Up until week 36 of my pregnancy, everything had been smooth sailing. I was fit and healthy, had a ton of energy, no complications, and (supposedly) my baby was head down and ready for departure. I had been receiving my pre-natal care at the Cambridge Birthing Center, read a gazillion books and blogs on “natural birth”, and I felt prepared that my body and mind were capable and ready for the challenge.
At my 36 week appointment I saw a different mid-wife because mine was out that day, and it was she who pointed out that what my mid-wife and I had thought all along was his bum was actually his head, meaning that Austin was in fact breech. I was devastated and all of the fears of not having a “natural birth” came flooding through my head. (I put natural birth in quotations because I highly dislike that term now! No matter how you bring your child into the world, whether via c-section or vaginally, is a natural and beautiful thing!) Knowing that the clock was ticking, in the days following that appointment I decided to do everything in my power to flip that baby around- from moxibustion (an old Chinese medicine technique), to handstands against a wall, hanging upside down from an ironing board that was propped against our couch, putting ice on my stomach, and finally my last resort- an ECV (External Cephalic Version). An ECV is a risky technique done in the hospital where one or two doctors use their hands on your belly (and A LOT of force) and try and flip your baby into the head down position. Nurses and anesthesiologists are in the room at the time incase things take a turn for the worse and the mom needs to have an emergency c-section performed. I had a pretty terrifying ECV experience because during the procedure Austin’s heart rate dropped from 160 bpm to zero (luckily it came back within seconds of the doctors letting go), but it was crystal clear that this baby wasn’t moving out of the breech position.
After the unsuccessful ECV, I knew that a scheduled c-section was inevitable. I was devastated and cried for three days straight. My hopes of having a vaginal birth were suddenly trumped by needing an extremely invasive surgery and lots of medication in my future- the complete opposite of my birth plan (ps- I now know that birth plans should be taken VERY lightly!). My medical care was transferred from the birthing center to Cambridge Hospital and a c-section was scheduled on the first day of my 38th week (he was delivered early because he was measuring very small, but he ended up being a perfectly healthy little nugget). I spent the few days before my surgery Googling c-sections, reading all about the terrifying side-effects and horror story after horror story of people’s traumatic experiences on online forums. All I wanted was one good article that would ease my fears, tell me that a c-section wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and that recovery wouldn’t be as hard as I thought. Well, now that I have experienced it all and have a beautiful, healthy baby, I decided to write this article to give any mamas out there who have to have a c-section hope that it will be ok! For all of the bad things you read about c-sections, there’s a lot of positives too, so focus on the good, mamas, and know that once your baby is out into the world, no matter how it got there was completely worth it
1. You and your little one will be more safe
My little guy was not only breech, but he was super small (4.6lbs), so even if he was head down, my doctor was worried that the stress of labor could negatively impact him. As it turned out, once he was born, they discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped two times around his neck! No wonder all of the things I tried to do wouldn’t get him to move. If your doctor has scheduled you for a c-section, there is a reason, and that is because it is safer for mom and baby than delivering vaginally. I felt relieved knowing that the mid-wife caught the fact that he was breech before I had a chance to go into natural labor. I most likely would have had to have underwent an emergency c-section anyways.
2. You can plan ahead
Once I had finally accepted that a c-section was inevitable, I was able to get my life in order before baby was born. I cleaned our house to perfection so that I wouldn’t have to lift a finger when we got home from the hospital, I put the finishing touches on the baby’s room, went grocery shopping, and even got my hair and nails done the day before surgery. My husband and I had a nice meal and date night the night before knowing that it was the last official night as just “the two of us.” In a nutshell, I was more prepared than if I had gone into spontaneous labor, and for a planner like myself, that put me at ease.
3. You don’t feel a thing
As much as I hate medication, I had to give in to the fact that I was going to need anesthesia and pain meds. About 20 minutes into the c-section I asked the doctor, “Are you guys going to start soon?” HIs answer, “Oh honey, the baby is almost out! That’s the beauty of anesthesia!” So as someone who was terrified of surgery, I can assure you that you will not feel ANY pain at all during the procedure (just some pressure, but that did not hurt at all).
4. You don’t have to deal with hours (or even days) of painful labor
I know that “natural labor” is ideal for most people, but I have many friends who went through hours, and even days, of labor, and to be honest, that sounds more scary to me now than having a c-section. I was prepped for surgery, delivered Austin, and was in the recovery room all in one hour.
5. Recovery is not that bad
The biggest piece of advice that the nurses at the hospital gave me was to get out of bed and move as soon as I could once my IVs and catheter were out (about 12 hours post-surgery.). Getting out of bed the first couple of times was definitely uncomfortable and challenging, but every hour and every day I got better and better. Within one week of surgery, I was taking daily walks with Austin and was no longer taking pain medication. Of course, everyone is different, and if you need more time to move and longer time to take medications than don’t be discouraged! But just know, each day gets better and better.
6. Your scar is hidden
Nowadays, c-sections are so common and doctors perform them so often, that they have their technique down pat. In the majority of circumstances, the incision is done below the underwear line, so the only person who will ever see it is yourself and anyone who sees you naked! So yes, you can rock a bikini and/or low rise jeans again if that’s your jam and no one will ever know you had a c-section! (And by the way, your scar may look a little dark in the early stages, but just know that it will lighten up a great deal over time.)
7. You don’t have to push a human out though a little hole
I mean, come on, natural birth is great and all, but at the end of the day does anyone REALLY look forward to doing that?