When Baby was Born: 3 Tips to Help Recover from a C Section

An Emergency C Section Birth Story – 3 Tips for Caesarean Sections. C Sections are long and complicated topics – this is the start of my story. Lately, my C Section scar has been giving me grief. It’s not so much sore as it is irritating. I’m blaming the awkward humidity we’ve been having lately but really I’ve no idea what’s causing the gentle numbing tingling. More often than not though I forget that the scar is there. It healed well and I remember my obstetrician saying that she was very pleased with the four inch straight line as I lay on the operating table.

A was born by Emergency C Section on a damp and dreary Wednesday in October, in 2013. This was clearly not in my birth plan! In fact, a C Section was something I blatantly refused to imagine would ever be a possibility. Either through fear or ignorance I decided that I simply was not having a C Section so I didn’t prepare for one at all. At all! I’m not exactly Mother Nature.

You would imagine that working as a senior library assistant in a maternity hospital would mean I have a wealth of knowledge on obstetrical and gynaecological conditions. Yes, while I know and claim to understand a fair amount of issues, everything went out the window once that stick screamed pregnant. Everything I knew melted away and I claimed ignorance. Pregnancy and child birth is frightening and I really didn’t need to remember complications and conditions that could make my pregnancy difficult or dangerous. After all, being pregnant is the most dangerous state a woman can be in. I didn’t need the reminder.

Small Baby? Big Baby? Questions, Questions

Throughout my pregnancy A was classed as a small baby. I had very little to complain about being wonderfully neat and glowing. I had crappy morning sickness that only gave me a two week break in the July but I suffered through it, learning how to discreetly retch or vomit into my handbag on the bus to work at 7:45am – gross I know, but what can you do when you’ve forgotten a plastic carrier bag and all you have is your handbag or the hoodie of the guy in front of you! I lost three handbags and a mug over that pregnancy! Despite the usual kidney infections, morning sickness and regular aches and pains and troubles of pregnancy, I managed well. Especially when I developed a craving for BBQ Rib Doritos, I was a happy lass on my first pregnancy.

Rotunda Hospital, Dublin

Every appointment was a dream in the Rotunda Hospital as I visited my obstetrician in the Private Clinics. I realise that as I work in the Rotunda, you may consider me to be a little biased to what I consider the wonder of the Rotunda but I enjoyed my experience there regardless of how the actual birth went down. Everyone has issues with hospitals, and the choice you make of which maternity hospital you go to is a big decision.

For me, there was no decision. I worked there, it was beyond convenient and I trusted the staff. I know my colleagues to a certain level (although there are 600+ staff so obviously I don’t know everyone) but if you’ve read my post on Insecurities you’ll know that I’m not the most talkative or social person (in fact, I have, for the 9th year running, skipped the annual staff BBQ – apologies but I’m sure you didn’t miss me again!) And while they are my colleagues, I tend to keep myself to myself and am relatively private – until I started writing this blog that is!

I chose my obstetrician much like everyone else, I googled their name and read recommendations on forums from unknown internet strangers. Of course, I had my short list but ultimately was very happy with my choice of consultant. So being a Rotunda staff member, didn’t necessarily have any impact on my decision to stay in the Rotunda. I was, after all, new to the arena as a patient, new to being pregnant for the very first time, and everyone and everything in the building had a new and different slant for me.

I had never stepped foot inside the private clinic and to this day I still get lost around the wards (the building is a maze.) But most importantly to my story, I was scared and nervous and decided to know little. A Cesarean Section was never really mentioned throughout my pregnancy. Everything was going OK but things don’t always go to plan.

Regardless, a section wasn’t in my mind at all. I was however booked in for an induction on my due date as A was a small baby and my obstetrician didn’t want me to go any further. That’s grand, I thought, we’re almost there. A million women have done this before me, it’ll all work out.

C Section Recovery Tips Over Heaven's Hill Parenting Blog
The countdown was well and truly on. I miss that gorgeous hair!

My Induction was Not Nice

The induction … sucked. I’ll be honest I hope I never have to go through that again. Awkward, uncomfortable and painful. I was attached to the trace machine for hours, small break, back on it again, small break, back on it again. Of course, you’re attached to this machine and you’re worrying because no one else in the ward is on it as long as you. You’re listening to this rhythmic beating and just hoping that it’s meant to sound like that. No one gives you information because answers will stress you and baby out, regardless of the answer.

I started bleeding at midnight and was told that it can happen from the induction, not to worry and just keep an eye on it. But to me there was just a bit too much blood to causally toss it to the side like that. I worried and worried and worried. Stage two of the induction occurred at 8am and I was still bleeding. It was unusual I was told but that was why I was still on the trace machine. I went through pad after pad after pad – apologies to the squeamish.

