Why I had a c-section
On March 2nd 2022 I gave birth to my first child Leon in a private hospital in Sydney. I was 37 weeks pregnant on the dot which is the week you’re considered a full term pregnancy so technically safe to give birth.
I had gestational hypertension the entire pregnancy which meant my blood pressure would fluctuate between the 145-155 over 90-110 which was being managed by different blood pressure medications through my obstetrician, and a blood pressure specialist. I had been experiencing extremely bad headaches, vertigo, tiredness, nausea, joint swelling, and baby brain.
However 1.5 weeks prior to giving birth I had been hospitalised for a week when my blood pressure reached 160 over 115. Fast forward back to being 37 weeks pregnant, I went to my normal weekly obstetrician appointment, and within 5 minutes of checking my vitals, I was being admitted to the hospital, and was told I would need to give birth by the end of that week.
I was as ready as I could be.
We had prepped for months on different birthing positions, stretches, mantras, relaxation techniques, and all the other information I needed to be a fully informed mother during a natural vaginal child birth. I was focused on going in with the intention of no pain medication until it was deemed absolutely necessary. My reasoning behind no pain medication is that I believe different levels of pain must be felt in our lives so we can use it as a comparison for when things are actually great or not so great.
After more tests, and consultation with both my obstetrician, and my blood pressure specialist I was told I had 2 options:
Try a vaginal birth but there were high risk of complications due to my sky rocketed blood pressure. It meant that the baby was highly likely to go into distress, and that I was highly likely to have complications like a stroke, haemorrhaging or worse. Also, if those things were to happen, I would need to have an emergency caesarian section anyway.
Schedule in an immediate caesarian section surgery, and go under spinal anaesthesia which would actually help decrease my blood pressure.
My husband, and I chose option 2, and 4 hours later I was prepped, and went into surgery.
What was my c-section like
Honestly, pretty surreal. I had never had a surgery before so to me it was all very new.
My husband was there as my support person with our camera, and phone to capture the moments, and was talking to me (my request) to keep my mind preoccupied. Before the wardsman had picked us up from my hospital suite I had told my husband I felt like I was going to cry because I was scared, and that nothing we prepared for was happening anymore. So I asked my husband Albon to talk to me because I didn’t want to be laying on the surgery table completely numb from the chest down, and crying.
There was a total of 8 medical staff including my obstetrician in my surgery. The only fairly painful part of the surgery was getting the spinal anaesthetic which was a fairly quick, sharp pain followed by warmth throughout my whole body starting from my feet, and then almost complete numbness from the chest down.
I opted to have a covering between myself, and the surgery so I wouldn’t see it as I while I don’t pass out from blood or gory things, I didn’t want my first to be during my sons birth.
It was surreal because while I couldn’t feel any pain after the anaesthetic nor see anything, I could somewhat feel them inside my mid section, and could clearly hear everything they were saying as well as the tinkering of the medical equipment. I had never experienced anything similar to it, and still now days later I have no way to properly explain how it felt.
The worst feeling for me was it felt like my chest was being lightly crushed which was due to the anaesthetic but they gave me some medicine to resolve that quickly.
The best feeling by far was hearing my son have his first cry. Even before he was fully out of me, he let out the biggest cry, and with that, so did I.
My husband then moved to the side so he could cut the umbilical cord, and take some photos before they brought the baby back to me so I could have my cuddle.
Now, things I didn’t know about a c-section before having one…
You can’t have immediate skin to skin
This one made me really sad. My surgery was at 7pm, and during I was able to see my baby for photos, and to say hello to him. But because of the spinal anaesthesia, and other possible reasons, you can’t actually hold the baby in the operating room.
I had really bad shakes midway, and after the surgery for 2 hours so I wasn’t able to leave the post op recovery room until 9:45pm. However, during that time my husband was able to be with the baby.
The first poop is scary, and likely will take days to happen
I knew that the first poop after a vaginal birth was scary, and painful but it never occurred to me that a c-section would be similar. As they cut through so much, and your midsection is healing, the medical staff have to keep giving you laxatives, and stool softeners so that you don’t push at all when doing your poop.
But your poop will likely not happen the first day. In fact, it’s more likely to happen 3 to 5 days after you’ve given birth.
Getting in any upright position hurts
Again, I had prepared for a vaginal birth. But changing position from laying to sitting, or sitting to standing HURTS. Even 5 days postpartum, I still cannot stand upright because it just hurts so much. The worst is probably moving from laying down to sitting up as you use so many muscles in your core to do that positional change. The first few times I did I burst into tears.
To get up I’ve been advised to move as slowly as possible, bend my knees dig my heels in, and use one arm to try relocate more pressure there instead of my lower half.
Also, I’m on a lot of pain medication which has really helped.
You’ll still bleed a lot
I had anticipated a lot of vaginal blood loss after a vaginal birth but hadn’t really thought of it for a c-section. When the placenta is removed it leaves a massive wound (well, a placenta sized wound) inside you which will bleed for weeks. I’ve been prepared by the nurses that I should expect bleeding for 6 weeks postpartum, and anything more than that to let my obstetrician know.
The bleeding the day after the caesarian was the worst because the day of I was laying down for all of post surgery recovery. However, the next day I had to start moving around now that the spinal anaesthetic had worn off. That pee was terrifying as it was more than I had for my periods.
Blood clots, similar to those in your period, are expected but the nurses had me tell them whenever I had any large or weird ones so they could double check it wasn’t actually placenta.