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I'm Scared! What does a C-Section Feel Like?

It is human nature to be scared of the unknown. That fear can lead to anxiety and even pain in some situations, labor and delivery being one of them. I often have clients ask me about C-Sections, more specifically, what do they feel like. Sometimes this discussion happens during prenatal appointments when the baby is in a breach position, other times this question is asked in the hospital right before they are being wheeled into the operating room.

In a C-Section movement will be felt, but not pain. The best way for me to explain this is by lifting my arm almost like I am flexing my bicep, but not actually flex it, then grab the underarm flab and move it back and forth. If you can, try it yourself now.

As you move the skin back and forth, can you feel movement? Does it feel painful?

This is what a C-Section will feel like. Before they make the incision they will prick you different places around the incision area and ask if you can feel that, if you can, they will then give you a stronger numbing medication, if not they will then proceed with the incision. During the procedure there is a lot of pulling and tugging to get the baby and placenta out, then clean the uterus after, before stitching up the site. When it first begins, the movements can be scary because you know something is happening, but the pain response in your body is not, it is a very out of body experience. It is important to stay calm because fear can create a false sense of pain.

When I had a stat C-Section with my third child, my husband was not allowed in the room until after my son was out, because they did not know how serious it might be. I was freaking out and begging them to knock me out, screaming that I can feel what they were doing. A kind nurse anesthetist with a sweet German accent, kindly said, "We don't want you to miss your son being born, you are safe, please breath". I took two deep breaths and he began to explain everything they were doing and I realized that I was not feeling pain. This sweet man, calmed me down and talked me through a scary experience.

With the move towards gentle C-Sections, many hospitals are moving towards allowing a Doula in the operating room along with the patients support person, check with your hospital to find out their policy. If you can only have one support person, make sure that they know what to expect and that they would be able to talk you through what is happening to your body. A C-Section does not have to be traumatic, it can be beautiful even, but the birthing person needs emotional support. You can advocate for yourself to get what you need.

If you any questions or thoughts, please comment or send me a message

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