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?

Breastfeeding can be hard for so many women, myself included. I still have days where it hurts or I just feel drained, literally. Typically those days come after a long night and in my hurry to get Caleb back to sleep, I don’t take the time to make sure that he is properly latched. On those days, I find myself switching out one of Caleb’s normal feedings with a bottle of formula just to give myself a break.

Those days are thankfully fewer and fewer now that I realize how to correct that issue. Overall, I believe that breast is best but when it comes down to it, I’d rather make sure that Caleb isn’t going hungry.

My biggest piece of advice to you as a breastfeeding mom (or mom-to-be) is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. If you find yourself having a difficult time breastfeeding and are in pain constantly when you nurse, don’t be afraid to speak with a lactation consultant in your area.

These are some of the products that have saved my sanity when it comes to breastfeeding.

Kindle E-Reader with Built-in Light – When you’re breastfeeding, there really isn’t much else you can do at that moment (unless you have a sling or a carrier and then it’s game on). My Kindle has been a lifesaver, especially at night when Caleb needs to be fed and I don’t want to cut any lights on. It’s easy to control a Kindle with one hand and it allows my brain to relax/focus on something else for a bit. I’m currently working my way through Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family which was recommended to me by Robb’s cousin.

Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner – The Boppy pillow was one of the first items that I added to my baby registry. I didn’t use it as much as I thought that I would the first week or so but I’ve been using it more and more lately. It helps me put Caleb in the perfect position to feed. It also gives my arms a break from holding him and Caleb likes to rest in his Boppy pillow.

Milk Drunk – Chocolate Protein Powder for Breastfeeding – This is a delicious protein powder for smoothies filled with lactation-boosting ingredients such as fenugreek, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and oat flour. Bonus – it’s vegan! I also recommend Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals as well for lactation support. I’ve used both to help boost my milk supply. I still haven’t managed to have enough extra milk to start storing some for when I go back to work but that’ll be my goal for February.

Nursing Bra – I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see the need for a nursing bra until I actually purchased one for myself. When I’m at home, I don’t bother with a bra unless I feel that I am needing the compression support. But I’ve found that with a nursing bra, I can wear it out in public for just in case or wear it around the house and it leaves me feeling a little less exposed to the elements. With the temperature in the house around 65°, that’s a pretty nice feeling to have.

Medela Tender Care Lanolin Tube – There are dozens of nipple creams out there for your tender bits and I recommend that you have something to keep your nipples from being chapped. I’ve been using Medela’s because I have received so many samples of it (nearly time I went to the doctor, I received more samples). Medela lanolin (lanolin is wool wax) is a thick, almost salve-like consistency that provides  soothing relief. I’ve also developed my own nipple butter that I will transition to once I’m all out of Medela lanolin (coming soon to my Etsy shop).

Did you have any issues breastfeeding?

During the first few weeks after giving birth, you probably have a million questions and worries running through your head. I know that we did. So what I’ve done is compiled a list of websites that answered some of the questions that I had.

Note: The internet is a wonderful thing but it shouldn’t take the place of you taking your child to see his/her pediatrician if you feel that something isn’t right or if you are looking for advice on how to handle something. In my mind, having someone physically be able to look at my child beats me just searching something up on WebMD.

How To: Moby Wrap with a Newborn ♡ Newborn Hug Hold – NaturallyThriftyMom

8 Essential Tips for Successful Babywearing After A Cesarean

10+ Things No One Tells You About C-sections

Cesarean Birth After Care

Kangaroo Care: 9 Benefits of Skin-to-Skin Contact

Cluster Feeding Tips – 7 Tips To Cope With Cluster Feeding

Cleaning a Breast Pump

The Cause and Treatment of Infant Hiccups in Babies and Newborns

Diaper Rash | Baby Center

7 Tips for Diaper Rash Treatment

What are some websites that helped you out when you first had your little one?

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.

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.