Please welcome Anne-Marie, whom is visiting our blog today and sharing her story of having a c-section, after vaginal births. She has some good tips for us on recovery after a c-section as well as breastfeeding, which can sometimes be harder after a c-section than a vaginal birth. Thank you for sharing with us, Anne-Marie!
Anne Marie's story: To start, it's probably best to say that I'm British, living in the UK and I have had all five of our children in British hospitals or midwife-led units. Over here, if you are considered low risk in pregnancy, you usually have the choice to either deliver at home, in a midwife unit or in hospital. Pain relief is discussed during prenatal classes and included in your birth plan. At midwife units, you are only able to use entonox, a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide that gives a mild analgesic effect at the height of contractions, or in some units pethidine injections. Epidurals are only available at consultant led units and then are fairly uncommon.
Sorry that was so long winded, but it sets the scene for how our deliveries took place. Our first and fourth babies we delivered at a midwife led unit, spontaneous onset of labour and I laboured using breathing techniques and during transition entonox to take the edge off of the pain of pushing, however to be honest, once I really concentrated I was able to deal with the pains and each baby was derived after about an hour and a half of pushing. Baby one delivered back to back and baby four with hands at the side of his face. So not your traditional presentation, but manageable with natural methods, it can be done :)
Babies two and three had fairly straight forward deliveries, however I went overdue by 15 days and 10 days respectively, so I was asked to consider induction. Thankfully each time, the midwives were able to break my waters in order to establish labour. Both babies were delivered after about 14 hours, without pain relief. Due to the term of my pregnancies, I had to deliver at a consultant led unit.
Baby five was a different matter, after my waters breaking, I laboured for about 48 hours with some progress, but everything then stopped. The consultant wanted me to have an epidural to accompany the syntocinon (The UK name for Pitocin) as they were concerned the contractions would be too strong to cope with. When the epidural was in place however, labour recommenced and I dilated to 8cm. The drip was then started after 8 hours, within 10 minutes baby's heartbeat become raised and the consultant decided that I would need an immediate c-section.
From the decision being made, it took just 20 minutes for baby to be delivered. She was perfectly healthy, her cord was approximately 20cm in length and was therefore unable to descend into the birth canal, my placenta had begun to abrupt so praise God for the consultant's quick decision to section me.
Having only had natural deliveries, the recovery time after baby 5 , has been much longer. She took longer to take to nursing then my other babies and I needed to learn to hand express, feed her from my finger tips to encourage her to learn how to latch onto my breast, after a couple of days struggle, she began nursing like a pro and is still exclusively breastfed at 5 months old. It can be done :)
Some tips for breastfeeding after a c-section....
-Use a lanolin based cream to prepare your nipples from about 38 weeks, then after every feed when baby has been born, this helped avoid cracked nipples
- Tummy to Mummy, nose to nipple, helped to ensure better position
-Big mouth, fishy lips was mine and my husband's joke, to get baby to latch better, meaning baby had to open his/her mouth wide and his/her lips should look a bit like a fishes when attached to the breast!
- I asked a midwife to demonstrate how to hand express for baby 5, as I'd never had success with this before, actual showing me really helped and reassured me that I'd got colostrum there for her. Ask for help if you don't know how to do this! It can really boost your confidence.
For recovery after c-section, I would do things a lot differently if I had another! I came out of hospital after 24 hours, wanting to be home with my family, however if I'd have stayed in a little longer I may well have rested more. Again I was used to natural delivery, where I have a 3 hour discharge and 24 hours felt like forever! I got a scar infection, not sure but I think this was probably because I tried to do too much too quickly. I would definately rest more if I had another section and not try to be supermum!
I don't know what protocol is after sections in the US but here I had to get up, remove the dressing and take a shower after 12 hours, personally getting the scar wet seems to make it more uncomfortable, just my opinion though. I'd take my full dose of pain relief after delivery, as I again tried to cut them out asap, we didn't really get any advice about this, but I was concerned about becoming reliant on them! taking arnica tablets from 38 weeks and for 2 weeks postnatally has always helped my body recover, so I did that after my section too, not sure how much it helped but it certainly didn't hinder.- Anne Marie
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Anne-Marie! I hope that it gives mother's some encouragement that even when birth does not go quite the way you planned, it does not have to prevent you from breastfeeding with following a few tips that can help.
Be sure to ask for the support, even if you did not need it in previous births or pregnancies. Remember that everyone is different.