C-Sections & Me - Mums NI - A Hub For Parents in Northern Ireland

C-Sections & Me

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Written by Mums NI on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 Posted in: Pregnancy & Birth

C-Sections & Me

Having had two cesarean sections, I often get asked questions such as “why did you have c-sections?”, “what did it feel like?”, “are the scars big?”, “what was recovery like?” etc. In this “question and answer “blog, I will do my best to answer those questions I get asked most frequently.

Why did I have cesarean sections?

With the two of my pregnancies, I developed pre-eclampsia1. My cesarean sections were classed as an emergency with our daughter who was born at 27+2 weeks and as a planned emergency with our son who was born at 29+6 weeks.  Both were still emergencies though as both babies were born prematurely.

Our daughters delivery was  an outright emergency as my pre-eclampsia was so severe she needed to be delivered within hours of me attending the maternity unit. As my uterus was immature at 27+2 weeks, I had to have an inverted T-section.

With our son, my pre-eclampsia was picked up and monitored for 2 weeks prior to him being delivered, so they called it a planned emergency (even though they didn’t know exactly when it would be taking place). His delivery was a normal C-section.

What does a cesarean section feel like?

In a word, odd.  On both occasions I did not feel any pain whatsoever during the surgery. I received spinal blocks2 which rendered my body numb from the breasts down. There was a sensation of tugging and pulling which I was most definitely aware of, but no pain.  I felt pressure in my stomach area (not tummy) and thought I was going to be sick, but I wasn’t. I also felt cold and wanted my socks on.

How long was the surgery?

My first cesarean section was extremely quick. From the insertion of the spinal block to being sewn back up again, it was a total of 20 minutes. I kid you not. I have a feeling that the surgeon had to work fast as it was such an emergency.  The second cesarean section wasn’t as quick, but was still quick coming in at 35 minutes. Both surgeons were excellent and extremely neat seamsters.  

Were you naked during the surgery?

Guys, as with all deliveries, your dignity goes out the window, it’s left at the entrance door, it’s gone! Yes, during my surgeries I was naked from the waist down. I went in wearing my wee blue gown that was then, what I think (?), pinned up to create a curtain so that I couldn’t see what was happening. As far as I am aware my modesty was covered up with my tummy visible, for obvious reasons. My husband told me, when I asked, that I wasn’t on show. But do you know what? Who cares? As long as baby is delivered safely it doesn’t matter what’s on show.  

Was the same incision used both times?

No. I have two cesarean section scars. One very straight and the other, not so much. The gap between them is roughly 1cm. This took me a long time to accept. I felt like Frankenstein’s Monster.

Are the scars big?

Not really. Probably about 10 - 12 cm long. I don’t mind the scars as nobody can see them. They have left that part of my body in a strange shape though. Again, I don’t mind as my babies were delivered safely.  

What was the recovery like?

Slow and sore.

Recovery after the first surgery was very difficult for me. I had to remain in the bed hooked up to machines for 3 days post delivery. I felt like bambi when I was finally unhooked and up out of the bed. My scar felt tight and I was terrified to move through fear of opening the wound. I needed assistance to use the bathroom and to shower.  It took me roughly 8 weeks to be able to stand up straight without any pain.

The second time around I had to remain in bed hooked up to a machine for 1 night. I was out of the bed by night 2 and able to get to the bathroom independently. I found recovery second time around easier. I was able to stand up straight without pain by week 5, but was still unable to do any floor mopping etc until week 7/8.  

I refrained from driving until fully healed - when you can stomp hard with your feet on the floor without any pain! I dare you to try it. For me, this was about week 8.

Folks, on both occasions any sneezing, coughing, laughing and squeezing number 2’s was agony! Please, take all the help you can get regarding pain relief and stool softeners. I found using a cushion or pillow to cover my scar softened the blow a bit, especially when sneezing and coughing. I also used a small firm cushion held against my scar when in the car (under the seat belt) to help protect me against any bumps in the road.

Please note, everybody is different at coping with pain. I think I may have a low pain threshold as I know of ladies who are pain free days after surgery, or so they say. Remember, a cesarean section is major surgery. Don’t rush recovery, just take it a day at a time, you will eventually get there. There are no medals given out for the quickest to recover. TAKE IT EASY. TAKE THE PAINKILLERS.

Did you have any vaginal bleeding?

Yes. It was like a heavy period type flow immediately after the surgeries for about 5 days and then it went to a medium then light flow which lasted for weeks. I honestly thought it was never going to end. All in, I bled for 6 weeks.  I didn’t use any maternity pads, just always nighttime pads. I highly recommend using full sized pants as opposed to anything skimpy. It’s all about the comfort ladies. Big pants and trekkie bottoms.

How did you feel about having cesarean sections?

Now this is a toughie to answer.

At the time of my surgeries, I felt as if I hadn’t given birth, that my babies were taken from me. I felt like a failure. That I was a fraud calling myself a Mother. Psychologically, I was damaged and felt somewhat like a victim, a victim of what I don’t know exactly. It wasn’t a great experience for me, for us a couple or for us as a family unit. I felt depressed that my pregnancies didn’t complete naturally. It felt like there was a step missing from the process. I felt angry. In all honesty, I found them traumatic given that they were emergencies. It wasn’t a great introduction or follow up to parenthood.

Nowadays, I just feel grateful that both my babies are here. My deliveries are what they were, cesarean sections and the choice was taken out of my hands. I do sometimes still have the odd flitting emotion of feeling like a fraud or that I took the easy way out, but believe me sections are not easy - don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. I still can’t watch any programmes that contain deliveries of this nature as I find it unsettling.

In a way, I am also glad that I had cesareans as I’ve heard some horror stories of how ladies have been left after a vaginal birth and it doesn’t sound pretty at all. Having the opportunity to experience a vaginal birth taken away from me still makes me sad though, as if I missed out on such a wonderful, natural rite of passage into Motherhood.   

Would you have another cesarean section?

Most definitely yes. But that is easy for me to say as I know our baby shop is now shut. But yes if I was, hypothetically speaking, pregnant and going in for an elective section at full term I would feel in control, confident and ready for the challenge ahead as I'd know what's in store and how to deal with it.

I hope I haven’t frightened anyone with this blog as that was not my intention. I merely just wanted to give an account of my experiences of cesarean sections as so many people ask me about them. I have answered honestly, without the sugar coating.

 


"Pre-eclampsia - NHS Choices." http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Pre-eclampsia/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.

"Epidural and Spinal Anesthesia-Topic Overview - WebMD." http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/epidural-and-spinal-anesthesia-topic-overview. Accessed 15 Aug. 2017.

 

 

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