Tuesday, March 4, 2014

C-Sections... On the Bright Side!

Yesterday I promised to write a post about the positive aspects I'd found from having had three c-sections.  After all, there are a lot of articles out there to tell you why to avoid them.  I think those bases are covered.  But for those women like me who are going to be having one because they and their doctor's believe it's the best choice for the situation they're in, I thought I'd shine a small ray of light.  It may not be the ideal we dreamed of or planned, but its not all storm clouds and gloom either!

1.  Knowing when baby is going to arrive- Okay, admittedly this isn't 100%.  Maggie decided to join us the weekend before her schedule c-section.  However, the idea of knowing roughly when to expect baby (and knowing that we can't go past that day) does make things significantly easier for Paul and I (as long as baby doesn't decide to come super early) when arranging child care for the big day.

This is big since we don't have family, or really anyone who's watched the kids who we can fall back on in the state we live in.  Having a date and being able to organize childcare is one of those things that I appreciate about having to have a c-section.

2.  Three words: Hospital Baby-Moon- So, if you've read any pregnancy books or magazines that suggest taking a "baby-moon" you probably picture a trip to someplace warm and sunny with virgin margaritas or to a cozy bed and breakfast somewhere that you take early in the second trimester when you're hopefully past morning sickness, but not yet feeling gigantic and ready to pop.  And for the first two babies I definitely didn't look at my time in the hospital this way.  I refused everything except motrin, with the exception of 1 dose of painkillers, after my c-section with Mae just so I could go home after two days.

But with Patrick I found that I really appreciated the extra time in the hospital to snuggle and bond with baby and eat meals that I hadn't cooked for myself (okay, it probably helps that the hospital that I'm going to be delivering in has a fantastic menu that is simply amazing).  I knew that the girls were well cared for and having fun and going to the zoo with their grandparents (and coming to visit me and the baby daily) and I let myself enjoy that extra time to nurse and cuddle without having to jump up to pull someone down who was scaling a baby gate.

3.  Nursing-  This isn't a plus specifically for c-sections but I wanted to address it.  One of the scare tactics that's used when the topic of c-sections comes up is that someone is likely to act as if you're going to have problems nursing if you have a c-section.  While I'm sure that's true for some women (and for some who go through natural births too), it isn't an across the board rule, and hasn't been my experience at all.

When Sadie was born they whisked her away for about 45 minutes to clean her up while I was sewed up.  When Maggie was born they took her away for about an hour and a half to get her bathed (both times Paul was with the girls the entire time, with Maggie he finally demanded they stop what they were doing and bring her back to me).  With Patrick I was shocked when they kept him in the room and handed him to me immediately and let me hold him while they wheeled me into recovery (something they told me was impossible at our hospital in California, but is a policy I love at the hospital here in Michigan).  But one thing stayed the same across the board with all three babies. They all started nursing right away without any problem.  My milk still came in while we were in the hospital and it was still the start of almost two years of nursing with each kid being weaned a couple months before the next one was born.

In other words, having a c-section doesn't inevitably mean you'll have problems nursing, any more than any other choice will mean that it will be easy (I still solidly struggled with nursing my first time around from about 1-2 months, but that had nothing to do with how Sadie came into the world and had everything to do with her being a reflux-y baby who nursed every hour for the first 18 months of her life).

About to meet Mae.
4. Not going through labor before the c-section-  This one isn't specific to all c-sections, but is for those moms out there who know their having a c-section in advance for some reason, like I'll know with this baby, or like we might have known if we'd realized Patrick had flipped transverse after that first ultrasound when we got to the hospital when he was still head down.

I have had one c-section when I hadn't gone through hours of labor (they'd actually been blocking my labor, which was apparently progressing anyways, but I hadn't felt a thing, despite not having any sort of painkillers).  And it made all the difference in the world.  After both Sadie and Patrick's births I felt like I'd been run over by a truck.

After Maggie's birth, the mostly "planned" c-section I was up and ready to go.  I was begging nurses to let me out of bed that day.  I was refusing morphin left and right.  I was ready to take a shower and get dressed.

So while I don't regret that long, long trial of labor with Patrick in the least, in my experience there was an advantage to not going through labor before having surgery.  I found it much easier to recover when my body had only gone through the surgery, without the extra fun of an unsuccessful labor.

5.  Baby-  I'm going to try to put this one into words that won't be misconstrued.  When Sadie was born the skin on her head was actually broken by my pelvis (or possibly by being pulled back from where shed gotten stuck).  Her heart was decelerating with each contraction for a while.  And Patrick was seriously battered by a long labor in a position that just wasn't going to work.  When you're in a situation where natural delivery just isn't going to work, I do think it can be a blessing not to go through all of that for you and for baby.  After all the end goal is having a safe delivery with a warm, snuggly baby in your arms at the end.  That's what we're all praying for, no matter how baby ends up being delivered.  

6.  Surviving-  This is the biggest plus.  Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, I'm here to raise my children.  And my children are here too.  Without c-sections neither Sadie or I would have survived the ordeal of childbirth and I'm infinitely grateful that we live in a time when the doctor's were able to bring both of us through that day.  That trumps my birth plan and some imagined experience I would have liked to have any day of the week.


  1. Thank you for writing this!!! It's time for those of us with c-sections to stand up and say we weren't wrong!

    Like you, Ella and I wouldn't be here without one. I laboured hard for 27 1/2 hours and she never did drop.

    The point of a pregnancy is a healthy baby -no matter how they arrive.

  2. Yes, thank you for writing this! I too am a c-section mama. I prayed for so long for a vaginal delivery and after two and half days and a little over three hours of pushing, my doctor thought a c-section was necessary (big boy was 9.5 lbs). With my second, my doctor was only comfy going three days past delivery to try for VBAC, which wasn't enough time for my second to start labor on his own. Ultimately, resulting in no TOL and repeat c-section scheduled. All that being said, I've been trying to reframe and be more positive and joyful about this fact of life for us. After having two c-sections I know I won't find a doctor comfy with trying to VBAC and I don't even think I'm comfy about it either after all the reading etc. Thank you for sharing. I've been following your series. Also, I'm praying for you all during this lenten season. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it was to realize the non-gluten free playdoh is what was interrupting all the hard earned progress. You're doing an amazing job! Prayers!


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