Earlier this month I reached out to women in my circle and asked if they'd be interested in answering a few questions regarding their experience with birth. Thankfully, several of them agreed to help me with this little project and I'm happy to bring you their thoughts here over the next few days!
Each mama received the same ten questions and they were encouraged to answer as many or as few as they wanted, giving as little or as much detail as they felt comfortable with. Vaginal birth is often what we see depicted on TV or in movies, it's what the celebrities write about or what many women around us experience, but there's another side. I wanted to shine a light on cesareans this month and normalize it a bit.
Renee was the first to reply to my message and vulnerably shared details about when she welcomed her two sons into the world. Read on to hear from her directly. (Many people refer to cesareans as cesarean sections and abbreviate it to C/S which you'll see below.)
How many children do you have and how many were born via cesarean? Two children. Both were C/S.
If you’ve had more than one cesarean, were the others planned? If so, what was the reason? If not, what happened in the birth that ended up resulting with a repeat cesarean? The first C/S was not planned but the second was. I did not want to attempt a V-back since my first baby was 9 lb 15 oz and my OB said my second baby would be the same size; and he was at 9 lb 14 oz. After my first son was born my OB informed me that his head may have fit through the birth canal but that she likely would have needed to break his clavicle to get his shoulders out if we had done a vaginal birth. The reason we had the first C/S was due to an induction the night before my due date and laboring for 30 hours with only progress of 2 cm. So eventually we decided to just go get him.
Were you happy with your experience? If you’ve had more than one cesarean, were you happy with one and not with another? Explain? I was happy with my second C/S, but not the first so much. The first time since it was unplanned, I had been awake for so long and on anesthesia that I don’t remember much and felt delirious. I also remember feeling immense pain during my first C/S, not just the standard pushes and pulls. I think my anesthesia was not working properly. The pain came after he was born during the closing up procedure. My second C/S was much better. It was planned and was in the afternoon so there was time for rest and preparation. The anesthesia also worked well that time.
Have you ever experienced any shaming or questioning that made you feel uncomfortable after your cesarean? I ask this because many women have shared that they’ve almost felt bullied by other women who had vaginal births and have been told that cesarean was “the easy way out” or “not real childbirth”. I hate to even bring this up, but its a real thing in our culture and I’d love to hear your take on this if it is something you have experienced. I have not personally felt shame from other people, only internally. I’m a woman who lives by “shoulds” on a daily basis, so of course I went through the thought process: “I should have had a traditional birth”. I remember crying after deciding to have the surgery the first time after the 30 hour labor with no progress bc it wasn’t my plan. I eventually got over it when I saw how big my son was and realizing that my small body and my sweet baby would have likely gone through hell if we had done a traditional birth. I hold on to that today whenever I feel jealous of women who had a natural birth.
Were you able to do skin-to-skin with your baby immediately after the birth, even before leaving the operating room? I honestly don’t remember having it with my first born, I’m sad to say. I know for a fact we had skin to skin in post op for two hours. With my second, I know for sure we did have skin to skin during the closing up portion of surgery.
Was there a clear, see through drape between you and Baby at the time of the operation? The first C/S was a blue drape with no window. The second surgery had a blue drape and a window flap that they opened whenever he was delivered so I could see him.
If you chose to breastfeed your baby, were you able to try nursing your baby within the first hour after birth? Yes.
What was your recovery like: Better or worse than expected? More emotionally or physically draining than you were prepared for? My first recovery was a long road but that was because I had fallen on my wet front porch steps a couple weeks after surgery and took a hit to some nerves in my back that I have never fully recovered from. I am currently still in recovery from my second C/S and it has been better than the first time, although more challenging since I am chasing an almost three year old around all day.
If your cesarean was planned, did you feel well-prepared for the procedure itself, what to expect regarding recovery and was your healthcare provider willing to work with you to get the birth experience you desired? The first time felt more like a blur, so yes and no. The second time I would say yes and it felt more collaborative.
What are three things you’d like the world to know about cesarean birth? (If its too hard to narrow it down to three, list more!) First, It’s okay to ask for help, say “no” to things, and know your limitations. Even though you have an infant, your recovery is just as important. Second, A mother is a mother is a mother, no matter how that baby came into this world. Third, Belly-bands were my best friend. Fourth, It takes a few days to learn how to pee and shit again, be patient ;)