My Redeeming C-Section Experience
There’s a huge cultural focus on natural birth now. I think this is beautiful and fully support women who choose to go that route. This was of course what I was planning for my first birth — an unmedicated, hospital birth, but it didn’t go according to plan. My biggest regret from my first birth is that I didn’t prepare myself at all for the possibility that I might have a C-section. I spent all my time focusing on how to avoid having a C-section, and that’s what I see a lot in blog posts and books.
I knew that because of my previous C-section plus the fact that I was carrying twins (one of whom was breech for much of the pregnancy), that a C-section was very likely. My doctor absolutely supported me in my ability to make a choice about the type of delivery I wanted to have, and she would have been fine with me attempting a vaginal birth. At the end of the day, however, the chances felt too high that even if I attempted a vaginal birth, I would end up with a C-section, and I didn’t want to go through both again. I wondered if I would regret this decision, but I’m now two weeks out and don’t feel an ounce of regret.
I’m sharing my birth story in hopes that you will see that a beautiful C-section experience is possible. I’m so grateful for the redeeming experience that I had with this birth.
About 6 months into my pregnancy, I scheduled a date for my C-section. Two weeks before that date, I went in for a growth scan. At that appointment they told me that my boy twin was measuring 4 weeks behind his sister, and that they would want to take them 9 days earlier than what we had scheduled. I was somewhat ready for the high likelihood that I wouldn’t make it to my scheduled date because I was having twins. After the initial shock, I was okay with the change. Forty-eight hours before my scheduled time, I had to go to the hospital to do a non-stress test and to have some blood work done.
The day before my C-section we spent a relaxing day at home, and that night my husband and I went out to dinner for our “last supper” before the chaos of newborn life. The next morning we woke up and puttered around the house, mostly just wasting time before leaving for the hospital. My scheduled time was 12, and we had to be there at 10. It would have been nice to have an earlier time because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after 4AM, so I was already pretty hungry by 10!
We showed up to the hospital right on time and ended up having to wait to be admitted for 30 minutes. Finally we went to a small triage room. They had me put on a hospital gown, hooked me up to monitor the babies’ heart rates, and started me on an IV to combat dehydration. In this room I met the nurse who would be taking care of me during and directly post-surgery; they paired me with a nurse who had 6-year-old twin girls. I also met with the anesthesiologist who explained his piece of the surgery. The nurse gave me some IV antibiotics and anti-nausea med, and an antacid that she instructed me to take like a tequila shot; it was nasty. Meanwhile my husband suited up in his surgical scrubs, a hair net, and booties. I made sure to give a copy of my birth plan to my nurse and discuss it with her to make sure that they knew my wishes and we had a plan for making those things happen.
We ended up having to wait in triage for about an hour after my scheduled time because another surgery took longer than they expected. We sat in the room and channel surfed before settling on a HGTV home renovation show.
Eventually they said it was time and we walked over to the OR. My husband had to wait in another room for about 20 minutes while they administered the spinal block and got me situated on the table. I was pretty nervous at this point. I definitely had the feeling of, sh**, I don’t really want to go through with this, but there’s no easy to get these babies out, so here we go! I had made a playlist to shuffle play in the background, so I handed my phone to someone to plug in and get the music going.
I got the spinal block, they laid me down, and put up a drape. I had requested a clear drape so that I could see the babies being delivered, so they had a clear drape, and then a blue one in front of that to lower down when the time came. At this point they also inserted a catheter after I was all numbed up. It was honestly a relief to have a catheter in after months of constantly feeling like I have to pee! My husband came back in and counted 12 people in the room — because we were having premature twins, they had staff from the NICU there as well.
I was a bit shaky because of the drugs and nerves, too! They said that was really normal. I had to lay with my arms straight out in a T. My husband had a stool but could stand up and watch at any time. The anesthesiologist stayed right behind me and was so amazing, rubbing my shoulders and neck every so often and saying reassuring things. My doctor explained what was happening, but I couldn’t feel anything besides pulling and pressure. It took about 20 minutes to cut through my skin and abs and get to my uterus. My doctor went through my earlier incision site.
When it was time for the babies to be born, my husband stood up and started snapping pictures. They lowered the drape, but I still really couldn’t see what was going on. I heard brother crying before I saw him, but my doctor got him out and lifted him up so I could see. There was my baby boy! They cut the cord long so my husband could cut it, too, and whisked him to the side to check him out; but I knew he was okay because he was screaming! Then three minutes later out came sister, screaming as well, and the OR was filled with the sound of them crying back and forth to each other. We made some jokes about how this was the first of many cry-filled days.
