Tips for a Cesarean Birth

April is Cesarean Awareness Month and the goal is to raise awareness and educate people about cesareans. I was fortunate that I had a positive experience with my own planned cesarean of a 9.9 pound breech baby but so many women struggle with the mental and psychical trauma of having major surgery, especially if it was an emergency cesarean.

Even more so, women are typically told that if they had a cesarean, they will have to have one next time. According to ICAN – recent studies have shown that there was an over 80% success rate for VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean)! My OBGYN said that it was entirely possible for me to have a VBAC next time if that is what I wanted but confessed that most of the smaller hospitals tend to pressure women into having a cesarean because of the perceived risk.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; the United States current rate is over 30%!

If you have to have a cesarean birth, here are a few tips for you.

  1. Own your birth. I had planned a vaginal birth from the very beginning. Having a c-section never crossed my mind. So many cesareans are unplanned which I feel leads to the risk of physical and mental trauma for the mother. Even if you are 100% confident that you will have a vaginal birth, take some time to research cesareans – read a couple of birth stories, look up some of the recovery information. That way if it turns out that you do need one, you may feel a bit more prepared for it instead of having everything thrown on you at once.
  2. Explore Gentle Cesarean Options. Many hospitals are moving towards gentle cesareans – an option that is more mom and family centered. Some of the things you can do is:
    1. Request skin-to-skin while in the operating room and have the attendant help you initiate breastfeeding right there. This is key. On top of this, see if your baby can stay with you while your incision is being closed up. I was separated from Caleb for about 10 minutes right at the end (when they had to move me) but my partner went with Caleb to the recovery room where my mom was waiting to see him. It can be traumatizing for so many women to have their baby just taken from them as soon as he is out of their body and I was blessed to have such a nurturing staff.
    2. See if pictures can be taken in the operating room – they may not allow an additional photographer in there but we were allowed to use a cell phone and one of the attendants even took our first family photo while they closed me up!
    3. Ask if the hospital would still practice delayed cord clamping and see if your partner could cut the cord again. Typically the doctor will cut it during a cesarean but did offer the opportunity for my partner to trim it afterward (I think he declined).
    4. Check to see if your doula can be in the operating room with you. Even though your partner will typically be in the operating room with you, chances are that he will be so overwhelmed that it will help to have someone to attend to your needs and keep you calm.
  3. Get moving! The next day after my cesarean, I started getting out of bed. Sure, I would only take about 5 steps but I was doing something (even better, I only needed help once getting to the bathroom)! As soon as you can, start moving your toes and your legs. Moving will help prevent blood clots, get your bowels moving, and help eliminate the gas buildup. Just don’t overdo it!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Moms deserve to taken care of during the postpartum period by family, friends, or by postpartum doulas. Don’t worry about sounding weak. If you are in need of something, make it known!

Over all – give yourself time to heal and enjoy your new baby.

Did you have to have a cesarean?

Lil Bean’s Birth Story

Meet Lil Bean – aka Caleb!

DOB: 12/5/17 | Weight: 9.9 lbs. | Length: 21″

I’m currently sitting in my living room on a chilly December morning, snug as a bug in my “throne” (i.e. numerous pillows and blankets tucked around me) with a hearty crockpot going in the kitchen. Most important of all, I get to look at my Lil Bean, also snug as a bug in his little swing, completely at peace with the world.

Lil Bean is officially one week old as of today and let me tell you, it has been a whirlwind of a week. On my Week 38 Update, I wrote that we had a set date for Lil Bean’s C-section – December 6th. I made December 1st my last working day so that I could take Monday and Tuesday to get some errands done, relax, and prepare for my c-section.

Pssh. Let me tell you what really happened.

Sunday, Robb and I went to visit a fellow couple and their two week old baby. After that, we went to a local restaurant – Montero’s – for brunch. He had never been there and I just wanted to go out to eat. We ended up leaving the restaurant way beyond stuffed.

That’s when I started feeling funny. Crampy, some back pain, nauseous, just a little out of sorts really. Still, I went on about my day though I couldn’t quite get comfortable at night. Monday came and I woke up feeling a little bit more out of sorts but I had a full day planned – I wanted to get a haircut, check out a potential daycare, etc. By lunchtime, I was starting to hurt so I went home to rest, thinking I would finish up my errands on Tuesday (grocery store and picking up contacts).

I woke up on Tuesday and Robb drove me to the hospital to have some blood work done. I hadn’t been able to sleep at all Monday night due to cramping so even though Robb suggested we go and talk to labor and delivery, I shrugged it off. Less than 24 hours from then, I would have my C-section anyway.

He drove me home and went off to work for a few hours. The pain grew worse and grew constant (I tried to time the waves but they never seemed to end). There was no relief or break – not through a shower or heating pad so when Robb called to check on me about two hours later, he suggested that I call my doctor and then actually called for me because I didn’t think I could get enough words out. Belle tried to help by bringing me toys and snuggling with me.

