We all assume, especially first time around, that we will have a natural birth if your pregnancy is all going well. While this will hopefully be true for you, it's worth doing some background reading about c-sections just in case you are one of the 25% of women who give birth this way.
Even if a caesarean is planned then you should still draw up a birth plan. There are certain factors you will have control over and by asserting control, you can be more involved in the birth of your baby.
Things to take to hospital
In addition to all the stuff that your new baby will need, take these things for yourself to make life a little easier in hospital after a c-section:
Snacks - It is usual to be "Nil by Mouth" prior to an elective caesarean, (though an emergency caesarean can still be performed if you have eaten). Take snacks for when you're back on the ward as it may be a few hours until the next hospital catered mealtime.
Peppermint tea to help with the wind that always troubles people after abdominal surgery!
Short sleeve nursing pyjamas - the wards are warm and you are likely to be attached to a drip for a while so need to feel comfortable and confident for feeding.
Disposable pants or large "belly warming" pants are essential following a caesarean as their elastic line is well above the incision site. The incision may feel rather sensitive for a while and elastic will irritate it.
Maternity sanitary towels, extra long to accommodate the fact that you will be lying down for longer periods of time. Blood loss after both caesarean and natural birth will be about the same.
Face wipes, you wont get to a shower for at least the first day so they're handy to freshen up.
Nursing bras, Breast pads and the all important nipple cream. Using a cream such as Lansinoh Lanolin from the first day is a good idea if you hope to avoid cracked nipples. The last thing you need is further pain and discomfort!
Slippers without backs so that you can put them on without having to bend down
All jewellery needs to be taken off so this may be best done by yourself beforehand to ensure you know that they're in a safe place.
Nail varnish will be removed and your pubic area shaved so if your c-section is planned then you may wish to do this yourself prior to getting to hospital.
Go through your birth plan with surgical staff before c-section begins, specify if you want baby to placed onto your chest when pulled out, you to discover the sex of baby for yourself etc.
Surgical stockings will help prevent formation of clots so check that these are provided.
Expect to stay in hospital around 3 days, prepare a bag for your partner to bring in for you after the birth with some extra supplies and swap with dirty/not needed items to save having too much around your hospital bed.
Practical tips for after a caesarean:
You may need help to lift your baby in and out of the hospital cot for the first few days and may be completely immobile for the first 12 hours or so until you get all feeling back in your legs and recover from the shock and emotion of having a c-section.
The nurses may offer to take baby to the nursery for a few hours to allow you to rest, this can be a big help if you are comfortable with it and baby is settled without you.
On top of the pain from your wound there will also be the after pains when breastfeeding which can come as a surprise! Ask for advice on best feeding positions to ensure that both you and baby are comfortable and enjoy a successful start to feeding.
You will still feel 6-7 months pregnant for at least the first few days after the birth so make sure you still have your most comfortable maternity clothes to hand. The high waistbands will be more comfortable too and shouldn't rub your wound. Nursing tunics, dresses and smock style tops are excellent for comfort, cover up your post-birth pouch and are flattering to your ample bosom!
When home, have equipment to change your baby upstairs and downstairs. This will save you walking.
To pick up your other children, let them climb up to a raised surface (chair or stairs). This will save you bending and lifting.
Check your insurance policy, you may feel well enough to drive but some insurers state that you have the all clear from your doctor at 6-week check before doing so.