Despite it all, I failed to progress and developed clots. I was frightened because I was bleeding so much and was praying that my consultant would arrive and deliver our baby. B was incredible, he arrived back in at 8am having been asked to leave at 11pm the night before. He kept me calm and supported me even though he was just as nervous and scared and knew just as little as me. At 2pm my consultant arrived, suggested that B wait outside as we had a giggle over his fears of childbirth (as all man have!) and blood, blood, blood. So B stepped out, examination took place and she simply said, “its going to be an emergency C Section.” And now.

My face dropped, I’m sure I turned a hellish grey and I simply cried. This wasn’t how I wanted my first baby to be born. I feared the complications, the surgery, the pain, and everything that was unknown to me about c sections. If only I educated myself. If only I had left my ignorance at the door and prepared myself for what could be a possibility for my safety and the safe arrival of our child.

At 2:10pm B came back (he ran to shop and bought a sandwich – clever lad! Turns out he would have needed that extra jolt of energy to get him through the next bit). I was talking to the anesthetist and was being prepped for lines (of course this was complicated due to a knot in my veins which I now often rub in memory of that day). By 2:30pm I was brought to theatre, given tablets and water, which I obligingly took because you do what your told in these situations and don’t ask questions – or at least I don’t.

Time for a C Section

The team in theatre, my obstetrician, the anesthetist were all simply incredible. In fact, they had me laughing at various points as they prepped me for surgery and my obstetrician was teasing B for being “the colour of the walls” as he waited outside – the walls are white FYI 🙂

I had zero time to think about what was actually happening and I remember gently shaking as I sat on the table as the epidural was administered. A theatre nurse came over to me and held my hands and told me not to worry. Her poor hands were white by the time I let go, I held on to her that hard. The staff danced around me – at one point a staff member noticed who I was and said “Oh look, it’s our librarian,” I felt a little on show then! – they seemed to effortlessly glide with instruments and ice cubes as they tested if I could feel anything in my legs and abdomen (a trick I was confused about and then realised what was happening – I was oddly impressed with the ingenuity of using an ice cube. I thought they’d use pins!) The anesthetist said as she was handed three ice cubes, “three, I only need one, don’t you know we’re in a recession!” which made me laugh.

And suddenly, they ushered B in and he was sitting by my side, holding my hand, asking me was I OK. The tears and worry he had seen before I entered theater were gone and I said “Jesus epidurals are amazing” and laughed. Everything was over in seven minutes. A was born at 3:03pm, a time we will never forget. She was perfect and beautiful. She still is.  I had a slight hiccup with vomiting on the table after the surgery but as far as I know they simply lowered the dosage of whatever drug I was on and I was hunky dory again.

 

C Section Recovery Tips

The Doting Dad – A Daddy’s Girl from the very first second. If you’re interested in reading about B’s side of the story, he worked with Claire from The Pramshed who runs a series on her blog called The Partners Experience. Check it out, if you want to know what the man gets up to while the woman produces a human being and expunges it from her body!

 

tea and toast c section recovery tipsA devastating part of my C Section experience happened that evening when I was offered Tea and Toast – ahhh the golden chalice of tea and toast after having a baby. I had heard so much about it and I had been lusting after it. I had, after all, eaten nothing since 5pm the day before. However, three sips of tea and a bit of toast and I was vomiting again – Pooey!

Having not prepared brought so many complications to my first few months as a mother – pain, bonding, feeding and emotional upheaval. I often wonder, if I had prepared better for all eventualities of A’s birth would I have been more prepared to deal with the day to day life and consequences of the birth? I admire those women who have birth plans and know exactly how they would like the birth to go and if it doesn’t, how their plan B keeps them prepared and focused at such a momentous time.

If it were to happen again though there are three things I would do – plus a million others so this wont be my last post on  C Sections. But these three are near enough essential for those first few weeks during recovery. Next time, I’ll listen to myself.

Don’t Lift

You’re not supermom and those stitches could easily burst open. Two weeks after the section I was lugging the baby’s car seat and buggy from door to door. I got a right telling off from my Mum who caught me one day. Of course I said “Ah sure, I’m grand.” In hindsight, the risk is just not worth it. I was lucky to not cause myself any damage. Don’t be an idiot like me and just don’t lift any heavy loads. Which leads me on to my next point.

