When I was pregnant it took a while for me to get my head around having a natural birth as everything about it petrified me. But, once I had made up my mind I began to feel more positive and by the time I was around 35 weeks, my nerves had pretty much abated. I knew that I could have an epidural if need be and that a natural birth was best for baby and me.
So, when I ended up having an emergency caesarean it kind of took me by surprise. Mentally I had prepared myself for pushing my baby out but hadn't really given the ins and outs of a C-Section much thought. I kind of thought that if I needed one so be it. There was nothing much I could plan for.
I was wrong.
I truly think that every Mama-to- be should mentally prepare for every birth scenario so that they aren't taken by surprise by anything. Obviously the hope is that you will have the natural birth that you have planned for, but just in case you don't, it's worth running through what happens during a caesarean and then pushing it aside. I wish I had done this as I found the C-Section and the subsequent days in hospital a little bit overwhelming. If I had known what to expect in advance I think it would have made me feel a lot better.
So.... here's a little bit of info and a few tips to prepare you just in case. Read, store away at the back of your mind and then discard :)
1. An emergency C-Section doesn't necessarily mean alarms going off and being rushed into the operating theatre. In my case it was a joint decision with the doctors and didn't feel like an emergency as such.
2. If you've had an epidural during labour then they'll simply top it up once in the operating theatre. If not, then they'll probably give you a spinal block which is similar to an epidural but wears off faster after the surgery.
3. There will be a team of about eight people in the theatre. You and your baby will be very well looked after. Once born, your baby will be checked over by a paediatrician... this is normal and nothing to worry about.
4. You shouldn't feel any pain... just tugging and pressure.
5. There is often a radio/CD player in the theatre. Perhaps make a playlist and ask them to put it on during surgery to help you to relax.
1. You'll probably feel exhausted. Particularly if you were in labour for hours before the C-Section. Allow yourself time to rest and recover.
2. You'll have a catheter in. Mine was removed after about 12 hours. They're not as bad as you think they'll be.
3. You'll be encouraged to move as soon as possible. This helps to stop blood-clots and to get your digestive system going again. Walking is painful and hard but try to move as much your body will allow you as I think that this helped me to recover faster.
4. Your first poo is difficult as it will hurt your tummy and you'll probably be very constipated. Drink lots of prune juice, ask for laxatives if need be and try not to let it stress you out. It gets easier. I promise.
5. It may take longer for your milk to come in than if you had a natural birth. Don't worry... this is normal and it will come.
6. Make sure that your birthing partner stays with you in the hospital. You'll need help and support. Mr UFM looked after both me and Poppy so well. He was our hero!
7. Try and get some family/friends to stay and help out at home after your other half goes back to work. You'll feel a lot better after the first week but it's important not to push yourself too much and to allow yourself to recover. Having people around to help with baby and the house will make all the difference.
8. I recommend wearing a thick sanitary towel/pad under your knickers and over the caesarean area for a few weeks following surgery. It will help to protect the area.
9. Remember to take the painkillers that the hospital provide. They really do help you to manage the pain.
1. If you need a caesarean you are not a failure. What's important is getting your baby out safely. Having a caesarean is just as much of an achievement as doing it naturally. Neither option is easy and you should feel proud of yourself either way.
2. Ask for help, be patient and kind to yourself. You've gone through major surgery and within about a week you'll be feeling 100 times better. Just take it slowly and before you know it you'll be back to normal.
3. Don't compare yourself to mums who have given birth naturally. Initially you won't be able to do quite as much as they can. Take things at your own pace!