After a call from my doctor, Robb came and picked me up to carry me to the hospital. We got to the hospital about 11 a.m., they hooked me up to some machines to register my contractions and SURPRISE – active labor. Not long after, my mom showed up and we were told that they would start making preparations to have my C-section that day, basically within the next hour or so.

It was non-stop action at that point. People coming in and out of the room, getting me set-up with my IVs, measuring my vitals, etc. A little after lunchtime, I was given a pain medication that took the edge off – and it certainly helped. After having no sleep for the past few days, all I wanted to do then was close my eyes.

Being rolled into the operating room was a surreal experience. I had never had any sort of surgery so I had no idea. In my haze, it almost seemed a bit alien – big bright lights, people milling about everywhere in scrubs. I was given a spinal block which was not pleasant by any means. Then there was nothing but numbness. I had the shakes pretty bad, even though they covered my arms in heated blankets, I couldn’t stop shaking.

They put up the curtain and that’s when Robb walked in. He was quite brave and peeked over the curtain quite a few times. His eyes got really big at one point but he never wavered. Talking to him later, it was quite a trippy experience for the both of us – he saw more of me than most people ever see of someone and all I felt during the whole process was a bit of tugging. He saw my water being broken with a huge gush and not long after, watched our Lil Bean being snatched out butt first.

As soon as he came out, he started to cry. After 9 months, I couldn’t believe that he was finally here. The doctor held him up so that I could see him and after a few moments, his umbilical cord was cut. Robb followed them over to where they got his measurements and cleaned him up some (no bath) and then he was brought over to me and placed him on my chest. I think Caleb and I were both looking at each other with a sense of wonderment at that time.

Robb left with Caleb as they finished closing me up and I was wheeled back to my room. Start to finish, I’d say the whole process took less than 1 hour. I was feeling no pain at that time and watched my mom and Robb change Caleb’s first diaper.

After two hours, I was taken to the recovery room where I would spend the next two days with Robb and Caleb. Tuesday wasn’t bad. Wednesday, I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I tried to move around in the bed as much as I could and tried to make it a point to get out of bed every few hours. It sucked but even though pain medication was available, I didn’t take much advantage of it – the pain wasn’t that bad to me. Getting woken up throughout the night by the nurses was not fun nor was the fact that I really couldn’t tend to Caleb, but the time passed. We were discharged on Thursday and after a few quick stops, headed home.

Our first evening home – I’m not intentionally shooting Robb the bird.

Robb was a huge help in the hospital and even now that we’re home, he has been amazing. He has been the primary diaper-changer (just because it has been hard for me to move about) and has taken care of me and Caleb wonderfully. The first few days after getting home, I was still sore but today – there is a soreness but I feel much more invigorated (I’ve done dishes, cleaned the kitchen some, changed diapers). Everyone keeps commenting on how surprised they are that I am recovering as quickly as I am.

Since coming home from the hospital, Caleb has had two doctor’s appointments (one was a follow-up for his weight), been introduced to Belle (we’ve been letting her in for a few hours at a time – she really doesn’t seem interested in him other than in sniffing his butt), and gone on a Sunday drive with us (which was actually on Monday, but it’s what we call the days when we ride around to look at houses). Nights have been a bit rough but as Robb is a morning person and I’m more of a night owl, it’s working out somewhat.

To be honest, I’m glad that everything worked out how it did – that even though my C-section was scheduled, it ended up having to be a day early. It all happened so quickly that none of us really had time to think about it. Plus, I love the fact that Caleb had his little heart set on being born December 5th – ever since the early stages of my pregnancy, I just KNEW that December 5th would be his date of birth.

Week 38 Update

We have a date! It looks like Lil Bean’s birthday will be December 6th. I was sooo close to having predicted his date of birth back when I was three months pregnant. I said that it would be December 5th. But December 6th is a great day.

It’s weird knowing when his birthday will be. It’s weird knowing that I only have a few days left of feeling him squirm around in my belly. It really makes it real now that I have a date.

This Friday will be my last day at work before I start my maternity leave (which is perfect because we are having a potluck that day). It’ll let me have Monday off to relax/run some errands and Tuesday to go and get my blood drawn. They want to draw 2 pints to have on hand just in case I end up needing to have a blood transfusion during my procedure. I also have to take a shower the night before and the morning of using a special disinfectant soap. At least I’ll start the day with clean hair!

38 Weeks

When I went in for my doctor’s appointment, I really didn’t have many questions. Our doctor went over the basic procedure last week which was good enough for me. I have done research on the after part of having a c-section as well as looked up pictures of the process itself but for the most part (which I jokingly compared to the Chestburster scene in Alien), I know that if I research too much then I will only freak myself out.

We still don’t know what time yet and probably won’t know for a few more days. Scheduling a c-section on a Wednesday is a bit of an anomaly for our hospital but Monday/Tuesday (the usual days) were already fully booked with inductions, c-sections, and other birth/delivery procedures. It’ll either be at 7:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. Personally, I’m voting for 12:30 since we have to be there 2 hours beforehand.

It was nice weather this past weekend, so we took the dogs down to the pond. We all had such a good time and it was nice to get outside in the fresh air.

