As I come the conclusion of this Caesarean series, I want to thank all the moms who have opened up to me and talked about their birth experience! In the next few weeks Sudbury doula services will be sharing a few birth stories from other moms who have had Caesareans as well. I think this is important because as i’ve spoken to all these mothers personally now, reading their stories, seeing their heart, I feel like more than ever moms need to connect with other moms, share their experiences, their heart ache, their happiness and their struggles! Motherhood can be extremely isolating for all new moms, but when mom guilt becomes more present, those moms need a place to connect!
Speaking more specifically to the Caesarean mom for a moment, here are some words of advice from other moms, in the hopes that their words will not only help you recover quicker emotionally, but also allow you to feel human while wrestling any emotions, or any obstacles you may be facing!
Stacy Sullivan shared that a friend of hers once said “ You have to give yourself time ( and permission) to grieve the birth you wanted. Taking the time to work through what happened and how it makes someone feel is so important for her mental health. ( and helps limit mom guilt)
While I spoke with Stacy, through asking her about her own experience some advice she wanted to share with other moms out there were as follows: - She wishes she would of read information instead of skipping over it when preparing for her birth, This lead to fear of the unknown which was a fear that she had already. So Reading about Caesarean birth does not hurt you, it does not increase your chance of having one, it will just help better prepare you for that birth outcome should it happen.
When Stacy had her Caesarean, she was taking the recommended pain medication and was feeling pretty good, but because of this, it didn't help her to stay mindful that she had surgery and needed to rest even thought she was feeling ok. Doing too much before her body was ready lead to a longer physical healing process. She wanted to advice to moms to take it easy, even when it's hard to do it, do it anyways! Get as much help as possible and stay off stairs if you can! . It also helped to put Stacy's mind at ease to know that just because you have a Caesarean the first time, doesn't mean that it WILL happen again!
Cassandra Wight helped with sharing her personal experience after her 3 Caesarean births. She wanted to share the following with moms that have Caesarean deliveries:
Biggest helps Postpartum - Belly bandit.. Her third recovery was the easiest one because of binding her belly right away.
Myth - it gets worst with each one didn’t ring true for her
She feels Mom’s are never truly prepared for the outcome of c-section .. the illusion of “it will never happen to me” is very strong
Some things she felt they might not tell you about the procedure?
• Your legs are numb for hours in some cases
• You will have a catheter for 24 hours
• You can’t eat for 12 hours after Surgery
• your arms are strapped down
• You will shake and thats normal , so is intense itchiness in some cases
• Some babies can nurse in the OR
• Some babies can be placed on your chest, Held by someone else.
• Some OB’s have no problem with your significant other giving skin to skin
Once you make it your decision its easier to cope with all together!
(Photo was taken by Cassandra herself, she is a photographer, check her out here: www.cassandrawightphotography.com)
Mom, Cheryl Lamond advised the following through her experience:
Ask your doctor if they can show you around the OR and recovery during an appointment.
She feels it helped a lot to visualize what you would be going through. She did in fact get a tour and it helped a lot!
The nurse in triage will ask if you plan on nursing before the surgery and will assist you almost immediately after! ( if you're with midwives they can assist with this also)
Unfortunately, at Health Sciences North, friends and family are not able to wait in the labour and delivery waiting room and are not able to visit until mom and baby are in their regular room. So it is recommended to make their way over during regular visiting hours.
All experiences are unique and pain can be different for everyone, but what she found was that
pain in recovery really wasn't that bad. She found getting up as soon as she could and moving around ( just don’t push yourself too much ) was a good help.
It is normal to have a bit of a bulge ( located beneath and above the incision). Sometimes the bump takes a while to go down! Don’t fret this is normal!
When lifting lift with you legs, not your back! Since you lose all abdominal strength after surgery, you're forced to use other muscles and it could take a toll on your lower back!
Spinal started wearing off she felt itchy which is a common side effect and not anything to worry about,
“You will occasionally get naysayers that will frown upon c-sections, but really? who cares. Ultimately a safe delivery is what matters.”
Angèle Mews shared the following:
Moving around helps. Try to stay on top of your medication! ( Her nurses never gave her the stool softeners until the day they left and for that reason, her first day home was terrible. She didn't feel she could properly care for her new daughter or pump. It was very painful and she was thankful for the extra hands (help) or else she felt she would of been in a really bad place.
In her experience, while at the hospital they kept forgetting to bring her her pain meds, so she needed to keep mindful of that and stay on top of it.