Ask for Help

Having a baby is tremendously hard on your body. They say it takes up to a year for your body to fully recover from the trauma and experience of it all. Throw abdominal surgery into the mix and you’ll do well to ask a friend or two for help. I was lucky that after B went back to work my mum came to our house and helped me get some much needed rest from exhaustion and to recuperate from the c section and those first few exhausting weeks. She would arrive about 9am or 10am and with a hug and a smile she’d hop back into the car and drive home just before B came home from work. Those two weeks were immeasurable. Not only did my mum help with caring for A and teaching me a thing or two about babies, she also gave me a confidence. By the middle of week two she would come to my house and simply kept me company. I failed to notice but she had gently stopped caring for A as I took over and she looked after her own daughter instead. She made me realise that, yes, I could do this. I can be a good Momma Bear.

Once those two weeks were up, my folks jetted off to Spain, followed by Christmas and then they were gone again to visit my brother in Australia. They had four very busy months. I didn’t realise how much I relied on my parents and as my maternity leave moved on, I didn’t ask anyone else for help when I desperately needed it. By the January I was suffering from mild postnatal depression and still I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. 

It does you no good to suffer on your own. Just ask.

And the one thing I did do:

Take your Meds

My obstetrician sat on my bed after surgery and said “take everything they throw at you.” And I second that. You can’t do it without medication. If you know you’ve missed a dose, ask for it. It helps. I managed relatively ok with the pain after about day three or four but those first few days are painful, plain old painful. Take those happy popping pills and you’ll be ok.

C Section Recovery Tips
This is my secret hidden birth pic – I swore no one would ever see this picture. Before this photo was taken I insisted that every picture with A in my arms was only to be taken of A, Momma Bear discreetly hidden. I didn’t want to be in any of them. This was taken after my first shower in the hospital. I had just washed my hair and felt great! My Dad insisted on taking a picture of me with A because my Mum and Dad said I’d regret not having one of the two of us at this stage. They were right. However, it always gives me a fright as to how sick I looked after having A. I dropped back to my normal weight before we left the hospital and felt the sting of exhaustion.
I attribute the Emergency C Section to a number of postnatal experiences which I will talk about in more detail in posts down the line but its good to put them out there for now:

Low Mood turning into Mild Post Natal Depression

Lack of Bonding with A

Failure to Breastfeed

Emotional Distress at the idea of having not given birth

Feeling of Failure

Post Traumatic Stress

However despite these experiences I would have another C Section. I would just prepare myself more. C Sections are long and complicated topics so for now I’ll sign off this post and I’ll attach any new links to this post when I have my thoughts focused and my experiences clear on the page for you. Sign up to follow my blog if you’d like to read more in the future.

I would love to hear your experiences of ECS’s or CS’s. How did you feel after and would you have another section?

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46 Comments

  1. Well that all sounded very familiar, although our emergency section was because little one’s head got a bit stuck and he was getting a bit distressed so after 24hrs of nothing progressing they whipped him out!
    All of the post natal experiences you described in your list were the same in our house too – my other half never got the birth experience she had expected / planned and it took her a long time to get over that. 9 months of planning one outcome and then about 20 minutes to come to terms with something completely different!!

    1. Thanks james. The quickness of it can be very frightening and as you say there’s no time to prepare. I had every faith in the medical staff but it’s still a worrying time. Almost 3 years later I’m still dealing with the emotional aftermath of it. But when I look at A I’m so grateful for everything they did in the Rotunda for me and A.

  2. Just reading this brought back all the memories of my c-section having failed to progress after an induction, it was scary, I lost a lot of blood and felt like I couldn’t breathe. But at the end of the day, our baby was healthy, and had this been 50 years ago it might have been a very different outcome. It must have been such a relief to have all the support after the birth, you need that. I’m so glad that everything is well now, and you have moved on from it all. I must admit that my scar has been so itchy lately. Thanks so much for referencing back to The Partner’s View in your post, your husband did a brilliant job recapping the experience. Claire x

    1. Thanks Claire, and thank you again for collaborating with B on The Partners Experience. You’re right, I hadn’t thought about what could have happened if we were in a different time. We’re very lucky and I’m so thankful to the staff.

  3. Gosh I cant imagine how scary an emergency section must be. I was induced with my first and was lucky that it went OK (apart from the Forceps!) and hurray for epidurals. I also vomited the tea and toast which was disappointing! Your hidden birth pic is beautiful – you look radiant.

    1. Oh thank you Beth! I debated a long time about posting that picture because I hate it but I’m being open and honest with my blog and for me that’s as open as I can get! A’s birth luckily wouldn’t put me off having more children or having another C section.

