This is a great story I got from P. It’s another perspective on what might possibly happen during your labour and delivery. She also wrote out a few helpful tips at the end! All my input is in the text boxes, the rest of the story is written by P herself.
The Perfect Birth Plan
On reflection, I was totally oblivious to the process that is labour and delivery! I wrote a beautiful birth plan which consisted of a water birth, for the entire experience to be captured on camera as I figured it would be like sitting in a field of beautiful roses while having a back massage. Also, I asked that I’d be home the same day as I had read loads of stories which told me so. I even brought my make up bag with me… hilarious!
It’s pretty common for women to be unprepared for the birth of their first child. They’ve never done it before, so how can they know what to expect? That being said I still highly recommend writing a birth plan, to be prepared for anything that can happen! Just writing one out will help you learn about the different things that can transpire throughout your experience. Check out the Babytalk blog post on writing a birth plan here.
Another great way to prepare is to read birth stories just like this one! The Birth Stories section of the blog has some more if you’re interested. There are also tons of books and websites written with birth stories, soak them all in while you’re still pregnant to get an idea of what might lie ahead.
Prodromal or Latent Phase Labour for Days
Here I sat on the bathroom floor 38 weeks pregnant in absolute agony for the 3rd day running. I had been in slow labour for 3 days however my midwife advised that baby’s head was nowhere near engaged so I should continue to walk. On the 3rd night of slow labour and what felt like weeks of dying with pain, I felt a huge gush of water, my waters had finally broken.
It seems to be a common theme, to have a long latent phase. And oh, is it ever tiring! Really, in this stage of the game there is nothing you can really do but try to rest and eat and stay hydrated. Some facilities will offer you stronger pain meds so that you can rest properly for a few hours. Other health care providers will tell you to take Tylenol and a warm bath. Find out what works for you! In the end you WILL go into proper labour, even though this latent phase feels like pure torture.
At The Hospital – Crazy Pain
I attended the hospital to be told I was only 3 centimetres dilated as the midwife rolled her eyes at my pathetic excuse of a pain threshold! 3 centimetres! “If I get to 10 cm I’m going to die,” I thought. I was sent over for examination due to the intense pain I was experiencing to be informed that my baby was struggling to breathe due to the shape of my pelvic canal, hence the pain at 3 centimetres! A short while later in flood a dozen nurses and doctors, at this point I knew something was wrong, my baby wasn’t ok!
Every woman is different! Some feel very little pain at 7 centimetres and some feel so much pain at 1 cm. I feel bad that P’s midwife rolled her eyes at her reaction to pain. Pain is whatever the patient says it is, because it’s their experience and not ours to judge as health care providers.
Baby Needs Help – FAST
The doctor informed that I would need to have an emergency C-section and quick if I wanted my poor baby to survive! At this point, I was experiencing a range of emotions. The main one being a FAILURE. Why me, I almost felt as though I had let myself and my family down and that I no longer qualified as a woman! Secondly, I google absolutely everything and I did not prepare AT ALL for what a C-section would bring! With that being said I had been stuck in labour for what felt like 3 months and experiencing yet another contraction where I knew that my baby could potentially lose his life. So I told the doctor “TO CUT ME OPEN AND GET THIS BABY OUT NOW”.
This is a prime example of how quickly things can change. I’m guessing there was a big dip in the baby’s heart rate which prompted the nurses and doctors to rush for an emergency C-section. Luckily, in this day and age we have the technology to get babies out really quickly. Unfortunately, it’s common for women to blame themselves. Check out Stacey’s Birth Story, she had the exact same emotions. And me for that matter! It took me years to come to terms with the fact that I needed a C-section. Women are too hard on themselves. Sometimes we have to just trust the process and know that things happen for a reason! Also, it’s very important to debrief with your team after an emergency like this. Things happen very quickly and it’s harder to ask questions in the moment when the adrenaline is flowing.
An Emergency C-Section
The adrenaline I felt was crazy, so much so that I didn’t even feel the spinal injection they gave me (I am terrified of injections, so I was super proud)! I would say that the only downside was that my partner wasn’t able to come in for the spinal as I was informed that he may “contaminate” the area! (I could see him pacing up and down the room outside) After the spinal, I couldn’t feel my legs or the bottom half of my body! Although it was a weird feeling, I didn’t experience any pain, what I did experience was trickling down my leg. When I asked the midwife what was going on she stated: “Oh don’t worry, you’ve weed yourself”. My dignity was officially gone!
