The first interview in my series for Cesarean Awareness Month is with Rebecca Hendrixson, the mother of a dear friend of mine. (She has a fun, sassy blog of her own - go check her out!) She’s experienced three cesarean births over the span of about ten years and while many things have changed in relation to how cesareans are approached since Rebecca’s experiences, there are still things today that could stand to improve. I’m grateful for her perspective on all of this and for her willingness to share this little bit of her story with the world wide web.
How many children do you have and how many were born via cesarean? I have three children and all were born via cesarean.
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? My first child was 8 pounds 14 ounces and was in a breech position. His little butt was trying to push its way into the world first. My second child had a scheduled cesarean but the plan was if he arrived beforehand, we would experience a vaginal birth. His scheduled date arrived and he was born cesarean. He, too, was a good size, at 8 pounds 4 ounces. My third child was a scheduled cesarean but my water broke two or three days before that date. He was delivered cesarean also. His birth weight was 7 pounds 13 ounces.
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 young, only 20 years old, when my first child was born. I was scared. I remember feeling the discomfort of pressure on my abdomen during his birth. I also remember the discomfort of the healing process. I feel I wasn’t adequately prepared for that, education-wise. But oh, the joy, the joy of that baby. The other two births were without issue, except I did experience the spinal headache after the birth of my third child.
Have you ever experienced any shaming or questioning that made you feel uncomfortable after your cesarean? I do not recall having any feelings of being “less than” from external sources because I had my children via cesarean. I think I was a bit hard on myself about it, though. I felt a bit cheated, perhaps, that I did not experience the “normal” process of bringing my babies into the world. Of course, I realized that those feelings were not true.
Were you able to do skin-to-skin with your baby immediately after the birth, even before leaving the operating room? My children are adults and I know that processes have changed through the years. I do not recall skin-to-skin, unfortunately.
Was there a clear, see through drape between you and Baby at the time of the operation? No, I believe there was not.
If you chose to breastfeed your baby, were you able to try nursing your baby within the first hour after birth? I did breastfeed all three of my babies. I do not remember if it was within the first hour.
What was your recovery like: Better or worse than expected? More emotionally or physically draining than you were prepared for? As mentioned above, my first recovery was more uncomfortable and for a longer period of time than I assumed it would be. I remember my brother visiting me in the hospital and we laughed about something. He felt so bad because the laughter hurt my belly so much I ended up crying in pain. Funny now, not then :) I also remember after all three births, wanting to pop right back to normalcy in every area of my life, as my sisters did and as my mother, who had six very easy births, had done. The length of recovery physically and emotionally was more of a process than I was expecting.
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? No, I did not feel very prepared. I had full trust in my health care providers, which is a good thing, but I would like to have had more education for myself. Again, these births were in the late 1970s to mid 1980s. Processes have evolved.
What are three things you’d like the world to know about cesarean birth?
Cesarean births should not be viewed negatively. The reasons must be for the health and wellness of baby and mother, which is always, always the goal.
Try to feel ready. Understand the process. Have all of the information needed to go confidently into the procedure with sweet anticipation, not fear or anxiety.
Regardless of process, all women work hard to carry and deliver a baby.
Anything else you'd like to share about your experience(s) or that you want the public to know about cesarean birth. Yes : ) Cesarean birth is simply a vehicle to bring a life into the world. The process is unique for every woman but the end result is the same - a gift.