  4. We never had to have a C section with any of ours, but your story struck a chord. We couldn’t have survived the first child without our parents and any of the others even if they just took the kids out for a couple of hours to have some one on one with the baby (at the time), which for how weird it might sound, it gave us a chance to catch up. This help d ease some of the post natal depression.

    1. I agree the support my parents gave us was immeasurable and they still give us that support along with B’s aunt who minds A while we’re at work. It takes a village after all! But I’m not sure we’ll ever reach five like you! I don’t know how you do it 🙂 my sister has four so I tend to say that she took some of my quota 😀

      1. 😀 five is not as difficult as it might appear, it really busy though. We have and still learn a lot from our eldest, having two was quite easy. The transition from two to three was really difficult. By number four we had a semblance of a routine in place and it all seemed to fall into place. It was all really strange. What does your sister say about the transitions?

  5. I ha c section too and literally had support for he whole 6 weeks; I don’t know how I would’ve managed lifting Lily etc without it; my husband and parents took it in shifts so I was never alone just in case! I lived 3 floors up with no lift when I had Lily so I never would’ve managed getting her up and down those!

    1. Oh that’s fantastic that your husband and parents helped you so much. It’s really essential to have that support for those weeks. It is after all abdominal surgery! I’ll be honest I didn’t take into consideration how severe the surgery actually is

  6. That must have been a scary experience for you, especially being your first baby. I know how scary bleeding is alone, I bed a lot with my third and was taken straight to the theatre incase I needed a c section. They thought I had a low placenta, turned out my placenta had come away from the wall and was delivered ontop of my daughters head. #thelist

    1. Oh Charlotte that must have been terrifying. It’s amazing how quick they are to react and deliver your baby safely. I do credit the hospital staff with helping me during my delivery and bringing our little girl safe into the world.

  7. Gosh what a hairy ride you had but thank goodness your baby is safe and sound. A great friend had the most terrible experience with her daughter. She hasn’t really got over it though it was 11 years ago. About 4 days in hospital 3 of them in labour before finally a C section and recovering in dirty and noisy ward and very bad PND. Your OH and Mum sound amazing, also the photo of you with your daughter is great – one day you will look at it and see how beautiful and young you are! Thanks for sharing such an emotional story Jo x #fortheloveofBLOG

    1. Oh my gosh that is absolutely horrific 🙁 my heart breaks for her. Giving birth should be a beautiful time but we all know someone who has had a difficult labour or birth. It’s fairly common place and I feel lucky that things weren’t all that bad for me and A when I look at it objectively. Thank you about the pic, I hope you’re right. Believe it or not I’m 30 in that picture! I think I shrank in hospital!

  8. Fab post, my little girl was born by C-section as she was breech and I’ve had that weird feeling in the scar this past week. Well done you for getting through it and fab tips – especially to take your meds! I was forgetful a few times and paid for it eeeks x #fortheloveofBLOG

  9. I had a c section. It was a planned c section from early on (due to medical reasons). However, the c section went from being planned to being an emergency as I ended up going into labour a week prior to my scheduled op. I was terrified. It stayed with me for a long time and it’s only now, nearly 3 years on that I can talk about it and it doesn’t affect me anymore. There are some really great tips here. Especially with the medication. Oh and I’d tell anyone who would listen to drink peppermint tea and take the peppermint medication they can offer you. Helps wind pain enormously. Great post #sharingthebloglove

    1. I haven’t heard of using Peppermint! fantastic tip. That must have been very frightening going into labour when you knew you should have a c section. Its a hard thing to come to terms with isn’t it?

  10. I can relate to this – I had an ‘unplanned’ c-section due to an un-diagnosed breach in Nov 14 and my scar can be very itchy – particularly when it’s hot or when it is very cold – not sure what the solution is but hopefully it will get better in time. Thank you for the great tips #sharingthebloglove

  11. Its brilliant that you felt able to share your experience with everyone. All birth stories are different, but there are usually elements that overlap and people can relate to them or prepare them for what they may experience. I think that there should be more done for pregnant ladies to prepare them of anything that may happen. Yes, we may all hope that everything is text book, but sadly that is rarely the case. Thank you for joining us again for #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x

    1. Babies have their own ideas about how they’re going to generate the world so being prepared is always going to be tough. It’s hard though isn’t it? We’re all pretty amazing for what we’ve done to deliver our babies

