In the middle of these uncertain times pregnant women everywhere are starting to ask the hard questions about what to expect. And one of the hardest questions I’ve come across is what to do if a woman is facing having a c section alone.
Now, of course you won’t alone, alone. Obviously you’ll be around some people, mostly medical staff. But that doesn’t offer much comfort when these are people you probably don’t very well (if at all).
And the one person you’d want to be there – your husband – isn’t. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about giving birth (in any fashion) without my husband so let me just stop here and say this:
You my friend, are a warrior of epic proportions. Not only are you preparing to bring life into this world, you are facing a scenario in which you might be going it alone.
I can only hope that this post brings you some level of comfort about what to expect and how to plan if you are facing a c section alone.
what to expect from your c section
First, let’s talk about what you can even expect from a c section.
If for some reason you end up needing an emergency c section you will likely be laboring at the hospital, monitored by nurses and doctors, until the decision is made that you need a c section.
At that point the process can move pretty fast, depending on how serious the situation is. In my post where I share my c section stories I mention that from the time my doctor made the decision to the time the baby was out was about five minutes.
Not an exaggeration.
When baby is in distress, the doctor will waste no time in getting you into a c seciton. Which can feel scary and overwhelming BUT it’s good for you and the baby in the long run.
Now if you have a scheduled c section the day will be much simpler and calmer.
You will arrive at the hospital at your designated time. You will get checked in and hooked up to monitors. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything (honestly, I thought that was the hardest part!).
And from there you just kind of wait.
It’s kind of a weird feeling to just chill out knowing you’re going to have major surgery soon AND meet your baby. But I’d take that over an emergency c section any day.
Once you’re in the operating room you’ll get a spinal block. The doctor’s will get set up and once you are completely numb (don’t worry, they check and check and check again) the procedure will begin.
From the first cut to the time baby is out is actually surprisingly short. It doesn’t take much to get to baby – it’s the sewing you back up part that takes a bit.
If you’re in good shape and baby is in good shape there is a good chance you will get to hold baby on your chest while the doctors put you back together. This is called a gentle c section, and I honestly can’t think of a better way to get through major surgery then by holding a newborn. Can you?
If all goes well the entire procedure is roughly an hour. And when you’re done you will be taken to a recovery room (with baby, if baby is doing well) where you will be monitored. After a couple of hours you will be taken to your hospital room where you and baby will spend the next few days.
tips for rocking your Birth Without support
I’ve never experience a c section – or any birth – without my support partner (my husband). So these tips are not based on personal experience. But knowing what I know about having a c section (I’ve had two) this is my best advice.
Rely on the nurses
I’ve never met a labor and delivery nurse that wasn’t amazing. They’re warm and kind, and when you are in the thick of labor (or a c section) they can feel like your best friend.
I’ve had nurses hold my hand, stroke my hair, give some of the most encouraging words I needed to hear, and just treat me as if I was their sister. And that was with my husband right there.
Can a nurse that you barely know replace your birthing partner? Absolutely not. But they are very good at what they do and they want to support you. It’s ok to lean on them a little bit more when you’re having a c section alone.
Be your own advocate
You have to tell people what you want and need. This is good advice even if your husband is present: remember he can’t read your mind.
And this is especially true if you’re having a c section alone. Nobody can read your mind so don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need.
I’ve asked nurses to please hold my hand or stop touching me. And they were always more than happy to comply.
It’s not rude to speak up and say “I’m feeling nauseous can you help me?” in the middle of surgery. It’s rude to say “Hey lady! I told you I feel sick, do something about it.” Got it?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
Use the amenities provided by the hospital
If you’re having a c section alone there’s a good chance that you are going to recovering alone, or with very little support. So use what is available to you at the hospital.
When the lactation consultant stops by let her help you. If the postpartum nurse offers to change the baby for you, let her. Order as much room service as you want, ask the nurse to help you take walks, just use what is already there to help you.
I wrote an entire post about how to make the most of your postpartum hospital stay (which you can read by clicking here). I think these tips can really help you as you are preparing for a c section alone.
Don’t worry about your stuff
I’ve seen a lot of women super worried about their stuff. They’re anticipating being dropped off at the hospital with their hospital bag, a car seat, their personal belongings, and anything else they’ll need. And they are worried about where it will go when they’re in surgery.
But here’s the funny part: even if your husband was with you, he couldn’t bring all of that stuff into the operating room.
So it would all get left unattended anyway! Remember the hospital staff does this every day. You aren’t the first patient to have a c section alone and you won’t be the last. They will take care of all of your belongings.
Just don’t take anything too valuable, and maybe hide your wallet/purse from plain sight. Otherwise, just try to relax about your gear. It’s a minor detail, there will be someone there to help you make sure it is safe and gets to your recovery room.
Updated Summer 2020 – The C Section Recovery Timeline
the complete guide to easing the pain of c section recovery
Use technology to your advantage
It’s 2020 for Pete’s sake. I mean, I know we all thought we’d have flying cars a la the Jetsons by now, but at least we have FaceTime.
My husband had his phone in the operating room during my c section to take pictures. I don’t see why you couldn’t hand your phone over to a nurse and ask her to help you FaceTime. Or at the very least take pictures and videos.
Stay focused on meeting your baby
Ok I’m tearing up as I’m writing this, but hear me when I say the most important thing to remember about your day is not that you will have a c section alone, it’s that you will meet your baby for the first time.
And that’s a pretty incredible moment. Do not let your sadness and disappointment of being alone overshadow that incredible moment. You will never get that piece of time back, so savor it and let it be a special memory you can hold onto forever.
I know having a c section alone is hard. Heck, having a c section under any circumstance is hard. Going it alone is almost unimaginable.
But you can do this. I know you can. And do you know how I know? Because you’re a mom now: and that’s what we moms do.
We take all the hard stuff on ourselves so that our children can live the life we dream for them.
Stay strong, mama – you’ve got this!