Don’t Fear the C-Section

My son was born via emergency C-Section at almost midnight on a Tuesday in August, after 48 hours of induction nonsense, not a single push or any sleep.
Sounds dramatic doesn’t it EMERGENCY CESAREAN? It really wasn’t, it was all pretty calm and chilled and I had plenty of time to internalise and ask questions about what was about to happen. Thank god because I had not prepared for this eventuality in the slightest.

When I was first pregnant the idea of a Cesarean terrified me, actually terrified me, I would lie awake at night worrying that I would be the 1 in 4 who would have one. I thought it would kill me, I thought it would kill my baby. I thought the anesthetic wouldn’t work and I would feel them cutting into me. I thought I’d bleed to death, I thought they’d cut through my baby, I thought I’d die on the table before I got to see him.
It worried me so much that in the end I blocked it out. I mentally removed it from my brain, I didn’t even consider it, for me it was not a possibility. So much so that I didn’t plan for it, I didn’t educate myself about it. So naive was I in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to look at my C-Section scar for a whole week afterwards because I thought it was going to be this great massive hip to hip – stapled together flesh scar that I would never quite get over.
It wasn’t so much that I desperately wanted the natural birth experience, it was just my negative view of C-Sections clouding my rational thought process. I didn’t know anyone who had a cesarean, I had only ever heard negative things about them, I had only ever been told  ‘we hope that doesn’t happen‘ or ‘but don’t worry that is very unlikely‘.
It is not something that was ever discussed with me with my midwife and it was only briefly touched upon in the NHS antenatal classes. Sure we all spent an hour on floor doing a giant ‘natural birth’ process diagram/ jigsaw thing giving me all the information I already knew from basic GCSE biology and But what about the other stuff? What about the less common and the less ideal? I’m not saying they should scare expectant mothers with horror birth stories but lets get real here, C-Sections are a reasonably common occurrence and they should try to prepare us for that eventuality.

I, myself with no birthing experience had a negative and prejudice opinion of C-sections – how did I get that opinion? I think from the media and sadly also from my peers.
I have a really positive view of my birth experience and I am so sick to death of reading articles telling women that C-Sections are bad. Bad for them, bad for their baby, bad for bonding, bad for breastfeeding – bad even for society.
Bad Bad Bad, is basically the vibe every women is getting when it comes to cesarean births. So its no wonder I was filled with fear at the prospect of this horrendous thing happening to me.

Now look, I’m not here to tell you why C-Sections are good, if you want to know that then Google it and to be quite honest if you are in a situation where you need a Cesarean (emergency or otherwise) – the C-Section is good, its bloody fantastic because its a medical miracle that’s probably saving your and/or your baby’s life. I’m not on C-Section vs. Vag championing mission here. I just want to tell you from my own experience why you needn’t fear the C-Section. Why you don’t need to be afraid and that you should think about it, face up to the possibility and plan for it just, in case.
Here’s a few things I wish I’d knew before hand.
(all answers are from my own experience/opinion – I am not a doctor!)

How long does it take?
I had no clue how long it would be going on for. When I asked the midwife I thought she would say something like 3 hours. Yes I’m an idiot – I already declared my naivety! She said no longer than an hour, mine took 45 minutes. It went by so quickly, I remember looking at the clock in the theatre knowing that it would all be over by midnight, that this was the day he would be born after all! Forty five minutes is nothing, it’s the time it takes to watch one Downton Abbey or cook a lasagne. Put that into perspective- put that in your head right now- save it to the hard drive and file it away under ‘One Downton Abbey’. Plus you know, you’re really only scared for the first ten minutes, you don’t even notice the rest because then the baby is out and well you’re just really happy and relieved and your mind is on them and their eyes and their toes and if they have any hair or not.

Will I see it happening?
Yes if you want to, no if you don’t. They put up their big screen so you can’t see a thing. When you’re lying there all you can see is the ceiling, the lights and the smiley faces looking down on you. (Maybe all the shiny happy people were the drugs? I’m not sure…)
If you want to see though, they will offer or you can ask for a mirror for when the baby is taken out.
I opted out of this one but I might consider it on a re-run. I mean that’s a once in a lifetime experience right there – seeing a new life being pulled from your own body! Fuck gap years and bungee jumps – you can’t get more ALIVE than that.