I’m going to link to pictures of their delivery, but click at your own risk! Birth is messy and bloody, and a C-section birth is no different. Here is brother’s delivery and sister’s delivery.
Once they were out, they called out their weights, lengths, and the times they were born. They whisked brother off to the NICU (which we expected), and my husband came over to let me know that was happening and that he was going to follow him to the NICU, according to our plan. Before he left, he told me that they weren’t going to have to take sister, and I was thrilled.
The rest of the time was about 40 minutes of them delivering the placenta, sewing up my uterus, and then sewing up the rest! This part I honestly got bored. They were still checking out sister, but eventually they brought her over to me and I got to hold her while they were finishing the surgery. This had been something that I had really been hoping for, so I was really excited. Even so, it was awkward to be laying down and holding her, and my shoulders and neck were hurting. I kept hoping it was almost over because I wasn’t very comfortable.
I said goodbye to my wonderful doctor, and they wheeled me into the recovery room. I was in this room for about an hour and a half with sister. They had a lactation consultant come and try to help me latch her, and my nurse was monitoring my vitals and checking the bleeding, etc. One unpleasant aspect was that the nurse would periodically press down on my abdomen to try to pass any large clots stuck inside here. This part felt long, too, besides the fact that I was holding my baby daughter! My husband was with brother doing skin-to-skin in the NICU, and I felt like he was gone for a long time. We knew that this would be the case and had asked if I could have another person with me in recovery, and they said no.
My legs and feet felt huge and rubbery, and I kept trying to move my feet but nothing would happen. Eventually the feeling started to come back and everything tingled, but it took a while, until after I was transferred to my postpartum room. Being transferred from the recovery bed to the postpartum bed was so weird, as well. It’s so trippy to have the nurses lift you and you basically can’t help in any way; feeling like you weigh 6 tons.
At this point I was starving, but they wouldn’t let me eat because they were worried that I would throw up from the anesthesia. I had to start with water and juice, and then tried some crackers.
They started me on Motrin and Norco (Hydrocodone) pretty soon after surgery so that it would be an easy transition as the anesthesia wore off. After 12 hours, they got me to stand up for the first time and walk to the bathroom with the nurse’s assistance. That’s honestly the worst, trying to sit up for the first time. The incision site burns so badly, and I couldn’t stand up straight; just hobbled to the bathroom and back. They kept me on a tight med schedule to make sure to stay on top of the pain. Once I was mobile, they took out my catheter and made sure I was stable enough to walk to the bathroom on my own. Although it was painful, it felt good to get that bit of independence right off the bat.
One amazing thing my hospital does for C mamas is give an abdominal binder. Inquire ahead of time if yours does, and if not, buy one! Helps SO much with the pain when I was trying to get mobile, and I still used mine after I got home to help with pain while walking around. Of course there are so many factors that go into recovery, but I honestly felt great 11 days post surgery and was forgetting to take my pain meds! Since I’ve been home I’ve only been taking the Motrin.
My nurse also brought a special surgical cleanser for me to use to scrub my incision a few days after surgery. Although I felt nervous to touch my incision, it was good for me to get my hands on it to release fear and see that it wasn’t so bad after all. My doctor used stitches and then small bandages. The stitches will dissolve on their own, and I’ve already taken off the small bandages. I am still experiencing some sensitivity around my abdominal area surrounding the incision, so I wear shorts with elastic waistband that I can wear high enough that it doesn’t bother me. (I like Soffee shorts — remember these from high school?) I wear granny panties as well that I can pull up higher on my waist so they don’t rub my incision or the sensitive skin around it. Last time and this time I have a pooch of skin that sticks out above the incision. It freaked me out after my first C-section, but it eventually went away! My sensitivity also totally went away; I actually had some residual numbness in the area, but nothing that bothered me.
Once I feel that my incision is totally healed over, I plan to start doing gentle massage on and around the incision to help promote healing and prevent adhesions. Touching my incision helps me to accept it as a normal part of my body. I love this C-mama salve from Earth Mama Angel Baby; I used it last time and will use it again. My doctor this time said that I healed really well from my earlier C-section, and I think part of that is because of the massage.
Again, I hope it’s helpful for you to read my positive experience and get an idea of what to expect if you’re planning to have a C-section. It can be a sweet, peaceful experience, and you have lots of choices to make it your own. I would love to hear your feedback or questions, so please comment, join the conversation on my Instagram, or email me!
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