The Fourth Trimester: But a C-Section isn’t part of my birth plan?!
I would like to introduce you guys to Ashley. Ashley is a contributor for the Fourth Trimester series, and today she will be sharing her experience with cesarean births. Ashley is a wife to a coach and teacher. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. She’s a new stay at home mom after leaving teaching after her 2nd child was born. She has two boys who are 4 and 1 year old.
Take it away Ashley…..
I was going to have an all-natural vaginal birth. I had gone to the birthing classes and prepared my birth plan. I had it typed out and everything. There was not a concern in my mind that this may not happen, not even a glimmer. However, the first day on the job of being a mom, and my oldest son showed me that motherhood is never that easy.
My water partially broke at home and the nurses broke the rest soon after I was admitted to the hospital. I was walking around my room and ready to do this. I went through transition perfectly. I was dilated 10cm and ready to push. And I did. I pushed for 2 hours without an epidural. Nothing. Then my body gave out and I pushed for 2 more hours with an epidural. Nothing. Finally my doctor told me that we could suction the baby out (What? I was immediately flooded with fear) or I could have a C-section. I began to cry and felt like I had failed. I couldn’t do it. I felt so defeated but I wanted my baby and myself to be healthy. So, after 18 hours, I was finally able to see my boy.
With my second son, I was again determined to have a natural birth, and this time it would be a VBAC. I discussed this at lengths with my doctor and she had no concerns. My oldest had gotten stuck under my pubic bone so in my eyes, the whole thing was a fluke and I would definitely be able to have a natural birth this time. So again, I wasn’t at all planning for a C-section to take place.
We arrived at the hospital after my water broke at home. I was already at 4cm. We were off to a great start! This was going to be different, I thought. But after 10 hours, I was at 7cm and nothing was happening. I would be having a contraction and feel nothing. My son wasn’t able to move down the birth canal because of adhesions (scar tissue) from my 1st C-section. The doctor came into the room and told me since I had been at 7cm for hours and the baby wasn’t making progress, he recommended we do another C-section. Before he told me this, I had already come to terms in my mind (since I had had some time to think) that this may happen. I gave myself a pep talk and decided I could do this again. I went into surgery with tears in my eyes, again feeling like I had failed.
I tell you this part of the story to let you know how incredibly unprepared I was. Like extremely. I had no idea what I was walking into and by no means did I think that this was even in the realm of possibility. Now even though I had two C-sections, the experiences afterwards were both very different! The first time, I was a first-time mom with no clue what I was doing with my new baby, leaky boobs, and incision across my abdomen. The second time, I knew how to handle some of those things, but I had another child to take care of while I was adjusting with all the other stuff. Through both of my children’s birth experiences, I couldn’t believe that no one warned me some of this stuff! Like isn’t there some kind of mom-code? My hope is that my tips will help you and give you some ideas to make you more prepared, even if a C-section isn’t part of your birth plan either.
- Stay on top of your pain meds: Make sure you or your partner set an alarm in the hospital to request the meds prior to you needing them. Nurses get busy and sometimes can’t get to you until you are already in pain. At home, write the time you took the meds last on the mirror. You and your partner are sleep deprived. Sometimes you just can’t remember when or if you took the medications. Also, set an alarm to take them again. I would wake up, take meds and go back to sleep.
- Breastfeeding will be more difficult but do-able: One reason you want to be taking your pain medications consistently, is because of nursing. Nursing is hard. Period. After a C-section, nursing is harder in the beginning because you can only lay the baby certain ways. It is easier and less painful(obviously) if you are taking medication to help you. Using pillows and having your partner help you with getting the baby to the nipple is very helpful until baby gets the hang of it. Ask lactation nurses to help you finds positions that work for you BUT if it doesn’t work out that’s ok! Fed is best and formula is a great option.
- Get moving:As uncomfortable as it is and as tired as you are, it is so important to move. Your body will heal faster and the gas inside you from surgery will be able to be released quicker. Now, don’t go training for a 5K as soon as you get home but you should walk around your house or outside. Increase you steps each day. Not only will it help healing physically, but I found it helped give me a goal to get out of bed.
- ASK for help: Not only did you bring life into the world but you also had major surgery! It is OK to ask for help. Help with your older kid(s) if you have any, help with your laundry, meals, driving you places (You won’t be able to drive for about 4 weeks and your newborn has appointments to get to). OR just to have someone there to help you with the baby while you sleep. Looking back, I feel like this should be a no brainer, but for some reason, we feel like we have to do it all when that is not true.
- I recommend you buy these items: Soft waist band yoga pants-You won’t want anything tight because of your incision for a while. A lot of Depends and/or pads-There is still going to be a lot of bleeding even though you didn’t have a vaginal birth. I always found this to be frustrating. And stool softeners- They are your new best friend for obvious reasons 😉 Isn’t motherhood so attractive?
- Beware of tall beds and stairs: Just like after any other major surgery, your home life may be affected for a little bit. In the hospital, the bed can move for you and you have a that great rail to help you get in and out. At home this simple task will be difficult for a little while, especially if you are getting If you have a tall bed, you may want to consider sleeping on a couch or lowering the bed. Also, if your room is upstairs, I would suggest moving downstairs to sleep and do most of your daily activities. Stairs hurt and extra stress on your incision is not a good idea. If you cannot avoid it, then I would limit using the stairs if possible.
- Finally “Mommy and Baby both Healthy”- I wish someone would have told me that this is all that matters. C-section, natural, with or without epidural, water birth, home birth, hospital birth. In the long run, it doesn’t matter. Healthy baby, Healthy mama. I spent so much time comparing myself because I couldn’t do what other moms did. I had to learn not to believe the lie that I was less of a mom because I didn’t have a specific birth story and you aren’t either. Every birth is beautiful and unique to that mom and that child. You carried, grew, and brought life into this world. You are AMAZING Mama!!
Thanks SO much to Ashley for sharing her story! I LOVE this series SO much. I have no experience with C-sections, so it was so awesome to have her share this with you guys. If you’re interested in being a contributor to the Fourth Trimester series, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!