Although I had every intention of giving natural birth, I still researched c-section birth and recovery as well, just so that I was prepared for both options. It was a good thing I did this, as my natural birth attempt ended in an emergency c-section.
Also remember that it is absolutely possible to have a successful breastfeeding journey if you delivered via c-section.
Here are some handy tips and information to prepare you for a c-section birth and recovery;
Ask that all the IV;s be inserted into your non-dominant hand, that way you at least have one hand free and with it being your dominant hand, you'd have a better time at handling your baby.
Ask to have the catheter inserted after the spinal block or epidural has been administered, that way you won't feel it. Once the feeling to your legs have fully returned the next morning, a nurse will come to remove it. It is not so sore, considering what you have just been through so don't stress.
Hand your phone to the pediatrician and ask her to take some pictures for you during the delivery. They are used to this request, as they in any case have no one to tend to until after baby has been delivered. Just ask your partner to screen the photos before showing you, as you do not want to accidentally see your insides right after giving birth.
It is common for mothers to become nauseous from the epidural or spinal block while laying on the table. Immediately tell the anesthesiologist that you are feeling ill so that he can hold the little bowl for you to throw up in. This is no easy task I tell you, lying flat on your back and aiming to throw up into that small bowl being held next to your head! Luckily the anesthesiologist will also help you rinse your mouth with some water afterwards, I was so grateful.
If you are unfortunate enough to become nauseous, ask for them to administer an anti-nausea medicine that will not make you drowsy. (That is if you are able to ask, I was too busy throwing up). That way you will be alert afterwards and able to handle and nurse your newborn more easily.
A small percentage of women, once again me being one of the unlucky ones, develop a spinal migraine from the spinal block or epidural. This is the most intense migraine you will ever experience and it usually occurs when some spinal fluid leaked out while inserting your spinal block or epidural. If you do develop a spinal migraine, tell the anesthesiologist immediately so that he can give you some pain medication for it or do a blood patch (when it is needed to top up your spinal fluid).
If baby is healthy and there were no complications, tell the gynecologist that you want to do skin-to-skin with your newborn immediately. Your newborn will then be placed on your bare chest and will stay with you while being stitched up, throughout recovery and return with you to your room.
The next day when the nurse comes to help you to the shower, take it slow and get up slowly, keeping in mind that your blood pressure needs time to adjust, as you have been lying on your back for the past 24 hours.
After your shower, try to move around as much as possible. I'm not saying start tidying the room, just try to be on your feet and give a few steps around the bed every hour or so. It will be painful but your body will get used to it and soon you will be able to slowly go about your daily tasks.
Prepare daddy or your partner beforehand and show them some youtube videos on changing baby's diaper, burping and rocking baby. They will need to help you in hospital, as your incision will still be very sore.
Everyone tells you to pack some high cut panties so that the elastic does not go over your incision site but lets be honest, you are most comfortable in the underwear you usually wear. You can wear your own normal underwear and just place a maternity pad over the incision site.
You can also wear some disposable mesh panties in hospital but do take note that if you are a "woman of a certain shape" those panties can be a literal pain in the but and pinch your thighs. My thighs did not love those mesh panties and not even giving them a cut at the sides helped.
As with any type of birth, you may have heard that the first bowl movement after delivery can be especially sore, especially since you feel as if your incision is going to pop open and your guts spill out every time you try and push. Check with your doctor if you can drink stool softeners so long in the days leading up to your c-section. The nurses will also keep asking if you have had a bowl movement yet, be sure to tell them if you need a stool softener, they usually give you some Movicol to help. Don't be shy, this is not an issue you want to struggle with at home.
When trying to pass a bowl movement, it will also help to take a towel, fold it length wise and hold it across your belly and incision side. Each time you push, pull the towel tight across your belly. This will take away any pain on your incision and you won't feel as though you are going to pop open and spill your guts.
Usually after a c-section you are on IV antibiotics and may even be given a course to take home. Remember that you need to take a prodiotic with your antibiotics as it strips your gut of its natural flora. Some gynecologists can prescribe you a probiotic but only if you ask for it. Alternatively you can purchase it yourself at your nearest pharmacy, the fridge probiotics with active components are the best and your baby will also need some probiotic drops. If you do not restore the balance of natural flora in the gut, you and your baby are at risk for Thrush.
Although it is very sore in the beginning, the pain does get better and your need for pain medication is usually gone by day 7. You may need to take a Panado here and there but that is all.
Also remember that it is absolutely possible to have a successful breastfeeding journey if you delivered via c-section. See the below article by La Leche League on breastfeeding after a c-section for some further guidance.