It sounds like this all happened very quickly, no wonder P had an adrenaline rush! So many things were done to her all at once. If you’d like to read more about C-sections, I have written a blog about the basics of what happens, and you can find it here. Also, it is common practice for partners to wait outside while the spinal is being done. I believe this is mainly because if the spinal doesn’t work than the woman will have to be put under general. This is considered to be an emergency situation and when that happens the partner has to wait outside until after the baby is born and the mother wakes up again. It sucks though! Some anesthetists are accommodating and allow partners to be in the room during a spinal, so don’t hesitate to ask because procedures could be different at your hospital!
I remember feeling the knife cut into me but feeling absolutely no pain what so ever, such a crazy feeling. The only way I can describe the feeling of a C-section is like someone washing up in your stomach, it’s so bizarre. The only pain I felt was when the applied intense force to get my little man out! I remember squeezing my other half’s and the midwife’s hand for dear life as the tugged away at my poor baby. Every minute counted if my baby was to arrive safely due to the complications I was presented with.
The pressure P was feeling, was her baby being delivered. The C-section incision is very small and when it’s time for the baby to be born, the doctors have to push down on the uterus to help the baby to be born. It’s a super weird feeling! You shouldn’t be feeling anything sharp though, let your anesthetist know if you do.
P’s Baby Arrives
Within 15 minutes of being told I required a C-section my baby was born. My baby wasn’t handed to me immediately as he required checks to make sure he was in good health. This was the most terrifying few minutes of my life, not knowing what was going on. However, when they handed him to me he was perfect and healthy.
Babies usually need to be examined right after they are born via C-section. Especially after an emergency like this one! If the baby’s heart rate was dropping in utero (that’s medical speak for in your uterus), he might have come out needing some resuscitation measures. But don’t worry, most babies are very resilient and recover shortly after the birth.
Having had a c-section I would love to offer other mothers some tips to a smooth recovery:
Post-C-section Tips From P
1. Please take it easy, my C-section scar opened in four places on two separate occasions as I was up doing housework, hoovering and cleaning when I should have been resting! It’s so important that you rest as you’ve had major surgery.
2. Drink plenty of water, as this will help to go to the toilet and will help to minimize constipation.
3. Make sure you keep on top of your painkillers, I can’t stress how important this one is. I remember thinking I didn’t need to take them as I wasn’t in any form of pain… BOY, was I wrong! I was In agony! Painkillers were my best friend.
4. Keep your incision clean and dry to avoid infection. If you feel any redness or unusual substance leaking from it, please call your healthcare provider. It is possible that it may be infected.
5. Use the stool softener that they give you! This will help for when you go for a number 2 and eliminate the need to strain which may cause pressure to your C-Section incision.
6. Get emotional support (if needed) having a C-Section can be a traumatic experience, particularly if it was an emergency C-Section so please seek support if you’re feeling upset or disappointed.
7. Pack high-waisted pants for the hospital. They are great as it will prevent anything rubbing against your c-section scar.
These are great tips P, thanks for sharing! I especially like number 6. If you see you doctor or midwife the day after your surgery, it can be a good idea to talk about what happened, what could have gone better, etc. Don’t be shy to ask questions about your experience and don’t hesitate to write some down. This will be very helpful in your healing process. Also, if your mood hasn’t improved about 2 weeks postpartum, you need to seek medical help. If you feel unable to contact someone yourself, ask your partner or a family member to help you. Postpartum depression and anxiety are the number one obstetrical complications and are also under diagnosed. You deserve the help you need!
As for number 7. I totally agree, a great little tip. These panties on Amazon are a great choice!
As I sit here 11 weeks post baby, I have a range of emotions going round in my head! It’s only now, I’ve had the chance to actually reflect on life with a newborn. I’ve been so busy adjusting to life with a baby who is high maintenance due to his colic and acid reflux!
I have felt happy, emotional, impatient, agitated, bursting with pride, tired and overwhelmed with responsibility! I’m not ashamed to say that there were times that I felt all this responsibility of caring for and nurturing little people was beyond my capability!
The period after having my little man was both physically and emotionally draining. My body went through so many changes, it almost felt as though it was no longer mine, Particularly as I was breastfeeding. While learning how to manage all these adjustments to my own body, I was also having to meet the needs of my new little human.
Having the support from family and friends, accepting help and having a timeout has really helped with my baby blues. And I’m pleased to say I’m on the road to recovery with an extremely happy and healthy baby boy in tow.
So well written! Thank you P, I couldn’t agree more. It’s so important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical while recovering from birth. Take it slow and be kind to yourself, accept all the help that is offered and don’t feel guilty about not being able to do it all. In good time you will start to master this new thing called motherhood. But in the meantime, try to enjoy the time you have with your baby. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
More on Postpartum Depression from Babytalk: Postpartum Mental Health