Will my guts be hanging out all over the place?
No, no they wont. The surgeons aren’t opening up your entire abdomen, they are only cutting into your skin, fat and womb. Your baby is in your womb, not your stomach or your intestines.

Will I feel them cutting me open?
Sort of. This is a confusion I had about the epidural I thought it made you not feel anything, as if you were paralysed. That’s not what its like, you are not completely numb, you still have feeling. The tiny tube in your spine is pushing anesthetic to the nerves in the lower part of your body and it stops them from sending pain signals to your brain. So you don’t feel the pain but you may be aware of being touched or tugged. I was definitely aware of ‘pressure’ – but it was fine, you can find out more here.

Will I Be Out of Mind on Drugs?
Nope, sorry. Haha! I had an epidural and I was completely with it the whole time, although I did do a lot of talking (apparently…). I had conversations, I made informed decisions and very importantly I remember all of it. I was kind of jittery though, leg shaking that kind of thing but that could also have been the adrenaline pumping around my system.
They also give you drugs to stop nausea and sickness

Is the scar horrendous?
No, its like someone drew a 10cm line just above your pubic bone with a red biro. Yeah its that thin seriously. Two years on my has all but faded, up close you can just make out a faint white line – that’s it.

Will I Be in Pain Afterwards?
Kinda. I wouldn’t call it constant pain, I’d call it being really sore and tender. They gave me a lot of ibuprofen and co-codamol which I took every 4-5 hours for about 10 days after, so that really helped. You’re not in constant agony but if you move suddenly or cough/laugh you will feel sore, it will hurt. I also found walking a problem for about 72 hours. The best I could manage was from the hospital bed to the toilet, perhaps a metre or two, the car journey home was also incredibly uncomfortable. I’d say around 7-10 days you start to feel a lot better, you can walk around easier, start to carry things and cough as much as you like! They say you need to be careful for 6 weeks, no heavy lifting or driving which is safe but you are not hurting for that long don’t worry!

Will it hurt when I poop?
No actually, don’t be afraid to poop! You wont bust your tummy open! Its fine, I mean your abdomen is tender and your belly is sore but your bums alright isn’t it?
Does it hurt when they take the catheter out?
Again no. Its uncomfortable, you can feel it happening but seriously if you can tolerate the fisting that bitch midwife gave you when you were a week overdue, a teeny tiny catheter up your hoo-hah is a walk in the park.
What happens with after care?

Well my stitches dissolved so I didn’t have to have them taken out and my incision healed up nicely (which is the norm by the way). For the first week I had a big plastic/rubber sticky plaster thing over the wound, then once home the midwife visited, took it off, checked it out and that was it really. I had a bit of a panic when it ‘weeped’ a few times, I had it checked out only to be told it was nothing to worry about. In hindsight it was only a little bit and the fluid was clear blood but when your high on hormones and emotion you can get a bit extra freaked out by it all.
For seven days afterwards you have to have anti clotting injections in your leg, its just an injection into your thigh muscle, stings like a bitch just like normal injections. In the hospital they’ll stick you but when you go home you’ve got to do it yourself, or get your husband to do it like I did!
You also get given some pretty sexy compression socks, make sure you ask for extra pairs – they don’t last long and they want you to wear them for a while.

Once a C-section always a C-Section?
No certainly not, within 10 hours of the operation I had a Doctor stop by and tell me I could definitely have a natural birth in the future. At the time, it hadn’t even crossed my mind I just thought ‘are you fucking kidding me, I’m not EVER having another baby you lunatic!?’ but it is good to know that I have choices.

What’s the worst part?
Honestly, the worst part of it all was when I got home and I realised I couldn’t wash my own hair. I know that sounds so futile but I really cried about it. It was fine in the hospital because they had a lovely big wet room where I sat on a chair and had all this stuff to help me. But at home we had a shower over the bath situation and I couldn’t step up into the bath because it hurt too much. I couldn’t put my head over the bath or in the sink because of the pain so my husband washed my hair for me.

Great Sources for C-Section information:

Oh look my cute baby wearing a novelty baby grow! 😉

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