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What I wish I had known about C-Sections

What I wish I had known about C-Sections

I contacted the wonderful Jana at The Curious Life to be a guest writer for my blog and I am sure you will all agree that this article is enlightening and superb! Please head on over and show her some love.

When I was asked to share my experience of c-sections for this post, I started to think about the things that came up the most frequently for me.
The biggest challenge I faced was in fact, having to get used to the judgement of other women.

Whenever people would ask me about my birth experience, I found myself having to justify my caesareans as if I wasn’t good enough for having gone down that route. Nobody really wanted to hear about the baby being breach and needing an emergency c-section at 36 weeks. In fact, just prior to his birth, many well-meaning women offered me unsolicited advice about how to turn the baby or told me about women they knew who delivered breach babies naturally and were “just fine” or asked sceptically why I didn’t want to experience a “proper” delivery?!

It’s quite shocking how critical we can be of each other. It didn’t matter whether the c-section was my choice or not, many people just expected that as a woman I should want to try everything I could to have a natural birth. In my case, I was thrilled when the baby was the wrong way round! In fact, I had been strongly considering an elective Caesar anyway. It meant that the damage to my body would be controlled and I would know exactly how my baby was going to be born and when. It turned out I was completely wrong with Mr Impatient however, when he decided to pull the evacuation cord at 36 weeks!

When I was pregnant with my second child, I asked my obstetrician whether I should try to have this one naturally. Partly out of a sense of obligation that again, as a woman I was “supposed” to have babies a certain way and that’s what I should be trying to do. My obstetrician who is fabulously to the point, said to me, “I certainly wouldn’t want to be pushing a baby that size out of my vagina – I’d stick to a Caesar if I was you!” and that was my decision made.

The second c-section was an entirely different experience to the first. With my first, my waters broke in the middle of the night, I went into labour and we had an emergency Caesar in the morning. The second took place exactly as scheduled, at the time and date arranged by my obstetrician and was in
fact, a far more anxiety producing experience than the first.
The first one happened very quickly and I didn’t know what to expect. The second time around, I was fully conscious of what was going to occur, felt anxious about the spinal block (similar to an epidural but you can’t feel anything from the chest down) and the pressure of the pushing and pulling as the baby is taken out of your belly in a swift but incredibly uncomfortable 7 minutes or so. The room is full of medical people, all getting a prime view of all your bits (not unlike a natural birth), assisting with catheter insertion, site preparation and the surgery itself.
It can be incredibly overwhelming and in some ways it doesn’t quite feel like it’s happening to you.

It’s true that it’s over very quickly but it’s still an incredibly emotional and surreal experience when the baby is pulled out and you see him for the first time. It’s a birth just like any other, so of course it will be different for each person. There are some things that I would have liked to know going into it, so I thought I would share them here:

Drugs: Don’t be afraid to ask for something to calm your nerves, if you’re feeling anxious right before going into theatre. I wish I had done this with my second and have many friends whose c- section experience was far more relaxed during delivery, thanks to a little help from the anaesthetist. There is no risk to the baby but it certainly would have helped me relax into the process more easily.

Music: At our hospital, the anaesthetist put together a playlist for us after asking what music we liked. I’m a tragic Elvis fanatic so he put together a whole lot of Elvis songs, together with our football team’s club anthem (!) and surprised us with “Happy Birthday”, the moment our son was born. It added so much to the delivery and gave the whole room a celebration vibe. As it absolutely should be!

Post-delivery: In contrast to my thoughts about pre-delivery drugs, don’t be afraid to say NO to the drugs post-event! In the days following delivery, the nurses were incredibly pushy about taking the heavy painkillers, and a vast range of them, all day and night. I hated how they made my head swim and that I couldn’t even hold a conversation at times. Some of the stronger ones made me feel nauseous and I learned very quickly to push back and say no. Paracetamol worked just fine after the first couple of days for me.

Tubigrip/Belly Bands: This is something the physios recommend post c-section and something I didn’t use frequently enough. They help give your core stability while you’re healing and also remind you not to do too much. Despite being a major surgery, I found myself moving normally and without
pain very quickly. It was easy to forget that I was still healing internally and sometimes I would overdo it, particularly with a toddler to chase after in the early days of #2. Wearing the Tubigrip or a belly band gives you a physical reminder to take it more slowly.

But most importantly, be kind to yourself! If you’re feeling disappointed that you weren’t able to deliver naturally, had a difficult experience or chose an elective Caesarean (as you’re absolutely entitled to!) try to focus on the outcome. A healthy, happy baby is the only thing that matters. How
they get here is just the details.

Jana Firestone
The Curious Life Podcast and Blog


5 thoughts on “What I wish I had known about C-Sections

  1. Great article. As someone who has just gone through the experience I felt there was so much I didn’t know, despite educating myself loads beforehand. I think with caesars, the emphasis of available information is on what is going to be done to you e.g. spinal block + incision etc., and not so much on the mother’s actual experience and how the mother might feel e.g. anxious, overwhelmed by all the people in the room, physical sensations, medications etc. and what can be done to combat the difficulties, so this article is very refreshing.

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