Allow me to start by saying if you have the option of a scheduled C-section, be sure you research the risk factors, procedure, recovery, and subsequent pregnancies. If you have a "normal" pregnancy with zero to minimal complications, you will likely not need a C-section. We were presented the option based on my family medical history, current condition of my health and the size of my baby so we decided to have a scheduled C-section in October of 2011. We made the best decision for the health of my baby and for myself and we have no regrets. It isn't the right choice for everyone but it was the right choice for us. ----
Well, I'm knocked up again! This is my second pregnancy after my C-section 20 months ago (You can read my birth story here and here). Last summer, my pregnancy sadly ended in a miscarriage. (You can read my story here.)
I am now 19 weeks along and it's going very well - except for the extreme nausea, cramping and pain. In the world of pregnancy, these are usually good signs of a healthy pregnancy. In the world of pregnancy after a C-section, these are all totally normal. Yaaaay?! When I chose to deliver my giant baby via Caesarian, I did hours of research. I neglected to research what would happen during subsequent pregnancies - I only looked at subsequent births.
Nausea is not new for me and I've been able to take prescription meds to keep it as controlled as possible. When it comes to the cramping and pain, I was surprised that it felt very similar to the recovery of my C-section. It feels like my incision is being stretched with my uterus - and that's exactly what is happening according to my doctor and the inter webs. Engaging my core and lifting 20+ pounds proves to be more difficult with each day. Standing or sitting for long periods of time makes me want to lay down on my back - but then laying down on my back makes me cramp like a severe menstrual cycle. The most comfortable thing to do is lay elevated on the couch and watch The West Wing on Netflix. Oh yeah, and I have a toddler.
Because my surgery was scheduled (at 40 weeks and 5 days), the doctors were able to take their time cutting horizontally along the "bikini line" and take their time stitching me back together. Some women with emergency C-sections or a vertical incision may not experience the same kind of discomfort because the weight isn't pulling down in one directional area. However, women with vertical incisions can sometimes acquire a "butt belly". Both incisions have their ups and downs (budum ching). Regardless of the incision, the recovery process sucks. Getting pregnant after a C-section is uncomfortable...and worth every moment.
So what are the options for pregnancies after a Caesarian? Knowing your limits, resting when possible, asking for help when its available, and lifting only when necessary. I have a medical belly brace to help with the weight distribution of my behbeh, but I personally don't feel much of a difference other than not being able to sit down. I can't babywear my toddler anymore so the stroller gets much more use now. The many stairs in our townhouse require additional planning but its doable. Rest happens whenever my toddler naps. And a bonus tip from me: Stay as regular as possible when it comes to your stomach! Eat well and often - and be sure you "go" well and often. Constipation for an already stressed out stomach is awful.
On a semi-related note, a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian) is a very real possibility for many women. Your doctor and midwife are the best people to speak with about the risks and benefits associated with the procedure. Personally, I'm going to try to have a VBAC if the baby is projected to be under 9lbs and if my blood pressure is better this time. If history repeats itself, we'll be doing another Caesarian.
So here's to 20 more weeks of a healthy growing baby and an expanding uterus!