What does having a C-Section mean to you? have you had one? was it by choice, on medical advice or in emergency circumstances?
You may or may not be aware that April is in fact C-Section awareness month.
Before I had children of my own and had really had a chance to think about birth preferences, I already knew that there was a stigma around C-sections with terms like “too posh to push” being bandied around together with what seemed like an overwhelming assumption that those who choose to have a C-section by choice, were taking the “easy way out” and further that those who had a section upon medical advice or in emergency circumstances were somehow pitied and made to feel like that they somehow missed out on a “natural birth” and that they hadn’t been able to enjoy the privilege of having given birth……
Hmmm, well I’ve had three babies now an all in very different circumstances. My first baby became stuck and was classed as an “obstructed birth” he was in severe distress and his heart rate had plummeted and wasn’t picking up again. I was told I was being prepped for theatre. Did I care I wouldn’t have a vaginal birth or was I more concerned about the safe delivery of my baby by whatever means that took? Well, you know the answer to that. In the actual event the consultant rushed into the room and said that there simply wasn’t time to get me ready for surgery and that they had to get my baby out now. She performed an episiotomy, pushed my baby’s arm down from over the top of his head (this is what was obstructing his delivery) cut the cord that was wrapped tightly twice around his neck and pulled him out in one swift movement via a ventouse. It wasn’t a section, no, but how he arrived into the world was of little concern to me. They had saved his life and he was alive and well. That was all that mattered.
With my second son, I woke in the early hours experiencing regular contractions and I knew that labour was starting. I went to the bathroom and I noticed that I was passing quite a large amount of blood. I knew that this meant that we would have to go to the hospital sooner rather than later to be assessed at the very least.
I was in active labour and I was still bleeding what the midwives described as a “sizeable” amount of blood. I was told to lay on the bed where I was under constant monitoring of the contractions and the baby’s heartrate. It was horrible not being able to be active at all, but I understood the reasons why the monitoring was important.
The day in question was a particularly busy one on the labour ward and I was pretty much left to get on with things, with midwives popping in very now and then to see how I was getting on and to take my vitals. They explained that the consultants were doing their rounds and would hopefully be with me soon.
Time seemed to pass slowly, but eventually a consultant came in. he said he had read my notes and he was of the opinion that I was suffering from what is known as a placental abruption. What this means is that the placenta is detaching from the uterine lining prior to the birth and this can seriously compromise baby as it can starve them of the oxygen that they need. He advised that in the circumstances, I would require an emergency caesarean section.
Of course, I was terrified. I knew that the life of my unborn child could well be in the balance. Another team of midwives and consultants came in and started to prep me ready for surgery. It was all moving so quickly and I felt that I had no control over the situation whatsoever. I’ve seriously never been so scared in all my life.
I was taken into theatre where they explained about administering the epidural. This also terrified me. Not because of the size of the needle, but because I have a spine condition and had been under the care of a consultant during my pregnancy where it had been discussed that they were unsure as to whether I would be able to have an epidural or whether one would actually be effective on me. The anaesthetist was lovely and said he was really confident that he could administer the epidural effectively. I was still gripping my husband’s hand and sucking on the gas and air like my life depended on it. Not for pain relief, but more so because I was panicking and so bloody scared.
Then I was laid on the table, a blue cloth was placed literally over my face, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. There certainly wasn’t a feeling of “someone doing the washing up in my stomach” for me. There was tugging and pulling and an immense amount of pressure. It was a very unpleasant experience. Apparently I was losing a lot of blood. I could see a table in the corner with towels on it soaked in my own blood. I felt faint and I felt sick.
Then he was here and I heard my husband cry its a boy!!! they whisked him away to check him over and thank heavens he was absolutely fine. They wrapped him in a towel and handed him to my husband who brought him over to show me and we had a couple of obligatory photos taken. They then advised my hubby to go and wait in recovery with our baby whilst they fixed me back together. I didn’t get to hold my baby or have skin to skin time and I hated this.
I could feel myself drifting. I felt faint and very sick. I knew I was going to be sick and I said so. I was told to try and breathe through it. It was no good, I was definitely going to be sick. A bowl was placed by the side of my head and the only thing I could do was to turn my head to one side.
I was so sick I don’t recall being stitched up at all. The next thing I remember is a team of people literally hosting me like a beached whale from the theatre bed onto a ward bed.
I was then wheeled into recovery where my husband was with our son. He was now dressed and had been weighed and I’d missed both of these milestones, but I’m so glad that my husband got to stay with him.
Things did not go well in recovery. My blood pressure rocketed. my body went into shock and I was shaking uncontrollably and was continuing to be sick.
Once my blood pressure was stabilised I started to feel better and I was moved onto a ward. It was so different from my first birth though. I couldn’t stand up, I couldn’t pick my baby up for a cuddle or a feed. I couldn’t even roll over in bed without feeling like my insides were about to fall out. I was battered and bruised in the most awful way and I couldn’t even take care of my new born baby by myself. I certainly wouldn’t say that the C-section was the easy option by any stretch of the imagination.
The recovery too was a lot longer. My stitches burst and became infected. I needed regular daily injections for blood clotting. I was in agony. I couldn’t bath, shower or dress by myself, let alone take care of my baby my myself. So different from my first baby when I was up and about and doing everything for myself and him.
When it came to my third child, I was sure that I wanted to try for a VBAC. The C-section in my experience and opinion was a very tough ordeal and one that I certainly didn’t wish to repeat through choice alone. So a VBAC delivery it was, although again with a bit of assistance via ventouse.
While, a caesarean section may not be my go-to birth preference, Thank God for medical science and the fact that I was able to have a caesarean section, because if that hadn’t of been available to me then my baby and most probably myself as well, wouldn’t be here to tell the tale today. So for anyone who thinks that a C-section is the easy option and that people who have them are somehow copping out, I hope by reading my story, you perhaps might think again! I know some people choose to have a caesarean and that is their choice. I certainly don’t think any less of them as a person or a mother for doing so. In my experience it was the hardest of all three of my births.
Thanks for reading