Birth is an experience whether it be beautiful or brutal that can awaken incredible determination, fear and love. It can be an empowering intimate and love filled experience even if it doesn’t go the way we want it to. My first birth was challenging and after 40 hours of labor I had to have an emergency c-section. Due to the shape of my pelvis my doctors informed me that I can’t birth naturally. So for my second birth I booked a c-section. Here are 5 things you should know before having your c-section.
1. Make sure you don’t assume anything. You may for example assume your doctor will sew up all the layers cut during a c-section. They don’t always do this in America. My doctors didn’t thereby preventing me from birthing naturally in the future. Now I’m older and won’t be having more children but it feels like a violation that they didn’t put me back together properly or as best they could. When I asked my doctor in post op if they sewed both layers up she said they didn’t and that they usually don’t. This is an illegal practice in Australia where I’m from so I just assumed it would be done correctly. Don’t make that same mistake and tell your doctor you require them to sew you up as if you wanted to birth vaginally again.
2. You will forget things. You have undergone a major surgery or a major physical experience and you have brought a human into the world. You are a miracle maker and you used most of your magic for this event. You don’t have energy left to remember all the things you planned before you did this. Yes of course do a birth plan but you may need to take it further. I wanted to take my placenta home. Not to encapsulate it, eating my own body part has no appeal although I understand the draw for many women and power to them. For me I wanted to bury my placenta as some tribal cultures have done for eons. Its said to help the child be grounded and better know what they want to do in life. This appealed to me since I’ve always been rather aimless and if someone told me to jump up and down naked 1000 times because it’d help my kid know their path in life, I’d do it. We had a birth plan and shared it with the doctors and nurses. This is a little unusual with a c-section but I wanted to make sure they didn’t throw my placenta away with the other innards. Still by day 2 when we were discharged I was in so much pain and so shellshocked that I was expected to be walking around after they had cut me open that I didn’t think to ask for it when we left.
My husband remembered it 4 days later and we went straight to the hospital. You can imagine him running into the maternity ward “We forgot our placenta”. Sadly they had thrown it out already without so much as a heads up. A quick call to the mother ‘Hi yes we wanted to make sure you didn’t still want this part of yourself – we have it in our notes that you wanted to keep it and thought we’d check, you know since we didn’t remind you at any point while you were here.” So my advice to you dear friends is to set a reminder on your phone for 2 days out to give yourself that extra reminder that the staff or your partners properly won’t do.
3. Don’t assume they know everything. Have some faith in your own gut and common sense.
I broke out in full body hives on day 2 and the nurse suggested it was likely from the hospital sheets because they wash them in so much bleach. Now whilst this is reasonably common (a good idea to bring your own sheets if you have sensitive skin) the nurse didn’t offer the other obvious choice which was that it was an allergic reaction to the drug they were giving me for the pain. On day 4 my skin was so itchy and angry that it was bothering me more than the incision. So I had a moment of clarity and googled it. Hives were the most common side effect listed online. I went off the drugs immediately and it started to clear up. It didn’t sit right with me when she sad it was the sheets but I just went with what the nurse said, because you know she should know better than me.
4. Give yourself time. They nurses said that I should be up and walking on day 2. Whilst I thought they were crazy I did it because that was the expectation placed on me and like all good girls I push myself even if I feel its too much if there is an expectation. My husband, as directed by the nurses, was encouraging me to walk as well so I was walking around the block on day 4. Ladies this is the best advice I can offer you. Listen to your bodies. Do not follow advice blindly. After week one I was so tired and in pain because I was pushing myself to do everything. Having gone through it now I say rest for at least a full week. Start out slowly and honor your body and the incredible vessel that it is.
5. Some ideas to include in your wish list or birth plan.
– Delayed cord clamping. My doctor did do this for me. It was only for 45 second but that’s enough.
– I requested that they put my baby on my chest as soon as possible. So she was on my chest and we were both comforting each other whilst the doctors sewed me up…incorrectly. Still having her on my chest was truly beautiful and really did calm me down. She was crying as they do as soon as she was brought out but the instant she was put on my chest she calmed down as well.
– Does your partner want to cut the cord? They can do so even in a c-section. They can’t do it whilst the cord is still connected to you because when having a c-section the environment over your open torso needs to be sterile. They can however do it once the baby is taken over to be checked and they can cut a portion of it.
As seen on HuffPost