What I didn't Know About C-Sections
There's this formula we all think our pregnancy is going to follow. The morning sickness, followed by crazy cravings and the cute bump, "glowing" skin and finally with you pushing your beautiful baby into the world in a bespoke robe with this perfect "I woke up like this" look. The experience later to be shared on Instagram with professional photography quality pics. That's a lot of pressure! And let me tell you, we've got pressure in spades. There's so many things about my pregnancy I could share with you but this is about my emergency C-section and what I didn't know, and you may not either. You could say my birthing experience didn't go to plan and now I'm wondering how many actually do? Like seriously, comment below because I feel like we should be more open about our experiences so that we don't feel so crappy when it doesn't look like the above scenario. During one of my antenatal classes, a midwife said to us "everyone of you will have a different story to tell" and that couldn't be more true. My pregnancy was pretty much perfect all the way through. No morning sickness, no excessive weight gain, a healthy active baby growing on track and about a month prior to due date, a head down "locked and loaded" as I like to say, baby boy prepping for his arrival. I mean it's really all any of us could home for. It was looking like I had won the pregnancy lottery. It didn't stop there, my waters broke at home in the early AM, we calmly made it to the hospital feeling prepped and ready, my contractions progressing as expected and dilating at a rate most of us could only hope for (0-8.5cm within 12 hours). That's where my luck stopped. I won't bore you with the details but given my unexpected circumstances, the doctor saw fit to preform an emergency C-Section. THAT I had not planned for. I knew pretty much NOTHING about C-Sections so to say I was a little shocked (and disappointed) would be an understatement. So here's what I didn't know...
IT GOES FAST!
From the time the curtain went up to the time my son was born seemed like seconds (but was actually about 10 minutes). I don't know what I was expecting. Actually I'd never really thought about it since it wasn't part of my plan. Whether you're having a planned C-Section or emergency, the speed in which the process plays out is definitely a perk. There is about a 30 minutes stitching up period that follows but all-in-all, much quicker than a vaginal birth!
You May not get to cut the cord
Just before being taken into surgery, I made sure to ask if my husband would still be able to cut the cord and if I'd be able to do skin to skin. I was reassured that both would be possible however when the moment came, neither were offered to us. This was extremely disappointing to me. I'm not sure if this is always the case, as I have seen photos of belly born babes being placed on mom's chest immediately after their arrival. Just be mentally prepared for either scenario to play out. Your partner will also probably be asked to sit on your side of the curtain, as to not witness any of the surgery taking place. My husband immediately stood up as the words "baby's out" were uttered and was almost tackled to the ground by staff. I can only assume this is to reduce the amount of unconscious dads on the operating room floor. I wasn't able to do skin to skin with my son until after I'd spent an hour in a "recovery room" where my vitals were being monitored. I couldn't tell you where my son was during this time or why he was not immediately placed on my chest :(
There's a lot of people in the room!
Again, I'd never thought about it, but I definitely wasn't expecting that many people in the room! Not that it matters or that you even care at that point but it was a shock to see the team of people required to preform your belly birth! Because I don't like needles, or even the thought of them, as I was being stitched up I asked my husband and the anesthetist to talk to me to help keep me distracted. It was great to have professionals around that knew what you were going through and could be there to help reassure (and distract) you.
IT'S GOING TO BE NUMB
Say what?! Yup...along your incision will be numb. Not for a day, not for a week but for a WHILE. I'm pushing 10 weeks post surgery and my incision is still numb and I don't think that's going to change any time soon. That can seem scary, especially because I was not told this in the hospital and only found out it was normal after I called the labor ward in a panic. I mean it makes sense. They had to cut through muscle tissue and nerve endings, so it's going to take some time for all of that to heal and return to normal...but come on, warn a girl!
Sneezing and Coughing and Laughing...oh my!
Something I wasn't really told about and it wasn't until my first encounter with laughter that I realized...ouch! You learn very quickly to brace yourself and your scar whenever you feel the urge to sneeze, cough or laugh. You can do this by placing a pillow or hand along your incision but honestly, just try to avoid them at all costs for the first couple of weeks. At 10 weeks in, I'm still finding myself bracing myself with each sneeze! arg!
WORKING OUT & THE HEALING PROCESS
I have found that there is actually very little information surrounding the healing process and working out after a C-Section. That's pretty infuriating to me as I find that to be fairly unacceptable in this day and age. Outside of the 6 week rule, I wasn't given any additional information on how to care for my body in the wake of what is actually considered major surgery. I'm fairly certain with most other major surgeries, you'd be sent home with a stack of information or at least proceeding appointments to check that you are healing properly. I actually asked a doctor while still in the hospital what the recommendations are for sleeping positions after having my operation. She looked at me like I was crazy and said I was the first to ever ask and that she didn't really have an answer. I asked because I assumed sleeping on my stomach was likely to be avoided as that kinda seemed like common sense, but also because when I tried to lay on my side or totally flat on my back I felt some level of discomfort. In the end I spent the first week or so sleeping elevated on my back and avoided laying on my side until it became more comfortable. As for working out, this is still a big fat question mark to me. Yes I am past the 6 week standard recovery stamp they seem to place on every delivery, both vaginal or belly, but that doesn't mean I'm fit to resume working out as if it had never happened. So what's safe? What should I expect in the early days and weeks of getting back in shape? My first day back in the gym (at around 8 weeks) I thought I did great, until I got home and learned from good ole google that all the exercises I'd just done were exactly what NOT to do post C-Section. GREAT! Just know that whatever you were use to doing to keep fit before your operation will likely become a long term goal after. Remind yourself that you DID have a MAJOR operation and that these things take time. Listen to your body and know that it's working very hard to heal itself so do your best to let it. Right now I am sticking with walking on an incline as a form of cardio and things like squats and LIGHT weights for strength. In my research I have found that things like climbing stairs, crunches and leg lifts are to be avoided. If you have the ability to swim, I've read it can be a great option. If you have more information on this topic PLEASE SHARE in the comments below!
Intimacy after c-section
You're told to wait 6 weeks before resuming intimacy with your partner. That totally makes sense to me if you've just had a vaginal birth, right?! But what if you've had a c-section? No need to wait that long? WRONG. It takes about 6 weeks for the cervix to close and return to normal, so any intercourse before this could lead to infection...yikes!
There's a negative stigma around c-sections
Yup! Sadly, that's true. As if raging hormones, weight gain and now a human life to care for isn't hard enough, some moms place judgement upon those who delivery their babies via c-section, whether emergency or planned. I find this very sad and unacceptable. I don't have much more to say about it than that but know that no matter how you bring life into the world, it's amazing and you shouldn't be made to feel bad or judged. You do you!
I just want to highlight that these are my experiences and mine alone so if any of this information does not ring true for you, know that we all have unique experiences based on our bodies and circumstances. I hope by sharing my experience it sheds a little insight into the possibilities you may face and can help put your mind at ease! Please please PLEASE comment below (only if you feel comfortable) with your experience, because I think it's great to hear different experiences and receive support from fellow moms! It takes a village, people! Thanks for reading and please share :)