Five years ago I planned to have the 'vaginal birth' preferably in water, but was open to other options. I had done three lovely terms of Daisy Birthing classes, so I felt fully prepared and was raring to go. However my little lady had planned another route of exit, the 'sunroof delivery' . Like most I knew only a little about sections, had heard more of the bad than the good. However I never really thought much about it being a major operation and that the aftercare would be so vital to recovery and my next birth. For those who say it is the easy way out, it is anything but, yet I hope to share with you a few things that I think are important.
Don't worry I am not going preach or get in to which is best, that is a whole debate I do not wish to entertain. I have done both and there are pros and cons to each of them. However I do believe strongly that mummies should support each other in their choices as they are doing what is right for them and their baby.
Breastfeeding can be tough after a section. With my first I was happy to see my little bundle latch on to me, but when I was transferred to the ward, the midwife advised me she was not getting enough to keep her blood sugar levels high. She had to be pin pricked in the heel every hour, hard to witness and hear. After a few hours, I knew I had to make a choice, she had been through so much already. I was knackered, numb from waist down, unable to hand express due to cannula in my hand, and had no control to pick my baby up or put her back down, so was relying on midwives to do it for me until I could get up to move. At that time I was unclear on my options or what was the right thing to do, they could not advise me fully so I chose formula. Don't get me wrong, this is a decision I do not regret in any sense, I just wish I had known the following facts:
It is really common for section babies to have low blood sugar levels when born.
Babies can be combination fed initially, or you can express, then try latching again.
She who shouts loudest gets seen quickest!! Sad but true if you don't ask for help, they don't know you need it. Don't be afraid to shout and keep buzzing that buzzer when you need help.
The second time round I was much more prepared, here I was in same situation. This time my baby had a low temp so was sleeping all wrapped up on a heated mattress in the cot beside me and I was not allowed to pick her up until the temperature had regulated. So for feeding I was handed a cup and syringe and told to hand express???? I had no idea how to do this, although you are given really informative booklets now, I needed to be shown physically, so I practically demanded the support. They were great, I massaged vigorously whilst a student midwife syringed. I only produced 2mls, that was it but really amazing, 2mls. Babies only need little amounts in the early stages, colostrum, and that is all your body is producing, so don't beat yourself up, just know there are little amounts as that is all they require at that time.
Getting out of bed for the first time
You may have had major abdominal surgery, but it is very important that you get out of bed as soon as possible, it is actually a good thing. Don't be afraid!. You have an electrical bed and this helps so much in the initial stages of recovery. The Physio will come round and give you a booklet with guides on getting in and out of bed, what do if you cough and sneeze and light exercises. Read it, it is very good information, however if you can try and make them go through it with you in a little more detail. What about your bed at home, how high/low is it in relation to you Moses basket, or changing table. The hospital ones are positioned much higher, so you do not need to strain bending over to get baby and vice versa. Speak to them and see if they have any suggestions.
When I returned home after my first I burst into tears trying to put her in the Moses basket, which was so low down and I could not do it. I had the post first few days baby blues and I felt really overwhelmed and slightly lost as I had found my comfort zone in the hospital on how to get in and out of bed, picking baby up changing baby and putting back down with ease. Thankfully my sister in law gave me a good few pointers, one of which was simply to sit on the bed to put her in and pick her up, it made the world of difference the first few days at home.
You will usually be fitted with a catheter (a small tube that fits into your bladder) for up to 24 hours. I used to call it my designer handbag, which it is anything but. I honestly thought this was the most unpleasant part of the process, just take care with it. Drink lots of water, as you will need to give them a full paper hat when you get it out, so keep things moving. Yes all dignity has pretty much gone by this point.
Take them! They help!
We bleed after birth, even though we never gave birth naturally. Make sure you read the guidelines and know what is normal and what is not.
No they are not particularly sexy, slightly uncomfortable if swollen or hot and yes they are really unattractive but they are vital, so wear them, they will help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). You will have to rely on people putting them on and off for a while until you get a little bit more flexible.
Do be aware that if you have had swelling in pregnancy this can sometimes remain for a very short period make sure you ask for the bigger size and at least two pairs.
You may need daily injections to prevent blood clots (thrombosis). Depending on how long you are kept in, usually 2-4 days, you will be given these injections home with you to do yourself. Now thankfully I do not have a great fear of needles but the thought was still daunting. It is for a very short period but if you are not confident or have severe phobia, who is on hand to help? see if your partner or caregiver is at home to do it for you. First time, the midwife did this on her daily visits in my home post birth but second time I had to do it myself. Initially there were a several moments of 1,2,3 go and then chicken out. It is a very small prick, not very sore and nothing compared to what you have just been through in pregnancy and birth.
Journey home and further travelling
Something to cushion the scar against seatbelt, I did not need that initially as lap belt lay high on my still round belly and scar underneath but it is invaluable for some.
Use the hand bar, especially for going round corners.
Maybe a cushion to sit on, but have feet firmly on car floor.
Lifting and being looked after
Why shouldn't you hardly lift a finger unless it is for your newborn to be fed, changed, washed or cuddled. In many cultures, new mums are cared for by family: cooking, cleaning, washing, dressing, massage for two weeks postpartum. Sounds like bliss and in an ideal world it would be that way for all. However simple things can be taken care of by others, you have just had major surgery and the advice of not lifting, car seats, prams, stretching up too high etc is good advice. Your body needs the time to recover, you don't want to risk bursting the scar, risking infection or causing further scar tissue deep within. Although you may start to feel great pretty quickly, (despite the haze of sleep deprivation) everybody has different healing rates. It is vital to keep activities to a minimum and get anyone you can to help in anyway they can. Let people come and make a fuss of you, but make sure they cook, clean, entertain baby, maybe allowing you to sleep or shower. That should be the same for any new mum whatever birth they have had.
Don't lift car seats, prams or anything heavier than your baby if possible.
I am a very independent person and some would say 100 miles an hour so that was tough the first time, and I would say I did too much to quick. My scar burst a couple of times (NB do not wear your mat jeans if join of fabric and denim is at scar level!) that was hard but made me realise I had to slow down. I had underlying scar tissue from this section, that affected how my next birth panned out. That is not the same for all, I have had the pleasure of being part of loads of VBAC's in my time teaching. It taught me though that this time I took more time, I had a newborn and 4 year old at home. Although baby and I managed my 4 year old daughter's birthday party (pre planned) 3 days after my birth of course. I am lucky enough to have a great support network of friends and family around me. If you are not so fortunate, can they provide support in any way, a question worth asking.
Care for your scar
Keep your scar area clean and dry,,there will be an overhang of skin, time is a healer and you can regain control of that pouch.
Don't be afraid, once uncovered to touch your scar, if no open wound though. Massage can actually be very beneficial to ease scar tissue. A qualified masseuse can guide you or could the Physio?.
Time is a healer and 4 years and 9 months on from the births of my daughters, I would say it has taken me longer second time round. However with the help of a fantastic Pilates teacher and with wonderful birthing and baby classes to teach, I am getting stronger from within.
We have two beautiful girls in our world now, did their births go to plan, no, but I would not change that for the world.
For Lucie's classes throughout Glasgow contact Luciefirstname.lastname@example.org 07745 092007 or book online through http://thedaisyfoundation.com/antenatal-classes-in-glasgow-lucie-shaw/http://thedaisyfoundation.com/antenatal-classes-in-glasgow-lucie-shaw/