I had a c-section and it was fine, actually

This blog is just practical notes based on my own experience of c-section as I’ve been asked a few times by expectant mums and I will probably start forgetting things soon.  Techniques develop fast and things were possible on the second that weren’t on the first, so if you think you may have a c-section, do ask your midwife about things that are important to you.

  1. It is possible to have skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth.  With my second c-section the baby was immediately placed at the top of my chest, his cheek against my cheek.  While it wasn’t possible to go to immediate breastfeeding, that might be possible too in the future as techniques develop.  So if skin-to-skin is important to you, talk to your midwife/consultant about it.
  2. On my second c-section I was keen to get home asap to be with our older child. I had the c-section about midday and left the hospital at 6pm the next day. The doctors had to be satisfied that my scar was set to heal, that my bowels and waterworks were back to working order (first time I’ve had to fart for an exit visa), and that I was able  to breastfeed.  Breastfeeding was very important to my hospital, and might not be such a priority elsewhere.  I also had support at home.  C-section doesn’t have to mean a long hospital stay if you’re a bit lucky.
  3. During my first c-section, the consultant surgeon said “you’re the captain of the ship, we’re just the sailors.”  Although you are on a gurney and can’t move, you can talk.  Talk to people, ask questions.
  4. On my second c-section, unlike my first, I was allowed to keep my glasses on which was very important to me as I have very poor eyesight.
  5. As my second was a planned c-section I was able to bring my own music in and it was quite a party atmosphere, until they placed the baby on me and all the staff somehow seemed to melt discreetly out of view while my husband and I bonded with our baby. It can be lovely.
  6. I was trembling heavily during my first (emergency) c-section and I wish someone had told me that the trembling was due to the epidural I’d already been on for some hours and not anything to worry about. It didn’t happen on the second.
  7. Given my experience with the first birth, I didn’t make a birth plan with the second. I felt this would help me to just roll with the experience. I was however encouraged by my midwife to keep talking to her about my birth preferences, and we put my preferences in order (e.g. I was not willing to try an induced birth again).
  8. After the planned c-section was agreed my midwife supported me to still try to have a natural birth, e.g. scheduling the later of the two recommended dates for the c-section and giving me a cervical sweep to try to get labour going naturally.  Although it didn’t work, I was happy that I’d been supported to cover all the bases and felt very content going into my c-section.

So that’s it really. I was lucky with supportive family and friends, a great partnership with my midwife (thanks Steph!), a fab hospital (thanks GSTT!) and a party anaesthetist.  It’s not always so easy for everyone and I don’t pretend it is.  But hopefully some of these ideas may help someone else have a c-section that is fine too.

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