body, propping changing pads and pads down below.

All this time, I held my daughter, staring, breastfeeding, and just enjoying my moment with her.

My lower body remained numb for several hours after the c-section.

During this time, the nurses changed me, wiped me, and undressed/dressed me every few hours.

I was pumped with a couple different kinds of killers – via IV on the first day – then tablets as each day passed.

When the pain medication wore off, I felt immense pain in my lower belly. It was difficult to move, or sit up, and I kept the hospital bed elevated to help me half-sit so I could eat, breastfeed my baby, etc.

My body felt heavy, sore, and exhausted. I was not allowed to shower for the first 2 days after the c-section. My wonderful nurses cleaned me, changed me, and gave me everything in bed.

On the 3rd day, after the nurses removed my catheter, I took a shower on my own and cleaned myself thoroughly.

This is when your hospital bag full of goodies will come in handy!

Shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, I used everything and anything I could.

My incision was glued so the nurses advised that I avoid soaping that area only.

The first shower after the c-section feels heavenly! Seriously! 😊

Thankfully, I did not have any complications, therefore my recovery went on smoothly. I walked more after the shower, and even though I was still in pain, I felt better than I did on the first day.

The nurses continued to check on my vaginal bleeding and monitored my vitals and pain level. They also asked about bowel movements, number of gasses passed, pee sessions, etc.

Trust me, discussing all this and more becomes very normal!

Until I began to move around, my legs were wrapped with a compression device to improve blood circulation and avoid blood clots. (the device kinda feels like a knee-high boot)

I was at the hospital for 5 days total; 3 days post c-section and 2 days before.

Even though the speed of recovery depends from woman to woman, c-section is a major surgery and until you receive a clean bill of health, it is advisable to take it slow and let your body heal inside and out!


Recovery at home

C-section is a major surgery, albeit the happy kind but it still is a surgery.

In addition to the c-section incision, you will feel everything a woman feels after giving birth vaginally. Exhaustion, bleeding, pain everywhere, breast pain and engorgement, and much more.

Here are some post c-section recovery tips:

  1. Give yourself a break – even if you feel much better after getting home, try and take it easy. 

  2. Use all the help you can get. Lifting the baby alone, walking up/down stairs, and driving is not recommended by the doctors. Not only because of the surgery but also because your pain medications can cause drowsiness making it unsafe to perform these tasks.

  3. Stool softeners and pain medications will be your best friend.

  4. Sitting up in bed and moving will be painful, therefore, seek help when attempting these, or try rolling/pushing up instead of a quick sit up.

  5. Monitor your body temperature, and anything above 100 degrees should be reported to the doctor.

  6. Eat a healthy and protein filled diet.

  7. Do not try to exercise for the first 6-8 weeks (this is how long the c-section usually takes to heal).

  8. Your body will be very sore – I mean come on, you just gave birth – so take warm showers, use heating pads, and rest as much as possible (avoid baths to avoid an infection of the c-section site).

  9. Keep the c-section incision area dry and check for infection, redness, and swelling.

  10. Use a belly band or girdle to enhance back and belly support.

  11. Embrace granny panties and extra thick pads – you will still bleed for several weeks and tampons are not advisable.

  12. Coughing, sneezing, and laughing will hurt so put a pillow against your belly while doing that.

  13. Get help while breastfeeding, especially if you are sitting up while doing it.

  14. Prepare for postpartum recovery before the baby arrives. 

[Related: How to Survive The First Few Weeks with a New Baby]


So there you have it mamas! I hope this will help you.

I just wanted to throw this out there.

I faced several snide comments after people knew I delivered via c-section. They were hurtful and mean, but also stupid on the commenters part. 

If you have a birth plan ready but for some reason you end up with a c-section (like I did), do not be disheartened. At the end of your pregnancy, all that matters is a healthy, bouncing, smiling baby. It sounds like a cliche because many people say this, but it’s the truth.

The method of delivery is not important; a safe delivery for both moms and babies are 🙂

So chin up, and enjoy your baby! <3


Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on my own experience. Please consult your doctor or OB for additional details. 

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