10 Things No One Tells You About C-Sections

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*This post was originally written in 2019.

I had about 15 minutes to mentally prepare for my emergency c-section.  It’s a lot to process.  I was about to meet my daughter – yay! I was minutes away from not being pregnant anymore – hallelujah! I was going to give birth through my abdominal wall and I was going to be awake for that major surgery – um, what? 

I had exactly zero idea what to expect. I was even googling “c section recovery” as the nurses prepped me for the OR. Not my proudest moment, but there you have it.

Here is what I wish I’d known. Some of the funny, quirky, wonderful things that happen when you have a c-section.

1. This is another day at the office for everyone in the OR.

You are getting wheeled in, perhaps under frightening circumstances, and the CALM in the room feels odd.  There will be conversations about what they had for breakfast, or what sounds good for lunch, or something from a TV show the night before. This is okay. Let this comfort you, they do this ALL the time.

2. The sheet to keep you from seeing things you can’t un-see is RIGHT THERE.

Like, inches from your face. It’s practically neck level.  I don’t know why, but I was stunned by how close it seemed to me. In pictures I’d seen it looks much further away. But I assure you that it is up close and personal.

3. It is very strange to not be able to see OR feel your entire lower body.  

I definitely had a moment where I felt like a floating head & arms and it was very unnerving.

4. Speaking of arms, they’re going to momentarily strap yours down.

Not to worry, they’ll release you just as soon as that baby is out and you probably won’t even realize that they’ve done that. See #2 re: sheet in yo’ face.

5. You better hope your OB has good taste in music.

Like I said, it’s another day in the office. And why wouldn’t you be rocking out to your favorite pandora station while doing a little c-section action? My daughter was born to these sweet words from the Eagles “Hotel California.”

(I still have mixed feelings about that one.)

6. The anesthesiologist is your BFF.

If you have the opportunity to meet him or her pre-op then I suggest just laying on the compliments right away. “Those scrubs are really your color!” is always a good start. And why start the kiss-up fest early? Because when you are laying prone and cannot feel your body or move your arms, this is the person you have on your team. This person is basically part doctor, part life coach once you enter the OR. Case in point, this was the actual conversation I had with mine:

“I’m hot.”

Anesthesiologist tells the nurse I’m hot. Immediately a cool compress is laid upon my forehead.

“I hate the towel you just put on me.”

Cold compress removed.

“I’m nauseated.”

Woosh. Immediate medicine for that.

“I’m dizzy.”

Woosh. More meds.

“I can’t breathe.”

“Kelly, you’re talking, that means you can breathe.”


7. The Pinch Test.  

This is a biggie. I was super-duper paranoid that I was going to feel something during surgery.  So when my doctor pinched some skin and asked me if I could feel it, my knee jerk reaction was to say yes. So they upped the medicine (Anesthesiologist BFF coming in handy again). She waited a few moments then asked again if I could feel it. I said yes. More meds. Finally she asked a THIRD TIME and I said yes and she just said “No, you can’t.” Because I guess whatever she was doing would have been incredibly painful and I really was just feeling the pressure, not the pain.

8. “You’ll Feel A Lot of Pressure.”

This is the understatement of the century. Again, the fact that you can’t actually FEEL your lower body but CAN feel the pressure is so bizarre. Even if my daughter hadn’t been crying as she was born, I would have known instantly the moment she was out. Because I could exhale again.

9. You have to wear a hair net.

Yes. You’ll give birth feeling just a little bit like a lunch lady. It’s all very glamorous and lovely.

10. You Still Gave Birth.

That matters. And if you had a c-section – I want you to remind yourself of that. So I’m going to say it again. You. Still. Gave. Birth. For a really long time after G was born, I said, “When I had her” or “When she was born”.  I didn’t take ownership of the fact that my body had birthed a baby. No, it wasn’t done the good ol’ fashioned way. No, nothing immediately following her birth went as I would have liked. But yes. Yes, I still gave birth.

What do you wish you’d known about a c-section?



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Kelly Guinn
Kelly is a working momma to her daughter, Genevieve (2014) and son, J.W. (2016). She’s an Edmond native, but left the state to get a degree in journalism from Texas Christian University (Go Frogs!) and work in Dallas for a few years. She moved back “home” to Oklahoma after meeting her husband and is now so thrilled to be raising her children right where she grew up! When she’s not working or playing with her kiddos, she’s making note of some of motherhood’s (mis)adventures and celebrating mediocrity on her blog –The OK Momma.


  1. I remember the counting. Counting sponges, counting instruments, counting everything. The only reason I know they were counting those things in particular was because my hubs was watching those things you can’t unsee. (I was busy having a similar convo with my drug dealing BFF.)

    • I wish I had known that the recovery takes longer than a vaginal delivery. You may not have to labor before your c-section, but don’t let anyone say you got off easy. The first 48 hours after are pretty uncomfortable and make up for the lack of labor pains.

