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13 things that surprised me about having a C-section

6. How fast they got my son out. 

mama and newborn in hospital

My first son was born via a non-medicated vaginal delivery. I felt like a mama warrior after I delivered him. (I was all—“I am woman, hear me roar!"—and everything.) So when I went into labor with my second son after my water broke at 34 weeks, I knew I would be having a much different experience.


His birth would not be about me, I realized. It would be about the fastest, safest way for him to enter this world. And with the doctors and my doula, we decided a C-section was inevitable and was the best route for me and my baby.

As you could imagine, going into labor at 34 weeks was scary enough, but the icing on the cake was the fact that I would need a C-section—something I was completely unprepared for. I had no idea what to expect.

Many of my friends had delivered babies this way, so I had a vague idea. But there were many things about the process and the recovery that surprised me.

1. How much you will still bleed

I thought with a C-section I would bleed so much less—but that was not the case. I still bled for 14 weeks. Granted it tapered off much faster than a vaginal delivery, but I did not think I would need to stock up on panty liners.

2. Learning about things I never knew existed—belly binder, silicone strips, keloids...

Pre C-section, I had no idea what any of these things were. I thought the belly binder they handed me in the hospital was a joke. I remember thinking, I'm not trying to waist train like a Kardashian…

Little did I know how helpful it would be. It gave me additional support and made me feel “sucked in" so that I felt more secure. And silicone strips? They confused me at first, but they have helped the keloids and have minimized the appearance of my scar. They also create a protective barrier against underwear and clothing.

3. Wardrobe preferences

The beauty of maternity leggings during the first few weeks (okay, months) after a C-section should not be diminished. I LOVED these from Target! That was the best $20 I've spent in my life. (Or should I say $100, since I bought a bunch of pairs?...) They did not hit my scar, they were great for nursing in public, and provided a nice skin barrier from the aforementioned waist trainer.

And did I mention how thankful I am for granny panties? (A sentence I never thought I would say, but motherhood makes you do and say some surprising things). There is a real need for soft underwear that reach above the incision. So, do yourself a favor and buy a pack of these.

4. It's real surgery

My doula asked if I wanted pictures of the birth. I said no. She took them anyway, and I'm so grateful. But it took me a while to look at them. Like, months, honestly. But when I did, I realized...this was a real surgical procedure. I guess I never just thought about how serious it is since you hear about C-sections pretty regularly.

5. My husband wasn't allowed in for the spinal

It seems like every anesthesiologist is different, but my husband had to wait in a lonely folding chair—all scrubbed up, with nowhere to go—in the hall, while I was getting the spinal. Luckily, they did allow my doula in, thank goodness.

6. How fast they got my son out

From the time the spinal kicked in, to the time I was looking at my son, was probably less than five minutes. I was shocked how quickly it went. We didn't even have time to finish one song my husband was playing on his iPhone to keep me calm. The longest part was stitching me up, and counting surgical tools. I remember a lot of counting and taking inventory of the room.

7. No need for the vaginal recovery I experienced last time

With my first delivery, I sat on an egg crate for weeks. For some reason, I was still prepared for the lidocaine spray and witch hazel pads that came along with a vaginal delivery. But I quickly realized a C-section is very different. Your lady parts are still very much intact and pain-free. Now there's a silver lining!

8. The gas, oh the gas!

I experienced gas pains all the way up to my neck. I'm still not sure how that's possible, but however it gets there—it's not pleasant. The two tips I learned were to take the gas medicine they gave me (all of it!) and not to invite anyone to come see me in the hospital who I would be embarrassed about passing a little gas in front of.

9. The incision took some getting used to

I had a big fear of looking at or touching my incision. I'm not sure why, but it took months for me to be able to touch it. It's a strange sensation. Plus, it was always numb, but only on one side. In the beginning, I felt sharp pains on the one side. The doctor informed me that usually one side hurts more than the other because it's where the stitches end.

10. It seems like your incision area is a target

You pick up your son, he accidentally hits that area. You burp your infant, he sits on that area. You rest a Boppy on your lap, right on that spot. For months following your C-section, you may feel like your incision is getting in the way.

11. Lifting and bending limitations

I was told I couldn't pick up my toddler, or laundry, or anything really. When things fell on the floor, my toes became my best tool. Scrunch those toes and pick things up, mama! I also struggled to get my pants on and shave my legs. This is when a super loving and supportive partner makes such a difference. (Thanks, babe!)

12. Daily activities become an Olympic-sized feat

Laughing, coughing, sneezing all hurt. Like really hurt. I would have to push a pillow down on my lap for counter pressure if I had to do any of these things. So don't invite any funny friends over. ?

My husband also got a sneak-peek of what life is going to be like when I'm 80 years old. Sitting down, standing up, getting in and out of a car. These things took time. We'd start 10 minutes before we actually had to leave the house because the act of getting up from the couch, putting on shoes, walking to the car, then actually getting in the car—took quite a bit of time.

13. I still missed sleeping on my stomach

After being pregnant and only being able to sleep on my sides, I looked forward to the time when I would reunite with my face planted in the pillow, while soundly sleeping on my stomach. But I couldn't right away. Only just recently, four months later, do I feel comfortable doing that again. It had been almost a year since I was able to sleep on my stomach, but the reunion was oh-so-sweet.

All births come with challenges. No one ever has a completely smooth road from conception to delivery. But having a C-section reminded me to slow down. That it's okay to ask people to help me. That it's okay to feel vulnerable. That it's okay to wonder when you will feel “normal" again.

Like with anything else, but especially with parenthood, show yourself some love and grace, mama. This too shall pass.

In the meantime, enjoy the down-time and the sweet baby snuggles you so deserve.

Need some extra support recovering from a c-section? These products can help, mama.

Comfy compression leggings

Belly Bandit mothertucker compression leggings

With stretchy support for your belly and back and comfy protection for your incision, these high-waisted leggings are a recovery essential.

$80

A supportive belly wrap

Viscose from bamboo belly wrap

Take tender care of that incision and support your core throughout recovery. The snug fit lends comforting constant pressure but doesn't restrict breathing or circulation. This version is one of our favorites because it's made from super-soft and breathable bamboo.

$70

High-waisted recovery undies

Belly Bandit c-section recovery briefs

This high-waisted design lays flat and is incredibly gentle against your scar. Silver-infused fibers help eliminate bacteria and odor to keep you feeling fresh and comfortable.

$35
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

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So, what's new this week?

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She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

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