SOME 15-30 per cent of births locally are performed by Caesarean section, a steady increase over the last two decades or so, and which is in line with global trends which have seen Caesarean section use nearly doubling to what experts have called “epidemic” proportions in some countries.
In 2015, the most recent year for which complete data is available worldwide, doctors performed 29.7 million C-sections — 21 per cent of all births. This was up from 16 million in 2000, or 12 per cent of all births, according to research published in The Lancet and published by AFP.
The surgery is usually done if the baby is too large to be delivered vaginally, if efforts to deliver vaginally are too dangerous for the pregnant woman, or if there are other conditions and situations that would make vaginal birth difficult. But more and more C-sections are also being pushed as the better option by doctors even when the science is contrary, and many mothers have been requesting to deliver their babies via this method, without understanding the risks, and the challenges that follow long after the baby is born.
Your doctor will tell you about all that can go wrong during this major operation, but below mothers share the other things that no one will warn you about — and you may never find out until after you've had a C-Section, whether elective or emergency.
If you have had spinal anaesthesia for your C-section, the anaesthesiologist will warn you about post-dural headaches, and suggest caffeine as a remedy. But what they won't explain is the severity. The headaches will typically occur between day one to a week after surgery, and can be so severe that you will be knocked off your feet. Along with the headache you may experience spinal neck pain and nausea.
The anaesthesia during surgery may not only make you feel like you can't breathe and leave your teeth chattering, but you may also have chest pain during the surgery due to gases from your abdomen rising upwards, that may make you feel like you're having a heart attack.
You'll still feel labour pains
You may have opted for an elective C-section because you don't want to experience labour pains, but you may not know that after surgery, and while you're in recovery, your uterus will contract like in childbirth, and you'll have soul-numbing contractions like a woman does in normal labour. And these contractions, sometimes called afterpains, will continue in the first few days after the C-section — think of the most debilitating menstrual cramps.
You'll have a hard time getting out of bed
Even if you were super fit before, a C-Section will make a baby out of you. Getting out of the hospital bed will be a task and a half and may hurt more than any labour pain you've ever experienced. Yet moving up and about as early as possible will help you heal faster! And then there will be getting in and out of bed at home, as well as lifting yourself from the couch or car or even getting on and off the toilet that will be a lesson in endurance. Walking will also be a challenge — you'll be bent over like a 90- year-old grandma until you can make friends with your core again.
Scar tissue and keloids
If your skin is prone to keloids, then these can form over the scar that will be left on your stomach at the incision site. The keloids can protrude, darken, and come with other unpleasant symptoms like itching.
Phantom itching, numbness and pain
You may have an itch in the general surgical area, but can't identify the source of the itch. This can go on for years. There will also be areas near the incision that will remain numb for years, and you may feel random pains on any one side of the incision as you heal.
You're left with a pouch
Whether you call it a pouch, flap, or lip, this extra bit of hanging skin over your scar may never really go away even with exercise. It's where the muscle was cut by your surgeon, and many mothers who can't lose it by exercising just have to embrace it.
You may see everything
Even though there will be a curtain separating your upper half from your lower body, you may still see everything through the metal dome in the ceiling of the operating theatre or through the thin curtain — like your doctor taking your uterus from your body to check to make sure everything is closed properly, and then reinserting it in your belly!