In the never ending yet nonsensical mommy wars, apparently there is a fight over the “right way” to have a baby. It seems that some feel that having a c-section is the easy way out. Some have even gone so far as to say you really haven’t given birth if you’ve delivered by cesarean section. Hmmmm. I’m not hear to end the fight, but shed light on my experience because it seems there aren’t many articles sharing the good and bad of the c-section.
I can carry a pregnancy like a pro. My two pregnancies have been after the age of 35. At an advanced maternal age most people believe that automatically makes me a high risk pregnancy, but neither of the OBGYNs I had during my pregnancies viewed me that way. I was healthy, 30 pounds weight gain and good blood pressure.
During my first pregnancy I moved at six months from Arizona to Oklahoma. I started a new job, created a TV show and was so proud that I was able to carry my son full term without any complications. On my due date I visited my doctor. He did the cervix check and determined my son was going to be unable to pass through the gateway. It was hard and closed. No softening, no dilating, no nothing. It was stubbornly closed. My doctor said simply “you are not inducible.”
That is why we scheduled a c-section for 5 days later. For the second pregnancy, it was a no brainer for me to do a second c-section. You may think that was not a great choice, but I know it was the best choice for me. My cervix did the same thing this time around. No ripening, no dilating, stubbornly closed.
During my two c-sections I learned some things about the people in the hospital who will have the most impact on whether you have a good or bad experience. I had excellent care both times,and hopefully these tips will help you advocate for yourself and know what to expect.
Anesthesiologist: The anesthesiologist is very important to you during surgery. Obviously they prevent you from feeling the surgery, but they do much more. This is the person you are going to be communicating with the most. He/She will sit by your head, monitor your vitals and help keep you comfortable and calm.
I had a spinal block with both surgeries. The first time I was shaking like a leaf from nerves and tension. Not a good idea when someone is getting ready to stick a needle in your spine. The anesthesiologist made sure I was given warm blankets and that I understood what was going to be happening next.
I started to feel sleepy with my first spinal block. I knew that was not normal and I was able to communicate with the doctor so he knew how to adjust it. He also warned me that I would likely get nauseated and if I did to let him know. I did start to heave and he immediately gave me medication to end the nausea. That was amazing. It allowed me to feel well enough to take a picture with my boy.
The second time was similar. He told me exactly what I needed to do to make his job successful. The block worked just like it was supposed to. I was alert and ready when the surgeon came in. The anesthesiologist and I talked about the nausea before hand. He gave me medication, held a barf bag and gave me a play by play of the surgery so I would know when to expect the nausea to subside. (they’ve broken your water, they are pulling the babies head out, etc) This was helpful because my husband had no interest in seeing what was happening on the other side of the screen and even if he did watch he wouldn’t know what was happening.
My best advice is to communicate. Talk about your concerns. I prayed each time they stuck that needle in my back. It helped to keep me calm. Also, there is a nurse who will be helping you during that time.
The nurses: Let’s all take a moment to thank nurses. They are rock stars on the front lines of medical care. You will have a day nurse and a night nurse. They may be different all through your stay, but all want to know how they can help you. They cannot guess. What is the most important thing you need to communicate to your nurse each time you see them: your pain level. The first day the spinal block will keep the major pain away, but once it wears off oh sister it gets painful.
You have been cut open, your skin stretched so that they could pull a baby out of a small incision, your insides have been jostled and moved, and a lot of air has been introduced into your abdomen and as the gas moves it causes pain in your shoulders.
The day after surgery is the most painful. This time I was in a lot of pain early on. I got up and took a shower and I was struggling. My nurse that day worked hard to make sure we got my pain under control. She called the anesthesiologist and the OB, basically anyone she had to call to make sure she had orders for medication to ease my pain. There is no reason to suffer. You will not be able to take care of or enjoy your new baby if you are in pain. Don’t try to be a hero take the medication. Also, the sooner you get up and start moving the better your recovery. This will also impact your pain level, better to know what you’re facing in the hospital.
My best advice for those of you having a c-section is to speak up and ask questions. You are your best advocate. No one else knows what is happening with your body.
If you are facing a c-section and you are worried about the experience compared to a vaginal delivery I can’t give you a perspective on that, but I can tell you that when you hear your baby cry for the first time you will cry tears of joy just like every other mother has since the beginning of time.