Some things I wish I had known about caesarean births
As the 3rd anniversary of my own caesarean birth is fast approaching I found myself this morning in the shower looking at my scar, running my finger tips over the faint line where my son entered the world and noticing the still existing numbness around the area. I remembered how I didn't know about this lasting nerve damage before I had my own caesarean birth which inspired me to write today's post.
Let me begin by saying that the life of my little man who's 3rd birthday we are soon celebrating was saved by his caesarean birth. How he came into this predicament is an entirely different story and one that I will share on another day. This post is all about sharing a personal account of some things that I have learnt after my caesarean birth and which I feel may help other women to be aware of if they are having one, either by choice or not.
1. Going back to the beginning, you will likely experience lasting, possibly life long nerve damage around the scar. In the early days and weeks after my caesarean I was perplexed how I could feel nothing almost right up to my belly button when I touched my skin. This experience is more severe for some women than it is for others and what it takes is time for those nerve endings to heal and grow back together. Some w
omen are lucky and sensation returns almost fully and for some the insensitivity remains forever, or at least in some areas. For me sensation has mostly returned except in the area on and around my scar. It still feels funny to touch and will likely remain that way for the rest of my life.
2. Day 1 post caesarean birth is the hardest day to get through in terms of the discomfort. I will never forget the moment my midwife came to see me the next morning after I had my son to help me out of bed and get showered. Oh my! No one could have prepared me for the feeling of being completely incapacitated by not being able to use any stomach muscles to sit up or move myself, feeling a sharp, hot pain at every movement despite strong pain killers. Walking over to the shower from my bed, slowly shuffling one foot in front of the other, the severity of what I had been through hit me...it felt like my body had been through a battle. But the good news is: It all gets easier after that, your first time getting out of bed and showered will be the worst.
3. If you want to, you can go home after two days following a caesarean birth provided you and your baby seem to be well. I was told that I could go home if I was able to cope with paracetamol and ibuprofen as pain relief and it felt SO good to be in my own bed with my baby with much more support than I had at the hospital. This will feel different for each woman and family but I didn't enjoy seeing a different midwife every time I needed something (and you need LOTS of help), having to explain why I wanted my baby on me rather than in the cot and my son going through lots of different hands. My physical and emotional recuperation began once I was back at home with my family.
4. If you rest and don't overdo it during week 1 and 2 post operatively, you'll be AMAZED by how quickly your body is recovering. I remember being in awe at my body and how I began to feel stronger and in less discomfort each day. Our bodies are so powerful! But - if you don't give yourself at least 10-14 days where you take it easy, rest as much as you can, don't get up too often especially without help, don't walk steps in the house up and down several times a day then you can expect your overall recovery to take longer. By 4 weeks you'll be able to move around almost as normal although it is only the beginning of your overall physical recovery. My lower back is still suffering today from the overuse post caesarean as I didn't use my stomach muscles for a long time.
5. The 'overhang' of skin above your scar will reduce or go away for most women. I remember looking in the mirror at my early postnatal body and being horrified at this 'flap' of skin hanging over my scar. No one had told me about that?! Again, with time and healing it disappeared for me but even if it hadn't I would have learnt to embrace my new body with its battle scars...my caesarean birth has taught me a lot about that.
6. You'll be amazed at how over time your scar will become very faint, almost non-visible unless you look for it. I had quite a long and big scar due to my son being in a transverse position at the time of birth and I still remember how grotesque my lower body looked in the early days post birth, like it had literally been stitched back together. Well I guess it had! But today my scar is nothing but a faint line that I do notice every day although with feelings of peace.
7. Last but not least, here comes the most important thing that I have learnt about caesarean births: MAGIC still happens when a baby is born via caesarean birthand it deserves to be celebrated, acknowledged, respected and felt just like a vaginal birth. You are giving birth, woman and you are contributing, giving more to this birth than no one could ever ask of you.
I could write a lot more about caesarean births from the emotional recovery to things that can make a true difference to your experience but I hope that the things I wrote about today will be of some aid during your recovery post caesarean by understanding what is normal or in your decision making process of whether to have one. It's no walk in the park, that much I can tell you, lady.
To find out more about my work with families across the Central Coast as a birth & postnatal doula check out my website or don't hesitate to get in touch...I LOVE meeting new families and having an obligation free chat about the 'magic' of dedicated support at this special time of welcoming a new family member.