One of my dearest friends just recently gave birth via c-section to save the life of her baby. While most of us would agree that we don’t want a c-section, the reality is that some of us are stuck with them. I don’t want to debate the merits of VBAC vs. repeat c-sections here or the overuse of surgery in childbirth. That’s for a different day entirely.
Maybe you have a risky complication like my friend, or perhaps like me, your baby is breech. Either way, you may need to grieve the c-section for a while, as I did, when I realized that my hopes of a natural child birth were gone. I spent my entire pregnancy gearing up for a completely natural childbirth, so it was a huge heartache when I learned that would not be possible. I’d even skipped the c-section chapters of the pregnancy books!
The reality is that some of us will have c-sections, whether we like them or not. And moms need to talk about it, share their experiences so that others can learn from them, and try to make the best of something that really isn’t a ton of fun.
With every pregnancy, I hear disapproving tones from other moms and friends. I hear it in their questions and I see it in their eyes. Sometimes I feel the need to defend my c-sections, but in my third pregnancy, I realized that it was more important that I become content with this idea and make the most of it.
1. Breastfeeding Can Happen!
Nursing is hard for a lot of moms, myself included. But if you add the fact that some of us have to recover from major surgery while trying to learn to breastfeed, things get really complicated and even more difficult. It’s hard to sit up at times and definitely hard to move around. And a medicated body doesn’t respond to breastfeeding the same way an unmedicated one will. But that doesn’t mean nursing can’t work.
You may find that you need to get creative with breastfeeding positions. I’ve found the classic clutch or football hold to be incredibly useful with my babies after a c-section. With my second baby, biological nurturing position was very effective too. You may also need to pump to get your breasts to respond well and give your baby something to latch onto. This is where a good lactation specialist will be a huge help. My philosophy with breastfeeding problems is that I will keep asking for help from different people until I finally find the help that actually works for me and my baby.
After my third c-section, I was too weak to hold my baby. The nurse helped me latch my baby the first time and after that, my husband was able to properly position and latch the baby until I was strong enough to handle it myself. Never be afraid to ask for breastfeeding help. Women are passionate about breastfeeding and will do anything to make it work for you and your baby.
If you’re stuck with a scheduled c-section, you may as well nest your little heart out before that baby comes. When I leave to have a baby for my c-section, my home is spotless and I’ve got my freezer stocked up with meals I’ve made ahead of time.
Since my family lives several hours away, they are always able to make it here for the birth of my babies. It’s one of the few perks of having a scheduled c-section.
That said, we also have to know that like any pregnant mom, we can go into labor at any time. One friend’s water broke while she was out shopping with her mother, well ahead of the scheduled c-section date. It can happen!
3. Wearing Make-Up?
I try to be a relatively low maintenance mama when it comes to hair and make-up, so I’ve usually gone to the hospital make-up free. With my third baby, I decided to go ahead and enjoy the chance to look nice in family photos, so I did put on a little make-up at home. It didn’t matter anyway; I ended up vomiting repeatedly in response to the spinal block and very little make-up was left when the baby arrived. So do what you want when it comes to make-up, but know that it may prove pointless anyway.
4. Husband Involvement
My husband had never changed a diaper before our first baby was born, but once she arrived, I was unable to get out of bed for a time. Consequently, he became the expert on our baby in every area from diapers to swaddling. When our boys were born, it was my husband who taught me how to care for the circumcision because he’d listened to the nurse’s instructions when I was pretty out of it.
After I have my babies, he changes the majority of the diapers for quite a while, and then brings the baby to me for breastfeeding. Instead of grieving over the fact that I can’t care for our baby by myself, I try to focus on how wonderful it is that my husband got an early start at being the hands-on-dad he is today.
5. Walk as Soon as You Can
6. Room in if You Can, but You’re Not a Loser if You Send the Baby to the Nursery
7. Asking for Help
Whether it’s breastfeeding help, meals to feed your family, or someone to watch over your older children, you’re going to have to get some help. Practice saying yes to your friends when they offer help. You might even need to ask people for help because some people simply do not realize how different c-section recovery is from a normal childbirth situation. But they’ll be happy to help. Let them.
My mom lives out of town, so she usually stays to help for several days and then leaves with my older children so that I can recover with just the baby for a time. It’s a blessing. If that’s not an option, then find others who can help you.
Rest is the key to recovering from any childbirth. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion are a recipe for postpartum depression and that’s not a road you want to go down. Take care of you so that you can take care of baby. Lower your standards for your home, your meals, and your children.
8. Focus on the Joy
Enjoy your baby and stop comparing yourself to other moms. Maybe your best friend was energetic and chased her older kids around the backyard when you visited her a week after having her baby. Maybe your other friends have amazing stories of beautiful, natural labor. Celebrate with them. And more importantly, let’s celebrate that our babies are healthy and thriving, thanks to the surgical birth that we didn’t want.
What type of labor & delivery did you have? Did things go as you had planned or were you disappointed? What’s your experience been like on c-section recovery?
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