The truth about a C-section (from a mum who has had three)
Too posh to push? An easy sun-roof birth? I have heard it all.
I found I had to look at the lighter side of the entire situation as the prospect of facing such major surgery almost paralysed me with fear.
I had a fabulous, well thought out birth plan for my first child, the playlist was complete for my natural delivery, and to counter any fear of the actual birth I had a lovely comforting image of exactly how it would all play out. I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park, but I had visualised it so many times that I was at peace with the fact that This Was Happening.
That was mistake number one.
We should always expect the unexpected when it comes to motherhood.
It all came crashing down for me when at week 37, the midwives booted me off the domino scheme (you get an early release from the hospital) because my daughter was breech, and suddenly I was being scheduled for a c-section. Cue three days of sobbing.
Despite my tendency to the dramatic, I am quite a pragmatic person, so after trying mostly everything you can do to get my baby to turn, I decided to get on with the fact that This Was Happening.
My last weeks of pregnancy can only be described as a mission to get as much information as possible for the best recovery possible for a section.
Obviously, everyone has a different experience but here are some positives I discovered from my c-section:
1. It isn't as bad as you think
I know it is major surgery, but the entire process was much scarier in my head. I kept my eyes tightly shut when I was brought into the operating theatre. I think they thought I was totally crazy but I knew seeing the surroundings would frighten me more, so while they were prepping me (it takes just a few minutes to get the spinal block put in) I slowly unscrewed my eyes and seeing all those friendly nurses and doctors put me totally at ease.
2. Your teeth won't stop chattering
I think it is partly fear, partly adrenalin and mostly the drugs, but I was shaking for most of the operation. This does pass so just relax into it and keep breathing deeply. I actually focused on it (mostly because I am crazy — see point number 1)
3. It is no less amazing seeing your baby born this way
Admittedly I don't have a comparison but let's be honest, once we see our baby outside of our bodies it is beyond amazing, and at that stage, I didn't care if she had come out of my nostrils I was so happy. Those moments of joy will be the very happiest of your life and although sometimes your baby will be brought off to the nursery while you recover — the anticipation to be reunited with your new son or daughter make the moment you see them all the sweeter.
4. The drugs are pretty amazing
Forget tea and toast, my parents-in-law smuggled in pink champagne which I enjoyed hugely despite being off my face on morphine. Do take your painkillers in the days after. Staying on top of the pain is key. I can honestly say I never felt any pain at all in the days after surgery. I was uncomfortable and tender but didn't feel any pain.
5. You are up walking around within hours
I thought the nurse was having a laugh when she breezed in and said it was time to get up and have my shower. I thought I had to basically lie flat for five days and never lift a thing. It is recommended you get up and about to get your blood flowing. You will perfect the c-section shuffle, partially bent, hand over your tummy — but within about two or three days you are used to it. I was surprised at what I could do, and wheeling baby into the nursery for a change is no problem during your hospital stay.
6. Don't overdo it
I think us women think we always have something to prove. For some, it's getting back into the jeans quickly like a baby never even happened. For others, getting out and about is proof that you are a good and well-organised mother. I made this mistake on my first baby. I was up hosting ten friends and family five days after she was born, squashed into a totally inappropriate getup. By the time I had my third c-section I stayed home curled up on the couch for two weeks with the odd visitor who made (or brought) their own coffee. I stayed in my dressing gown and watched Say Yes To The Dress non-stop while feeding my little newling and snoozing. Pure bliss.
7. Listen to the doctor
They say you shouldn't drive for six weeks as breaking suddenly could really damage your healing scar, but some people can feel quite cooped up for this long. We would always advise asking your doctor what they recommend. I didn't mind staying in but I did really enjoy the drives and visits my husband brought me on. If you don't have anyone to take you out you could end up quite stuck, so try to get the balance right and even take a short walk or bundle up and sit outside for a bit if you can. A little fresh air does wonders.
8. The shower always helps
If you are feeling frustrated from feeding, the baby won't settle and your feeling really teary, hand over the baby for ten minutes and take a hot shower or bath. No matter how tired you are or how low, this really does make a difference. If you are home alone, try to stick it out until the baby does settle and then take a pamper session in the bathroom. You deserve this. You need this.
Having a baby is a huge change — giving birth is overwhelming and life-changing. Having your baby by c-section can be a scary prospect especially if it is unplanned. My advice is to keep an open mind to what is coming your way.
Perhaps feeding won't work out; perhaps the birth plan goes askew and maybe you will struggle to handle things initially — but going with the flow is your first major lesson of parenthood.
And those little, amazingly adorable cuties will continue to keep you guessing….for about the next 18 years.
What else have I left out? I'd love to hear your experiences.