If you feel like you need to, don't forget to ask questions!! She didn't feel she had proper information from her surgeon about after care. She asked the nurses and midwives, who were happy to help with this information.
She was happy about using the depends, they were her godsend. They helped to support her incision and take care of the lochia. The first few days were the worst in her experience so she advices not to be super woman. Getting out of bed can be tricky so take your time!
While at the hospital, if you are able to spend the extra money for a private room, this is recommended so that both you and your partner can get proper sleep! The first night Angèle and her husband were in the hospital neither of them slept because they were attempting to share a single bed between the two of them.
Once you get home, if you need help to remember your pain medication, Angèle found it useful to set alarms and alternating between ibuprofen and Tylenol.
Jillian Kingsbury shared her disappointed from not being able to do skin to skin, delayed cord clamping and not being able to breastfeed right away. These are normal disappointments that should be acknowledged! If you are feeling any of these let downs, you are not alone!
If you’re hoping to breastfeed and are having a hard time in hospital then you can ask for help from your nurse, midwife, a lactation consultant. She strongly recommends Sudbury's own Stephanie Langille who is a Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, IBCLC and is the sole owner of Breast Works. (www.breastworks.ca)
Jillian also shared that whether it is a planned Caesarean or a surprise, the most important thing is the baby is here. Write down your birth story and how you feel, it will surprise you when you feel down or low to read it and feel strong and accomplished again!
Sarah Kennedy helped with sharing the following:
"Regardless that I did not have a natural birthing experience, it was still an empowering way to become a mother. it was scary ( all births are to some extent) and recovering wasn’t much fun but it amazes me how much we as mothers can endure ( even if we think we can’t handle it ) to have these beautiful little babies. Emotionally preparing before due date and learning about c-sections might of made it easier. Do not be dead set on a birth plan. Anything can happen in the delivery room This can prevent let down because of this perfect picture in your mind ( like in the movies) that special moment movie mothers get after their baby is born… Anything can happen. ...................................................................................
Some people without being emotionally prepared felt the following;
• my body failed me • This is what women are supposed to do • I didn’t try al that i could have upon reflection
Think of it like this “ you are having major abdominal surgery to have these babies. That says something about how strong a mother can be. Knowingly having to accept the fact that you’ll have to have a c-section to deliver your child and still doing it after the first scary and traumatic experience now thats something! Then taking care of a baby and toddler once you get of the hospital, that isn’t easy but you do it out of love! BE PROUD!"
Laura Snider-Storey shared:
"I would tell a pregnant mom that labour just like with parenthood may not always go according to our plan. It's good to have a plan and try our best to follow it but as long as the goal is to have a healthy baby and each decision made during labour is to reach that goal then no decision is the wrong one. Be sure to surround yourself with good support both during and afterwards. For moms that have had a c section- surround yourself with support afterwards. Take it easy and do not over do it and just because you feel better and you feel you've healed doesn't mean you are. They tell you to rest during the first six weeks following surgery and its best to do exactly that. If you over do, you will set yourself back and it will take that much longer to heal."
In conclusion, I would like to share a final thought, and some encouragement from Jillian Portelance RM with Talbot Creek Midwives in Saint Thomas, ON.
"You don't need to be super mom and do it all. You need to rest, bond with baby and allow yourself to be taken care of. You've just put your body through a major surgery, allow it the time it needs to heal. I would say for sure the big one is- be kind to yourself. Having a c section is not a failure. It isn't a lack of trusting or not trying hard enough. Sometimes babies, or long labours, or completely unknown or unavoidable circumstances come into play and you must be willing to say "I did my part with the labouring, and by having this baby this other way, I am STILL doing my part, to bring my baby safely into this world." It is so so easy to fall into the abyss of "what if's" and "if only's". This is helpful only to educate yourself. So do it, and grieve whatever you feel you missed, but then move on and EMBRACE your birth. It is still yours. You birthed a human being in an amazing way. You are just as much a mother. You are just as much a woman. It's easy to "trust the process" when everything rolls along smoothly.....it is harder when labour or baby throws you a curveball and things seem to go sideways....but still. Trust the process. There is still a process for a c section. There is still bonding, skin to skin, breastfeeding, pictures, tears, love, joy. Embrace that. All of it. As a midwife, I love all of it. I don't care how your baby comes into the world, as long as you are happy and fulfilled and in love with this new human you have created."