Week 37 Update [Breech Baby Confirmed]

Week 37 was a bit of a rough week, more so emotionally than anything. Robb and I went on Tuesday to my ultrasound appointment and they confirmed that Lil Bean was breeched (Lil Bean and I both checked out healthy otherwise). On the bright side, we did get to see Lil Bean waving at us and learned that he has a fat lower lip (he must get his lips from me). The technician also stated that it appears that Lil Bean is currently in the 90th percentile and weighs a little over 8 pounds (she said that she could be off a pound either way).

37 Weeks!

When we met with the doctor, he gave us a few options – we could try external cephalic version (ECV), which is an attempt to physically turn Lil Bean so that he’s head down. There’s about a 50/50 chance that it would work and no guarantee Lil Bean would stay that way until it’s time for labor. He also stated that it could be risky for Lil Bean depending on why he was breeched. We could just see if Lil Bean would turn on his own or we could go ahead and schedule a cesarean. He told us to take the weekend to discuss our options and do some research but our minds are made up.

I’ll be calling Monday to schedule my C-section. It’s a bit ironic because at the very beginning of my pregnancy, I wanted a home birth (which Robb nor my mom felt comfortable with as this was my first pregnancy).

It’s not what either of us wanted and it is a bit upsetting. We are both disappointed that we won’t have the “full” birth experience – the anticipation of if “it’s time”, the rushed journey to the hospital, Robb hearing me moo like a cow, etc. My pregnancy has been so easy this entire time and I’ve been so confident that I would give birth naturally that a C-section never crossed my mind. Ever.

But that’s okay. I know that if it was meant for Lil Bean to turn then he would have. It feels like he has tried but he just can’t make it happen. It could be many things – umbilical cord wrapped around something, he could be stuck because of my size versus his size, or it could be something with me (I did see where the technician notated that my placenta was in a different position than what is common). My health and Lil Bean’s health is what matters most. If I lived in a larger city with more options, I would maybe attempt to give birth vaginally but where I am, I need to make the best choice for us. Besides, I don’t want to end up in a situation where I have to have an emergency C-section after being in labor for hours upon hours.

Our doctor did a good job of explaining things, especially the timeline. Basically once everything gets started, it’ll only be about 45 minutes until I get to touch Lil Bean.

On a lighter note – here’s some other pictures from last week!

Belle has become addicted to cuddling with me during my pregnancy – not that I mind, I love her warmth!

The obligatory Thanksgiving plate photo – yum.

Cranberries that I made – I LOVE cranberries and made sure to buy an extra bag to throw in the freezer.

Week 36 Update [Possible Breech Baby?]

Oh…my…goodness. 36 weeks! It really feels like Lil Bean has run out of room. My stomach has gotten right lumpy looking in spots and when he moves, you can certainly tell!

I had another doctor’s appointment yesterday. Everything checked out well. Lil Bean Bean and I are both perfectly healthy except for one thing – Lil Bean might be breeched.  A breech baby is one that hasn’t quite moved into the optimal position (head down) yet. Breech births occur in approximately 1 out of 25 full-term births (according to the American Pregnancy Association). I have an ultrasound scheduled for next Tuesday so that we can take a look at how Lil Bean is positioned to see for sure.

Even though hearing that Lil Bean might be breeched is not the best news to get, it’s not the end of the world. It just means some adjustments might need to be made to how we thought the next month might unfold. If he is breeched, Lil Bean can still turn (in fact, if he is breeched, I think he just turned last weekend to be so as he made a whole lot of commotion) and there are things we can do to try and get him to turn. All-in-all, we will do what is best for Lil Bean’s health (and my health) so if it has to be a C-Section in the end, then so be it.

Robb and I actually a little excited to get another ultrasound. It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Lil Bean and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s changed. Plus, it’ll be nice to make sure that we don’t spot any other potential problems.

Robb and I had a date day this past Saturday – probably one of our last because of his on-call rotation. We went up to Virginia to return a few baby items, went out to lunch to Olive Garden, then went and saw Thor: Ragnarok (not my favorite Thor movie by far – I wish that the movie had been a little less science fiction-y and took in more of the Norse legend).  It was great getting to spend time out and about with him. We also picked up some organizational items for the house and some items to complete Lil Bean’s nursery.

Not quite the best photo but I do love showing off the belly! | 36 Weeks

One of the items we picked up for the nursery was a cheap cubby hole and some canvas bins. Initially we were going to put it in the closet (replacing a plastic drawer and file cabinet that already existed in there) but after Robb dragged everything out, I thought that maybe it would look better under the shelves that I had him rearrange earlier in the week. I’m so happy now with how the nursery has turned out. This was about the third time that I’ve had Robb rearrange everything but it now looks like a cohesive unit (and I think he like how it looks now too). We also added in a rocking chair to give us something to sit. I’ll do a proper post on the nursery soon.

I spent Sunday cleaning (possibly nesting). I had received some new cleaning products in and was excited to try them out. C’mon. How many people can really say that they are excited about cleaning? But for some reason, I couldn’t wait to clean.

Keep your fingers crossed that Lil Bean’s in the right position come next Tuesday!