In today’s post I am going to share my personal experiences of having an emergency and a planned c-section, and answer some of the most common questions.
My emergency c-section was caused by several factors
- I was still in labour 39 hours after my waters broke so infection was an increasing risk
- A was back to back
- I wasn’t dilating enough
I decided to have a planned c-section with L because I wanted to be out of the hospital the next day to get home to A – not stay in for 4 days again!
MY C-SECTION EXPERIENCE
Maybe I’m just a super chilled person but I honestly loved both of my birth experiences.
About halfway through my labour with A I realised it wasn’t really going according to any plan and that an epidural was probably best.
I spent the rest of my labour until I was rushed for a c-section sleeping with the sunshine coming in through the hospital window!
The actual c-section was more distressing for my mum and husband as the doctor gave me all the info on what could potentially go wrong and I was wheeled into theatre.
I can honestly say everyone in the room with me was lovely. We were all chatting and laughing until suddenly this tiny cry filled the room and I think my heart stopped for a few seconds.
Then I was being stitched up watching my husband with this tiny baby in his arms kind of shocked that in an instant I was now responsible for another human being.
Once I was stitched up A was placed on my chest for skin on skin and Luke followed us through to recovery where he stayed until I fell asleep.
Recovery wasn’t great – its surgery at the end of the day, it’s going to be painful but I could still easily pick up and carry A.
I didn’t miss out on any of the normal parent stuff, I just didn’t have to do any housework, bliss right!
Due to my waters breaking so early I had to stay in hospital for 4 days with A, at the time this was fine, I appreciated the midwife support and Luke visited all day every day.
When planning the birth of L I already had A at home so I didn’t want to be away for him for 4 days.
This was COVID-19 time so I wasn’t allowed any visitors (not even Luke) and I really just wanted to be in the comfort of my own home as soon as possible, especially now that I knew what to do with a new baby.
The planned c-section was very calm.
I arrived in the morning with 3 other women to be prepped while the surgeon decided who would be first.
Luckily this was me – you have to be nil by mouth from the night before and I get hangry!
This time I walked to the theatre and sat on the bed while they did the spinal and IV
I didn’t get the shakes this time but instead an urge to be sick. This did make me panic but I needn’t have worried as it turns out you can’t be sick during a c-section, just as you can’t cough.
The rest of the procedure and recovery was the same as with an emergency c-section.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A C-SECTION?
I’m not going to talk about the actual procedure and the technical aspects of having a c-section – I’m sure there is a horrifying video on YouTube somewhere showing this!
I can, however, tell you what happened from my perspective.
The main difference for me was that the emergency one was rushed and chaotic and the planned one was very calm and relaxed.
In either an emergency or planned situation once you’re in theatre you’re immediately prepared for surgery. There are a lot of people in the theatre room so I’ll do my best to note what they were all doing (I’m sure everyone did a lot more than this but I had quite a limited view from where I was so can only comment on what I experienced).
Midwife: they make sure you’re comfortable, chatting to you and your birth partner and making sure there isn’t anything you need. They also assist in getting the screen up to block off your view. Part of my wishes I had asked for this to be kept down (not sure if they would have) so I could see them being born and is my only regret from both of my birth experiences.
Anaesthetist: they make sure the anaesthetic is kicking in properly by spraying cold air on different parts of your torso to see where the feeling ends. They also gave me a shot of anti-sickness medication when I was panicking that I was going to be sick.
Meanwhile, there was a whole team preparing the room and my body. These were the people I had the least contact with but they were all lovely and reassuring.
IS A C-SECTION GIVING BIRTH?
Yes, there is no other answer to this.
No I didn’t push but I wasn’t ‘too posh to push’.
I would say I had a choice but I didn’t really, my baby wasn’t going to survive a natural birth so I was having a c-section.
I still carried my baby for 9 months (just under actually – little monster came out a day after I started maternity leave!)
They both came out of my body and I still had to suffer through recovery and now have a life-long scar to prove that they are both mine.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER?
