Wednesday, August 21, 2013

C-sections and Hysterectomies

I have had multiple people ask or suggest to me that the recovery time for an abdominal hysterectomy should be about the same as that of a C-section.  Keeping in mind that every woman is different, some bounce back quickly from both, others have a harder time…it’s not really a cut and dry answer. Some c-sections are much harder and others pretty "easy." Same with hysterectomies. 

*I would invite anyone who wishes to share their experiences with either c-section or abdominal hysterectomy (OR any other hyst!) to please comment. Reading about various experiences could be helpful for others down the road.  

But, all things being equal (which they rarely are), usually, a C-section will be a bit quicker recover time. (not necessarily "easier.")

I found this blog post that explains it pretty well. (better than I can)

"But in the course of a hysterectomy, your bladder is peeled loose from your uterus, many things are cut (nerves, ligaments, blood vessels), your ovaries and their supporting structures may or may not be removed, your vagina (may or may not) will be given an artificial ending, and all of the support that used to derive from your uterus and its attachments has to be relocated to hold up the end of the vagina, the bladder, and your guts. On top of this, your other organs are handled, pushed out of the way, rinsed off, and then reassembled. There are sutures and sutures and staples and multiple closures to hold all these things back together again. The tissue damage is higher, you are under anesthesia longer and with more drugs, and your risks of infection are higher. And that's assuming you aren't also having endo removed, scarring cut apart, bladder suspension, or rectocele/cystocele repairs done. So this surgery is much more complex than just making a slit, removing the uterine contents, and sewing the slit closed again. And it takes a correspondingly longer time to heal and heal well."

I just wanted to make sure people were aware that there are a LOT of differences between the two procedures. It is not just as simple as "taking out the uterus and sewing everything back up."  And to suggest that someone who had a hyst should be healing faster because your (or someone you know) c-section recovery was xyz not a necessarily fair comparison. 


  1. This is interesting. I knew a hysterectomy had to be more complicated than a C-section, but I didn't know it was THIS much more complicated. Wow.

    1. That is why I kinda feel like a "rock star" where my recovery is concerned. Yes, I am still slow and have bad days, but mostly, doing good. On the other hand, I am doing what I've been told. Taking it easy! Not over doing it. Not lifting more than 10 pounds. No vacuuming. etc, etc, etc. I am not trying to be super woman. In addition, now that the stent is out, I think recovery will move along much faster.

  2. Like the above comment said, I didn't know exactly how much more complicated a hysterectomy is! You're a warrior. ;)

    My c-section would fall into the 'more difficult' category, though I am so grateful it went as well, all things considered, as it did.
    My pelvis has a mild tilt to it, which has never presented itself as much of an issue.
    Around 35 weeks, however, my OB noticed that Rowan was still in the breech position. She concluded that my pelvis had been too tilted for him to drop properly.
    At 36 weeks, they attempted to 'flip' him, which was excruciating. They were forced to stop after I lost consciousness.
    This threw me into early labor. I cycled through periods of false labor and genuine contractions for the next three weeks, but managed to make it to my scheduled c-section.

    I'm not sure exactly why, though I suspect it has to do with all of the above, but I had a massive nervous breakdown as they wheeled me in to have him. Thanks to the adrenaline coursing through my system, my blood pressure remained extremely high throughout the procedure. The medicine they gave me to bring it down caused intense nausea and I blacked out a few times.

    I don't have the constitution to withstand heavy medication, and was in a sort of stupor after having Rowan. I remember little to none of this.

    After my procedure, I thought I was healing normally, for the most part. However, after Rowan was hospitalized for his own health issues, I passed out in his hospital room. I was losing insane amounts of blood.
    This next part gets a bit graphic! My apologies!
    The only way I can describe the blood loss is a faucet. I would soak a hospital grade pad in a little under 5 minutes. If I were trying to nurse, it was less time.

    I refused to leave Rowan to seek medical attention. I called my doctor, got her to call and authorize extended pain killers (I was to stop taking them on that very day), and kept going. Lifting things I shouldn't have, up and on my feet constantly (as I had been from day one).

    Two weeks later, I was still bleeding constantly, still in an agonizing amount of pain without narcotics. I saw my doctor, who told me she had no idea exactly why this was happening, but that she believed I was reacting badly to my pain meds. Great.

    I was ordered to stop taking the medication, and schedule an appointment with a specialist. On the day of my appointment, Rowan fell ill again, and long story short, I never made it to the specialist.

    It took me almost 3 months after Rowan to stop the constant bleeding, and 6 months to stop bleeding at all.
    I still, one and a half years after Rowan, have occasional pain with lifting or running.

  3. Sorry for the novel there! I'm sure I left out some details or left something unclear somewhere.

    There were some additional complications which I was on the operating table, but I was too delirious to be fully aware of them. I asked my OB if they would impact me in the future, she said no, and I choose not to ask too many questions.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Kasey! You have a very rough few months after he was born!! I am glad you are both doing better.

      I do worry that you have yet to be seen by a specialist. Please take care of yourself. Because Row needs YOU to be healthy to take care of him.

  4. I know, I know. My mother is upset as well.

    I'm currently without health insurance, but I'm hoping to get seen soon. I finally have a job that will allow me to do more than pay rent and diaper Rowan.

  5. @Kasey,

    I trust you weren't taking ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen (either generics or named brand). These all short-circuit the clotting process. I'm not aware of any interaction between narcotics and/or acetaminophen and the clotting process, however, other drugs (including steroids) can also interfere.

    When you are experiencing anything abnormal (pain, bleeding, or even needing more pain meds than originally prescribed), call your doctor. All of that can be diagnostic for the issues you are experiencing. In the future, remember that it is better to call the doctor when you don't need attention than to not call them when you do need attention. Your doctor or nurse can help you make the determination of whether to get to the hospital or urgent care center.

    Fortunately/unfortunately for me, most of the medical issues that I have, I have enough experience to know what's normal versus abnormal.