      Unlike you, I wasn’t able to feel the moment my son was delivered. My nurse said, “He’s almost here.” A minute or two later, my doctor said, ” He’s almost here.” Yet I was still absolutely shocked when I heard his first cry. There was a disconnect between my mind and body. It was very anticlimactic and didn’t seem real somehow. I wish I had asked them to count down or something.

      Finally, depending on the type of incision you have, it’s sometimes possible to deliver subsequent babies vaginally (called a VBAC – vaginal birth after cesarean.) I was very pleased with my VBAC experience and recommend that others consider it if their doctor allows.

  2. Oh my! I can’t believe they strapped your arms down. They did not do that when I had my c-sections. That would have driven me crazy. I had my camera in hand and was taking pictures and recording everything.

  3. I remember getting to the OR and my OB cursing because he forgot his iPod (this was 7 years ago). So, he put on the radio, must have been an 80’s station. My daughter was born to “Celebrate” by Kool & The Gang. Cheesy….but certainly fit the occasion!

    One thing to add to the list …… Nobody tells you how much lower your toilets are at home compared to those in the hospital. Wow…. And the absence of a safety bar to help ease yourself up and down made it that much more obvious.

  4. I was unprepared for how shaky I was which they kept telling me was completely normal. I could barely talk through the shakes and kept biting my tongue. They said it could be the drugs or hormones but I felt like I was seizing!

    My first was emergency csection and I already had an epidural in. For my second I had a scheduled csection and they did a spinal which was totally weird. I felt no pressure when the were getting her out. I was so confused when they said she was here because I felt absolutely nothing the whole time. Lifting me from surgery bed to wheely bed felt soooo crazy!

  5. I had two emergency c sections. The 2nd was suppose to be a VBAC but #2 also thought he would follow #1’s way out. This was a great list and so true. The one that was spot on for me was #6. I LOVED my anesthesiologist! Seriously it is a good thing I was so weak because I might have grabbed him an insisted he come home with us 🙂

  6. Yes! I don’t remember the music now but I think they even asked if I had a preference. I remember the counting & I tried to focus on that instead of being scared. #10 is still hard for me, and she is over 2. I wish I would have made my husband do skin to skin since I couldn’t, but it was whirlwind night!

  7. I wish they’d told me that sometimes c-section babies don’t cry for awhile. That freaked me out so bad that I moved my upper body out of position trying to get to my daughter and was put completely under in a matter of seconds. I didn’t hold my daughter until she was 5 hours old and I finally was awake and coherent enough.

  8. My most unfavorite Csection moment was laying completely and utterly naked, hugely twin pregnant and naked, on the table. And I could see my own reflection on the metal light fixture above me, alllll of me.

  9. I remember a saw doll, yes a male nurse had it sitting by a monitor and i flipped, they gave me more medicine to calm down and told him that wasn’t funny and rushed him out of the room… My husband wishes he waited to look.. They said you can look now he’s here and he saw all of me sitting out of my body and nurses had to help him out and keep him from passing out

  10. I remember when the doc was prepping me I could see everything in the metal (light) above me and I kept thinking I don’t really want to see all of that. The ended up moving the angle of the light and I couldn’t see anything anymore!

  11. I also didn’t know that walking would be an incredible work out after a section. That, coupled with the fact that when I stretched after getting a few hours of rest (in a row), I busted a couple stitches, was a major unknown.

    I was completely unprepared for the shakes, as someone mentioned. The meds also made me severely nauseous. When I needed to vomit on the table, I thought I was literally going to die during childbirth because I couldn’t think of how to throw up without bending over … major bust.

  12. Not to mention the shaking afterwards. That was awful. I kept trying to “not” shake and the nurse kept telling me to “let it out” because it is normal to shake. I was scared to hold my son because I was shaking like a leaf. Take it easy. C-section is a big deal. I now know how much we use out abdominal area and muscles for day-to-day stuff.

  13. […] tagged in the comments of birth videos. And I love them ALL. Give me a homebirth, a hospital birth, a c-section – doesn’t matter! I cry. Every. Single. Time. It’s that one moment that gets captured so […]

  14. I was unprepared for the feeling afterward that my stitches would somehow split and my innards would simply fall out of me. Thank God my BFF was a nurse and came over immediately bringing some spandex spanx type undies which helped SO much more than that stupid pillow they tell you to hold against yourself when you cough! I was also unaware that post partum depression is much more likely after a c-section and when I didn’t sleep for DAYS because I was terrified something horrible would happen to the baby, again BFF came to my rescue! I suppose because she was a mom and also a nurse I had no problem handing over the baby to her while I took a nap whereas I was so out of my head I didn’t trust any of the men in the house to be able to keep her alive while I slept!


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