Immediately after your baby will be placed on your chest and you are wheeled through to the recovery ward. This ward only has 4 beds and you will be monitored with extra support from the midwives as you still can’t move.
It took around an hour for the feeling to start coming back to my legs and I could move them around 3 hours after i went into the recovery ward
Once you’re ready to move you will be encouraged to try standing and I would suggest doing this as soon as possible.
It’s not as bad as you think it will be, youre just a little unsteady and weak because youre sore now.
You will normally be discharged the next day as long as there were no complications, and you and baby are fine.
Due to your limited mobility and risk of a blood clot, you will need at least 10 days of blood-thinning injections.
IS A CESAREAN PAINFUL?
Let me tell you, I was terrified of the epidural.
With my emergency c-section, I was too out of it to feel or care about anything. With my planned c-section I knew I was going to feel everything and was so scared.
I’m not going to sit here and say I didn’t feel anything and it didn’t hurt, but what I can say is that it wasn’t any worse than that horrid whooping cough vaccination they give you.
There is a sharp scratch when they numb the area and then some pressure with a little pain when they do the spinal but then it’s done and you can’t feel anything.
Something I want to make completely clear – THERE IS NO PAIN DURING THE ACTUAL PROCEDURE!
Don’t panic, they check several times whether you can feel anything on several parts of your body so the only sensation you’ll have while they’re getting baby out is a lot of pulling, tugging and pressure.
The most painful part of a c-section is the recovery, I’m not going to lie – it hurts!
The recovery was just as painful for the emergency and planned c-sections I have had, I just recovered quicker with my planned c-section because I knew what to expect.
There are some things you can do to make things a little easier for you during recovery though so make sure you check out my top tips for c-section recovery post.
RECOVERING FROM A C-SECTION
HOW LONG DOES RECOVERY TAKE?
It does take a while to recover from a c-section – at least 6 weeks. My doctor even said to me that its major surgery and I won’t be fully recovered for at least 2 – 3 months.
Don’t make the mistake I did and think you’re recovered before you are. At 4 weeks I felt great so I started to go about life as I normally would (including picking up a 19kg Jacob).
After 2 days of resuming normal life I started to get pain around my scar and abdominal pain. This was my body telling me I needed to slow down and rest so I listened. If I hadn’t I could have opened my internal or external stitches, becoming infected and ending up back in the hospital.
Check out my 5 top tips for c-section recovery post to make sure you’re doing everything you can to recover well.
WHEN CAN YOU HAVE A BATH?
You should wait 2 weeks to have a bath after a c-section because of your stitches and the risk of infection.
Also, you’re not quite mobile yet so getting in and out of a bath, even sitting up in a bath isn’t easy and puts too much pressure on your scar.
WHEN CAN YOU DRIVE?
You should wait until your 6 week check with a GP to drive after having a c-section
This was the hardest for me to overcome. Luke was back at work after 2 weeks and I don’t live near town – I don’t even live that close to any major supermarkets so this was stressful
I asked my doctor if I could drive any sooner and he said that the pressure of having to emergency stop or an accident could cause my scar to re-open. This didn’t really make sense to me because that would be the case whether I was driving or a passenger.
As with all advice, there will be people that ignore it and decide to drive before advised but bear in mind that most insurers won’t cover you before the 6 week mark. You need to speak to your insurance provider and check what their policy is before you get behind the wheel of a car.
WHEN CAN YOU HAVE SEX?
I know this is the question you’ve really been waiting for and it’s the same answer for any type of birth.
You should wait 6 weeks. Not only will you be super fertile immediately after birth (even if you’re breastfeeding – no this is not an effective contraception!), but you have a giant wound on the inside of your body (where the placenta was attached) and this needs time to heal. Having sex before 6 weeks increases your chance of this wound becoming infected.
I don’t care how good the sex is, potentially contracting an infection, having to go back into the hospital and maybe even needing an operation is not worth it!
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