The Moment Before: Everything a Mama Needs to Know the Night Before the Incision

As I’ve mentioned bunches of times, my first c-section was not planned. But the one for my youngest was. Going into labor the first time, there was such a sense of panic. And then not dilating enough, coupled with the fun of not understanding Chinese, made it an exhausting experience.

After the meds wore off and I had this sweet baby, I’m glad everything turned out ok. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m NEVER doing this again.” Hahahaha. Once we got back home and into our new groove with the baby, my husband and I were smitten, and we knew we wanted one more.

Only this time,

I was not going to suffer needlessly, I’d told myself. Oh, no, no, no. I was going to plan that c-section and save myself the untold hours of labor and pain (it was nearly a full 24 hours by the time they rolled me in for that emergency c-section).

As the date for my planned c-section with my second daughter drew closer, I, of course, saw the doctor more frequently. She had started prepping me by telling me the things she couldn’t have possibly told me the last time. Things that I should do the night before the c-section.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to tackle all of your pressing questions about the night before c-section, what you should (and shouldn’t do), and help you get ready to welcome your beautiful baby into the world with a little less apprehension!

Can I Go into Labor before My Scheduled C-section?

The most common question I get from soon-to-be-mamas, as well as those that, like me, scheduled their second c-section, is this one. Can you go into labor before that scheduled c-section? I’m here to tell you from my very own personal experiences with my youngest that YES, you can.

Our little sweetie must have been too excited to meet all of us. One week before my scheduled c-section, I was lying in bed trying to sleep because I’d gotten up about a dozen times to pee, and sleep wasn’t coming easy. Then I felt a contraction and quickly glanced at the time.

Precisely 15 minutes later, BAM! Another contraction. I had rechecked the time. GULP. Ok, stay calm, Leslie. Another 15 minutes went by, and another contraction. And then another 15 minutes, another contraction.

I knew I was in labor, but this time, I knew not to rush. There was no point in waking my eldest, who had curled up between my husband and me in the bed. There was no point waking him either. I knew I had hours and hours before it was time.

Why was I so calm?

Well, I’d been down this road before. Being stuck in the hospital, especially in China, is a form of torture all its own. I hadn’t eaten since dinner (I’ll cover food rules in a minute), and I’d barely had anything to drink (another rule…hang on), so I was okay. But I still wasn’t expecting my c-section to be on this day.

All went well though, so my advice to you here is that you be ready for anything even a week before your scheduled c-section. And if you do go into labor early, watch the clock first. If your contractions are as far apart as mine were, there is no reason to panic. I almost forgot! I took a shower too! A nice, long, hot soothing shower.

Do this because you will be grungy and gross from not showering in the coming days after the surgery.

Speaking of showers, washing, and preening…

My mom’s friends in the states told me they were given a special antibacterial soap to use before the c-section. They didn’t do this in China (read more about my story of giving birth in China). Apparently, though, you should wash yourself the night before and the morning before. I only had one shower and was fine.

Do know that whatever happens, the surgical team is going to disinfect and prep the area for surgery. So shower as your doctor tells you to do, and if you get a special soap, use it. If you’re like me and you get into labor before your c-section, just shower but don’t use any lotions, perfume, or deodorant.

You’re not supposed to use nail polish either, but honestly, the last thing on my mind was painting my nails.

Yes, that’s a big, fat NO to wearing deodorant before a c-section.

No one told me that in China, but it wasn’t like I’d just put on a fresh coat of it. I can’t for the life of me find out WHY all medical institutions here in the states list that, but site after site states it, so it’s probably best you follow that.

Should I Shave before C-section?

Here’s another NOOOOOO for you. I just posted about waxing, and it goes into a little detail about shaving prior to the c-section. It can’t hurt to keep things trim in the weeks before, but in the 48 hours before your c-section, especially the night before it, you shouldn’t shave. They will shave you themselves.

And if you think that’s embarrassing, well, it is a bit, but this is what they’ve been trained for. We tend to get embarrassed because it’s not every day that we have a baby. But for them, it IS every day that they deliver babies. When I started thinking like that, I became less embarrassed about the whole ordeal.

What Else Should I Do or Not Do?

