Updated: Apr 30, 2021
My caesarean experience
As we come to the end of April and #CaesareanAwarenessMonth I have been thinking a lot about my own caesarean birth experience.
As someone who is a bit squeamish about operations, including my caesarean, I chose to not think too much about how the experience made me feel but it has been nice to slowly start remembering more and more bits and reflecting on what happened.
I’ve written for Maternal Circle this month about my nutrition recovery tips after a caesarean and I’m always in my Nutrition Practitioner mode of how can I functionally help a mother after birth but thinking about my own birth experience is very different.
Here’s my story
Fairly late on into my pregnancy my baby was still legs down. The whole pregnancy I had felt her kicking me down in my groin not knowing that it was her feet. This was my first baby after all and she was wriggling around constantly. It was hard to decipher where she was positioned. The midwifes hadn’t noticed until at one of my last check-ups a midwife recommended I go for a scan that same day as she thought my baby was breech. I cried as I left the healthcare centre, as I’m sure many other mothers have cried before me.
Until then I was coming at birth from the approach that I wanted to do everything as naturally as possible and that meant no medication, no needles, very little intervention and a nice room up in the midlife led unit at my local hospital. I had completed a hypnobirthing course and was chanting out affirmations that I kept on pieces of paper at my bedside table. Being in an operating theatre high as a kite on medication and being cut open on a table was literally my worst fear! I hadn’t had a single operation in my 33 years of life and I liked it that way!
So, I went for the scan and sure enough the scan showed that my baby was lying transverse and that I would need a caesarean delivery. My heart sank but my mind raced with ideas of what I could do next.
During the time between the scan and my caesarean date I tried everything possible to turn my daughter. I even tried an ECV – where the specially qualified doctor tries to turn your baby with their hands from the outside. After 3 attempts it was not successful and I experienced a lot of pain at the third attempt. I later tried staying active on my gym ball, lying upside down on a board, regular acupuncture, moxibustion (I will never be able to stomach the smell of moxibustion sticks ever again!), you name it I tried it but alas my little bundle did not want to get into position. I came to the conclusion there had to be a reason why she wouldn’t turn and that it was meant to be.
The morning of the birth came and I actually found I was quite calm because I knew what time to go to hospital, I knew what would happen, I knew when my daughter would be born (roughly) and so actually the natural organiser in me felt quite calm that everything was planned and organised.
The operation itself was fine. I was obviously nervous about the spinal injection and drip in my hand because I absolutely hate needles but being high as a kite helped and I just remember chattering away to anyone in the theatre who would listen. We forgot to bring any music with us so chose from a collection of 80’s and 90’s cd’s that the hospital had available and I just remember listening to UB40 as my daughter was born. So surreal. As it turns out the cord was wrapped around her neck and she needed to come out quickly so it gave me solace that a caesarean birth was meant to be.
My recovery period was fairly good but I was still out of action for a while. You definitely cannot compare yourself to a Mum who has given birth naturally. It’s a much longer, and sometimes frustrating, process. I had to rely on my partner for quite a long time to help me move around and do things like pass me our baby, help me out of bed, go to the toilet and cook for me. My wound hurt a lot like a hot burn. As much as it healed quickly on the outside with no infections my inside was hot and burning all the time.
I tried to use all my nutrition knowledge to help me heal, in amongst the sleepless nights and sleepless days. I drank soups with bone broth, drank and snacked frequently, ate a good protein filled breakfast and tried to cook most meals from scratch as we usually do. My go to meal was quinoa and salmon with olive oil and toasted seeds. I felt like a zombie 90% of the time but I kept my world small and tried not to do too much.
Sadly, one week after my daughter was born I received some shocking and sad news that my partner from a previous relationship had died as a result of a tragic accident. It’s hard to explain the emotions I had going on at that time because everything seemed very surreal. My daughter had been born in a snowstorm, we had been trapped in hospital for an extra day unable to leave due to being snowed in. It was freezing cold, and we wanted to hunker down with our new-born whilst being completely sleep deprived. I’d spend the evening feeding her in her nursery with the red Himalayan salt lamp glowing and just feeling so happy that she was here and that I was finally holding her in my arms but in the same moment so sad that I’d lost someone very significant in my life at such a young age.
The first few weeks are an emotionally rollercoaster anyway but this felt even worse than I could’ve expected. I sobbed a lot but also rested as much as I could to give me the energy I needed. I reached out to old friends to share my happy news and console in the bad news. I grieved one loss as I celebrated the birth of my daughter. It was a very strange time.
As I reflect on my caesarean experience and the weeks that followed, I know I didn’t have the birth I had originally wanted but I know it happened for a reason and that it was a good experience. Every mother has her own unique birth story to share.
I still don’t really like looking or touching my scar and my tummy hasn’t returned to its previous flat appearance, but I now see things through the eyes of a mother and those things don’t matter as much as they used to. What matters is that my daughter was delivered safely and she’s here, healthy and happy and very much loved with all my heart.
If you would like any advice about how you can support yourself during a caesarean recovery I offer 1:1 packages over 1, 3 and 6 months providing nutrition and lifestyle. I approach recovery from a holistic perspective using a combination of natural food, nourishing meals, supplements and lifestyle advice.
If you would like more information you can visit Packages here