The May issue of Parents Magazine had an article about the increased number of c-sections performed in the U.S. Since I’ve had two c-sections, I read the article with interest, particularly the discussion about recovery being more difficult after a c-section than a vaginal birth:
Because almost twice as much blood is lost during a c-section than during a vaginal delivery, medical complications are common. Up to 30 percent of c-section moms develop postpartum infections, and they’re twice as likely to be rehospitalized due to surgical tears and blood clots. A study published in the September 2006 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who opt for an elective cesarean have three times the risk of dying from complications of anesthesia, infection, and blood clots than those who choose vaginal delivery. Walking, sneezing, laughing, or simply shifting positions can be painful for weeks. And many women find that breastfeeding is especially challenging because the tender incision site makes it difficult to nurse comfortably.
I had a fairly easy time after both my surgeries. Although insurance companies will cover four days in the hospital after a c-section, I stayed for only three days after having Alex and two days after having Tyler. I simply hated being there and my doctor was perfectly sanguine about releasing me. We have quite a few stairs at home, but I never had any trouble with them after getting home, and the pain was manageable with regular doses of Vicodin for about 10 days.
I was surprised to discover that my experience is pretty different from most of my friends who’ve had c-sections. They told me the pain was unbearable, they had trouble getting around, and their scars really bothered them (mine is minimal and has never bothered me). As we’ve compared and contrasted our experiences, I’ve come to realize that our doctors seem to be very different. Some of us have doctors who are more likely to use the latest technologies while others have doctors who like to go with what they are comfortable with and have confidence in.
After hearing what my friends’ doctors did and from a few comments by some nurses, I eventually concluded that my doctor was an excellent surgeon and totally up on the newest medical developments. And although I have no scientific basis to back this assertion up, I believe the most important factor for an easy c-section recovery is the quality of your doctor. I only learned just how great my doctor was after I had my babies, but I think the best way to find the best doctor in town is to ask around. Ask your friends, of course. But also ask doctors and nurses if you can. I did know even before I had Alex that other doctors are patients at my doctor’s practice, and that was always reassuring. And I needed all the reassurance I could get when it came to childbirth.