Now I’m going to clue you in on the things you should expect your doctor will tell you to do (or not to do) the very night before your c-section. You may even get a pamphlet similar to this one, though always ask your doctor for specifics at your selected hospital too.

Also, if your c-section isn’t due for weeks, it’s good to know this information since, as I mentioned earlier, you CAN go into labor before that scheduled date.

Eating before a c-section

Just about every doctor agrees that you can eat the night before your c-section. As these surgeries are usually scheduled in the morning, though, you’ll want to make your last meal before becoming a mommy an early one.

You should avoid eating roughly 8 hours before the c-section.

As for what to eat, think of nourishing foods that will help you keep up your strength. Fresh produce, lean meats, whole grains, and fruits are always excellent choices. Here is more about it.

Drinking before a c-section

Some say you can’t have water after that last meal before your c-section while others say water is fine up to 2 hours before. For me, I was so parched I had to have some water in the night though I didn’t have any 2 hours before I went to the hospital.

Medications before a c-section

Some of you may have health conditions that you manage through medications. Your doctor should be aware of them, and as such, it’s important that you ask him or her about what to do regarding those medications prior to your c-section. Even if you have allergies and are considering Benadryl, always consult your doctor first.

Sleep before a c-section

you would want a relaxed sleep night before delivery

This is a tough one. It’s likely as you get closer to that c-section date that sleep is difficult due to waking up to go pee or trying to get comfortable. Believe me, I feel you on that. But it’s so important to try. The more rest you get, the better!

Some instructions:

I’d say shoot for resting more in the weeks before your c-section, so you feel as relaxed as possible under the circumstances. Should you go into labor early as I did, try your best to sleep through the contractions. If you find them coming on closer together, it’s time to let your doctor know you’re in labor and get a move on to the hospital.

Annoying problems before a c-section

Is your heartburn burbling up again as you lie in bed awaiting your c-section tomorrow morning? Try to hang in there. Many hospitals will give you antacids to keep your stomach acids from interfering with the surgery. It helps to prop yourself up to more on your pillows to keep reflux away as well.

Yes, that’s not the most comfortable way to sleep, but soon, you’ll be holding one of the greatest treasures in the world…your baby!

Don’t Forget Your C-section Birth Plan

And finally, I want to remind you that planning a c-section does require a birth plan on your part, aside from saying, “I want a c-section,” or if your doctor tells you that you must schedule one.

What should you put in that c-section birth plan?

Well, anything that means something to you should be noted. As with a regular birth plan, you’ll need to remain flexible if things change beyond your control.

Some things you might want to put on your c-section birth plan are:

  • Who you wish to at present during the birth

In the states, you’re allowed to do this at most hospitals. But in China, no one but the medical staff was allowed in there. Probably for the best because I think my husband would have fainted. In any event, whether it’s your husband or your mother, specify who you want.

  • Who you DON’T want

If anyone can come in, it might be wise to note someone you do not wish to see while you have your c-section. For example, if your in-laws want to come in during the surgery but your mother-in-law, bless her heart, continually runs a monologue of what she thinks is helpful advice that you don’t want to hear while strapped in for surgery, then make sure you note that.

  • Anesthesia options

You will most certainly need to be numbed from the waist down, so you don’t feel the surgery. But you do have choices when it comes to going completely under or not. If you’re not sure, you can choose during the delivery if you feel too scared to stay awake.

  • Clear screens or not

They now have clear screens that allow you to see your baby being delivered via c-section. I wouldn’t like to see that, but far be it from me to deny you of that. Ask your doctor if your hospital has those clear screens if you’re interested.

  • Specify your desires to hold and nurse your baby

One of the most important things I noted on my birth plan was that I wanted to hold and breastfeed my baby as soon as humanly possible after birth. Here read the best breastfeeding positions for a newborn. Despite the language barrier, for both of my births, this was followed to my exact specifications.

I have a post on skin-to-skin and nursing, so check that out for more details.

One final thing before your c-section…

On the night before your c-section, try to relax. Listen to music you love, call a friend to chat, enjoy your meal, watch a movie…just keep your mind off of it the best you can. It is major surgery, but you will come out of it just fine.

Allowing yourself to relax will be best for your healing and recovery, so try to go into it with a calm mind and spirit. When you come out of it, you’ll have a sweet new baby to hold and love!

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