C-Section for Plus Size Women
In the United States 30% of births are via c-section and that percentage goes all the way up to 50% for morbidly obese women. This page, C-section for Plus Size Women, is all about providing support and resources.
WARNING – some of the photos below are graphic and may not be suitable for everyone.
- Needing a c-section is in no way a failure, it’s an understanding that you need a little help to safely bring your baby into this world.
- If you had desired a vaginal birth know that many women can go onto have a vaginal birth after cesarean with future births.
- Consider writing a birth plan for your c-section.
- Watch this c-section video to have a better understanding of what the experience will be like.
- Consider hiring a doula to support you and your partner through this experience.
- Make lots of freezer meals and plan to have people lined up to offer you support once you’re home.
- The anesthesiologist, not your OB-GYN, decides who can join you in the operating room. Usually they will only allow one person to join you, however, it never hurts to ask. Request to have your partner and another support person, like a doula or family member, by your side. One support person can stay with the baby and the other with you.
- Blow out when they are inserting the spinal block.
- It might take them multiple times to get the needle in, just breathe through it if it happens to you.
- The spinal block can make you really cold and weak. Don’t be concerned if you’re shaking, it can be a normal side effect.
- The operating room is very cold. Ask for warm towels and blankets to be put over your arms, chest, and around your head.
- It’s common procedure to have your arms strapped down. If this bothers you have a conversation with the OB-GYN about what your options are.
- Some women appreciated having two small holes on either side if their incision to help with draining. Or even having a drain placed. Ask your care provider about this.
- Ask for comforting music to be played rather than hearing the doctors talk about their weekend plans.
- Consider the use of aromatherapy.
- If you feel anything from the waist down speak up and your pain meds will be increased.
- A catheter will be inserted since you will be unable to walk right away.
- If given the choice between staples or stitches, many women of size preferred stitches.
- You may feel tugging as the baby is gently removed from your uterus and cramping as your baby is born.
- Have your partner take pictures of your first moments meeting your little love. Consider asking a nurse to snap your first family picture.
Immediately Following Surgery
- While a few hospitals provide natural cesareans it’s still a very new concept. You can request immediate skin-to-skin following the birth of your child but they may not grant it.
- If you’re unable to do skin-to-skin, ask to have the baby’s first blankets placed upon your chest. This will help to release hormones within your body to contract your uterus and let your body know it’s time to produce milk.
- Have your partner provide your baby with some much needed skin-to-skin if you are unable to. Most often there’s a 45 – 60 minute waiting period before you’ll be able to hold your baby in the recovery room. Often you will be able to touch your baby and be cheek-to-cheek before they are taken to the nursery while you’re being stitched up.
- Attempt to breastfeed as quickly as possible. Expect your milk to take up to five days to come in but your baby will receive colostrum right away. Ask to see a lactation consultant.
- Skin-to-skin with your baby is the best pain medication there is!
- You will be unable to stand or walk until the medication has worn off. As soon as you’re able to move your lower half the medical staff will encourage you to stand and take a few steps.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and lower/raise yourself while exhaling.
- Get up and walk as early as you can. This will help with blood circulation and reduce gas pain.
- Compression stockings are a must following major surgery.
- Drink lots of water.
- Press a pillow against your stomach when you sneeze, cough, or even laugh.
- Also it might be comforting to press a pillow against your stomach while going to the bathroom.
- Request stool softeners and make sure you have enough on hand for your recovery at home as well.
- Gas pain can be very unpleasant.
- Request an ice pack.
- The area of your incision will be numb for an undetermined amount of time.
- Make sure someone helps support you while you take your first shower.
- Keep your incision area clean and dry. Tuck sterile gauze pads over the incision to help prevent infection.
- Some women find it helpful to dry their incision with a hair dryer on a low setting after a shower.
- You will still bleed vaginally. The hospital will provide you with sanitary pads during your stay.
- Accept help! Recovery time varies for each woman but most can’t return to doing normal activities for at least 6 – 12 weeks.
- Keep the incision dry and clean.
- Do not lift anything heavier than your baby.
- Do your best to sleep when the baby sleeps or at least rest when your baby is sleeping.
- Get up and walk often but don’t over do it.
- Wear loose fitting sweats/yoga pants
- Sanitary pads can be placed against your incision during the healing process.
- Overnight pads are advisable for this use and vaginal bleeding.
- Take home some extra mesh panties from the hospital.
- Vitamin E oil can reduce the appearance of your scar.
- Eat foods that are high in fiber, like green veggies, to help with constipation.
- Keep a water bottle near you at all times and drink it!
- Some women find it really comforting to wear a belly band.
- Have someone with you for a least two weeks to help with shower breaks, cooking, other children, pets, household chores, etc.
- If possible make your bed as high as possible so it’s easier for you to get in and out of it. Some women even prefer sleeping in a recliner since laying flat will be extremely uncomfortable for quite sometime.
- Tell visitors you just had major surgery. You are not expected to be a hostess! Unless they are coming to help clean or bring a meal, ask them to politely stay away until you feel up to it.
- Consider having a list of things you need so when people call you can let them know how the can be of assistance.
- Stay on top of your pain medication.
- Ice packs will help with pain and swelling.
- If you’re having any difficulty breastfeeding contact a lactation specialist or your local La Leche League.
- Consider hiring a postpartum doula.
- Keep the peri bottle from the hospital. You can use it to help keep your incision clean.
- Wait to drive until you feel ready to do so. It will take more energy out of you than you can imagine.
- If you have negative feelings about your birth, contact your local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) group for support.
- Keep the list of warning signs your doctor will provide you with handy. If you have any concerns call your care provider right away.
For anyone looking for tips to avoid a c-section read this article, Women of Size and Cesarean Sections: Tips for Avoiding Unnecessary Surgery, written by Pamela Vireday of Well-Rounded Mama.
If you’d like more support on having a c-section as a plus size woman the Plus Size Mommy Memoirs community is here for you.