  12. It’s wonderful that you shared this – I think it’s not often that you read such a detailed account of a c-section (or I haven’t anyway), and I think that probably explains why it always seems to come as such a surprise – the details are often skirted over and it’s all a bit of a mystery. So often people expect that after any kind of birth you’ll be back on your feet straight away, but it’s a hugely physical thing and we should all allow ourselves time to recover. Thanks so much for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. I genuinely had no idea what a c section would be like and I’ll never fret the pain the following morning. I couldn’t stand up straight for the pain and it too so long to walk just a couple of feet. It’s so important to be prepared, physically and mentally. Thanks for the link up

  13. Oooh I wept at this. I think I weep at every birth story! Women are amazing, aren’t we?! I’m so glad that you felt supported by the staff at the hospital. My first birth, I was a possible c-section case so I had 2 birth plans (a natural one and a surgery one!) but I don’t think, as a first-timer, you can ever really be prepared for either. I’m sure lots of people will benefit from your hindsight and advice. #SharingTheBlogLove

    1. Birth Stories can be pretty powerful! Took me a long time to write this post, and it brought up so many emotions. The staff really were incredible and it was an amazing moment when we first saw A.

  14. It sounds like you were in good hands, during the section and after with your Mum.
    I was the same as you and refused to look into C sections. I didn’t have one, but came close. Squidge was induced at 2 weeks over and ended up being evicted with forceps. I swore I’d never be induced again. On the day I was going for my check up for Boo (who was already 5 days over) I had my speech prepared, “What happens if I refuse an induction…” Luckily for me she decided to save me the trouble and came that day, with the birth plan I’d had for Squidge. So much better (still painful, but I felt much more in control and 7hours vs 3 days has to be a winner).
    Nice to be able to read about your experience. Welldone on the showcase feature! Xx
    #Sharingthebloglove

    1. I had so much support thankfully, I don’t think I’d have managed otherwise – actually, no, mothers are pretty awesome so I probably would have managed albeit with a bit of struggle and tears 🙂 I hope never to go through an induction again if I’m honest. I’d refuse one also! Fair play to you for being ready to stand up and say no!

  15. I had an emergency c-section with my first too and I think they waited too long to decide to do it. His heart rate kept dipping and they waited until it dipped and didn’t come back up before operating. It was such a frightening experience and something I don’t think anyone could ever fully prepare for. It’s great that you have shared your story to help others who are dealing with this too. No one can really prepare you for the recovery and the sickness is rotten too. I had planned sections with my other two after my first experience and they were so different, still long recovery but much less frightening at the time! #sharingthebloglove

    1. Oh that is so scary! I’m so sorry it was so frightening for you. I can’t imagine how that felt. I’ve heard that a planned c section is a lot easier. The recovery is very tough regardless. I’ve never been so happy for morphine!

  16. A fascinating post for me. I had an emergency c-section too, although for different reasons.

    Although I found recovery fairly straight forward in the physical sense (completely agree re meds, btw, take them all! On time!) I too had deeper emotional scars. I suffered PND and severe anxiety and pretty much had a mental breakdown 9 wks postnatal. The section wasn’t the only cause but definitely contributed as it interfered with bonding which in turn led to anxiety attacks.

    However, I hope to have another child and if I do I think I will actually opt for an elective section. It was the emergency part that led to so much hardship and I don’t want to risk that happening again, would rather go for a nice, calm elective. Controversial I know but I’ve been through too much to be told what to do lol! 😉

    Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story xx #sharingthebloglove

    1. I absolutely agree with you Laura. The emergency c section doesn’t put me off having another c section and in fact because I think I know what to expect I know I’d manage better the second time round. I found the bonding the hardest and really struggled with that too. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me

  17. Our c-section was semi-planned. Peachy was a breech baby but I still planned to deliver her vaginally. I was that terrified of c-sections. I also convinced myself that it wasn’t going to happen. I just closed my mind to it. After 6 hours of labour, the doctor and one helpful nurse convinced me that it would be safer for Peachy to proceed with the c-section. The doctor on call simply didn’t have that much experience with breech deliveries and I was progressing too quickly to hold out for the next shift when a more experienced doctor would arrive.

    It was scary at the time but not nearly as bad as I had imagined. I too had an amazing nurse that led me squeeze the life out of her while I was having contractions during the anesthesia procedure. And the drugs made me sick as well. I couldn’t keep anything down for a few hours. I hear that’s normal. My scar was strangely numb for some time but the feeling seems to be coming back now. I feel almost the same as I did before the surgery, except that I’m a mom an life will never be the same again. 🙂

    1. Birth is such an incredible thing and I must admit I am very glad that we live in the age we do. Without the doctors and nurses I wonder if complications would have been more severe. Thank you for sharing your story, I think it’s important to talk about the birth especially if it is in any way dramatic to help you cope with the outcomes of it.

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