Here's how it all happened: I'd been back and forth with my decision about how to give birth and after speaking to my midwife, a VBAC specialist midwife (VBAC stands for vaginal birth after cesarean) and various other mums with a variety of birth experiences here's what I had decided:
1. I didn't want to be induced
2. If I went past my due date I would have a cesarean
3. If my labour started and seemed to be progressing then I would have 10 hours to deliver, otherwise I'd have a cesarean
Overall I was fairly happy with this plan. Knowing that I wouldn't have a really long labour again, and that I was giving myself the opportunity to do what "normal" women do and have my baby naturally was the best way forward for me.
Of course my baby had other plans and all the soul-searching, VBAC research and planning went out of the window when she was confirmed as breech at 38 weeks. Gahhhhhhhhh! So we booked in for a planned cesarean 5 days later.
I'm pleased to report that my experience of having a cesarean this time couldn't have been more different. Waking up in the morning knowing that I was having my baby that day was really exciting, and the fact that we could get the twins organised with childcare was a big relief. In terms of the actual operation it was very calm and organised, there was music on, and the medical staff were all aware that my epidural had been inadequate last time and that I'd had a large blood loss. Because of this I had a spinal block rather than an epidural and the anesthetist took the time to ensure that I really couldn't feel anything. I even had that "have they started?" moment (they had!). Most importantly I got to see my baby as soon as she was out and she was lying on my chest having skin to skin contact straight away - all things I had totally missed out on last time. I was in recovery for about 20 minutes (in contrast to 3 hours with the twins) and the midwife fed me Belgian chocolates as I gave my daughter her first feed. Bliss!
36 hours later we were home and after 2 weeks I didn't even feel like I'd had surgery.
Here's my top tips for a cesarean birth:
- Don't beat yourself up about it! This is not the easy way out, you're not "too posh to push" (presumably!), this is the safest way for your baby to be born and who cares how you give birth?? Probably only you. Give yourself a break
- If you have any concerns tell the medical staff about them. I had a pre-op appointment 2 days before where I got to meet the anesthetist and talk through the procedure
- Have a really good dinner the night before as you won't be allowed to eat or drink until after you've had the baby
- Take a book - although we'd got there at 7:30am we waited all day to go to theatre and it was the longest day of my life!
- High-waisted granny pants are a must. Buy them in a larger size so that they are nice and comfy
- Have your baby in your hospital bed with you so that you can easily pick them up when they need feeding
- Say yes to painkillers every time they are offered! Take paracetamol and ibuprofen alternately every 2 hours for at least 10 days
- The spinal block made me really itchy (particularly my face) - this is totally normal, but no one mentions it!
- If you want to breastfeed, feed all the time in the first few days to get it going. When my milk came in (day 4) it was really painful, but only lasted 24 hours until it was much more comfortable. Bear with it and ask for help
- Press your buzzer and get help with everything - I got them to wind her, change her, pass me my phone, get me a snack...
- The next morning when my catheter was out I could get out of bed and have a shower. You'll need to move slowly and stop if it hurts, but you should be fine to do this on your own. I was walking about fairly normally by the time we went home
- Take care of your back: you won't have any support from your stomach muscles so your back can get really sore. Hunching over when breastfeeding is really easy to do - put pillows behind you, bring the baby to you and drop your shoulders (mine always seem to creep towards my ears)
- When you get home take your baby to bed and stay there for a couple of days. I didn't do this the first time and my recovery was a lot slower
- If you don't want visitors, just say no!
Right, now to work out how to deal with 3-year-old twins and newborn. I feel another post coming on!