From the start of my pregnancy I knew I would be having an elective Caesarian. Reason being, when my husband was little he had brittle bones and broke approx 30 bones between the age of 1-12 (sob- he’s an absolute dream boat now though so don’t worry) and there’s a 50% chance of it passing on to our baby, so obv a vaginal birth would pose risks for a baby with weak bones.
I was really open with telling people this throughout my pregnancy and was pretty shocked at some of the reactions:
“Oh no, you won’t get to experience the incredible feeling of labour, it’s so amazing what the female body can do” – I’m ok missing out on excruciating contractions thanks love and in case you hadn’t realised I’ll be having my body sliced open – pretty incredible too I’d say!
“Are you too posh to push” – ummm is that even a thing on the NHS!!!
“Oh no, I’ve heard the recovery is awful” – thanks for that, at least my faj will be intact tho.
I did find it a bit upsetting sometimes, thinking I was missing out on some divine experience but at the end of the day I was having a baby, who cares how he comes out so long as he’s healthy.
In case you don’t know, when you have an elective c-section you deliver at 39 weeks (meeting my baby a week early yey!), and we were given our “due” date about three months into our pregnancy. Knowing when you’re going to meet you’re little bundle is incredible, but also weird at the same time as there’s no mystery as to when your family of two will become three.
In the run up to the section we met up with the anaesthetist (usually the one who’ll be there on the day but they messed our appt up so ours was a different doctor) to ask questions and get an overview of what was going to happen on the day.
Here’s a run through of my experience:
No food after ten, just water, and I had to take some tablets to prevent reflux.
However, on a absolute plus note you are told to carb load! So naturally we had pasta bake (complete with extra cheese and crushed crisps) and garlic bread followed by some form of microwave pudding- sounds ideal but remember you have a baby hogging your stomach capacity 😫
I was awake really early (obv) and had been told I was allowed a carton of apple juice before 7am (cheers love, really filled me up that did) so I guzzled that as I was starving. We set off for the hospital at about 7 to get there for 7.30.
Once we arrived we were taken to a room where I was given a gown to pop on as well as some thrombosis socks (v tricky to get on!). The midwife then came back and told me to remove all jewellery, told me off for wearing shellac (no nail varnish allowed!), and asked if I needed my lady garden pruning which awkwardly I did- I hadn’t had a wax and hadn’t been able to see my V in about 3 months so she cracked on with her NHS electric shaver- in front of my husband may I add!! Note to self- prep own bikini line for next baby!
Next up the doctors came and asked me some routine questions and introduced themselves so I was aware who would be in theatre, I was surprised how many there were:
2 anaesthetists, a midwife, a nurse, a paediatrician (most likely there for me as there were potential complications, may not be there for everyone), the consultant doing the operation and a couple of doctors assisting – so 8 in total!
Next, they went off for a final meeting before coming back and wheeling me into theatre. I was pretty petrified by this point as I’m terrified of needles and all things bloody so I was shaking and crying already. Once in theatre I was told to sit with my legs dangling off the side of the bed and they put my cannula in, my husband was with me the whole time due to me being so scared (normally they get you stable and bring hubby in once the spinal block is done). The actual pain from the cannula was really minimal as the anaesthetists do these all the time, but the thought of it was what made me all weak and shakey.
Next up was the spinal block, for which you have to lean over a cushion. They started off with a few injections to numb my back a bit, and as you can’t see them they aren’t too bad at all. Next up they went in with the main needle, and told me to stay very still. This panicked me and I was already shaking and crying a lot but the irrational fear of being paralysed made me sit dead still. I’m not going to lie, the sensation was not pleasant at all and I was really glad when it was over, which it was, really quickly!! To ease the pain the anaesthetists distracted me with a conversation about Micheal Mcintyre- I don’t remember my opinion on this at the time – for the record though I think he’s pretty lols.
Next up you just lay down and wait for your body to go numb from the boobs (ish) down. This is a really weird feeling as you tell your leg to move and it just doesn’t, all very well given what’s about to happen on your tummy I guess!
They spray you with a really cold spray (as the feeling of extreme cold is similar to pain apparently) on a part of your body that isn’t numb then on an area that is to make sure you are in fact totally devoid of pain.
Now the exciting bit…
A screen was put up (really high in my case as I’m so scared of blood and could see the reflections on the theatre lights) and they started the operation. No joke, within about four minutes our baby was out and peering over the screen at us, an absolutely amazing and incredibly overwhelming moment and one I will remember for ever!! I just remember feeling in shock at how cute he was and that he had all the right parts, not sure what I was expecting! I honestly think I thought he would be ugly (a genuine fear throughout pregnancy, as contrary to popular belief – some babies are actually ugly).
He cried soon after that, and they spent some time checking he was ok (unique to my experience due to the bone thing), before finally putting him on my chest for me and my husband to ogle. My lips and mouth were so dry at this point I could barely speak so the nurse had to bring me a moistened piece of cloth to suck, mainly so I didn’t look all gummy on the pictures that were kindly taken by the nurses for us.
Some people say you can feel some sort of sensation when they start to operate (like a washing machine) but I felt nothing at all from start to finish and was surprised when I realised I had a catheter in and they had already finished closing me up. I was so focussed on Reunah that the time from holding him to being closed really flew by, but I would say it probably took them about 35 minutes.
Throughout the operation the anaesthetists kept asking if I felt ok (they were wary as I had mentioned I tended to faint at the sight of blood) and were incredibly kind and caring, making me feel totally at ease in what is a really scary environment (let’s face it, you are having an operation whilst awake and also becoming a parent at the same time!).
Before going into the operation I had been keen for delayed cord clamping and skin to skin immediately but didn’t get either, and in all honestly I couldn’t have cared less in the end, they delivered my baby healthily and placed him on my chest as soon as they could, what more could I ask for!!
After the op I was wheeled into recovery to be monitored for about half an hour, throughout which I was with baby and husband, before being wheeled up to our room. During this time I asked the midwife to help me “start breast feeding” – I use the inverted commas as I was under the impression Reunah would find my nipple and tuck in! No, no…despite them finding it for him, he had no idea what it was and did not “latch on”! An issue that caused me some distress for days to come and that I had presumed was something that would come naturally post birth- how wrong I was! (More on this in later blog posts).
I was lucky to have a private room at Airedale in which my husband had a camp bed for the duration, which for us was a god send. I think if I had been alone I would have been even more emotional (if that’s possible) and just generally not have coped too well without his constant support.
We spent two nights in hospital in total, all of which is a total blur (everyone says this but it really is!).
I was in quite a lot of pain and had a few breakdowns but the midwives were super and gave me stronger medicine to help. One thing to be aware of on this front is that the medicines they give you can cause constipation, not something you really want when dealing with a major abdominal scar.
Having the catheter in was an absolute dream as I didn’t have to get up to go to the loo, so I opted to keep it in for as long as I was allowed, when they finally took it out the day after the operation I was petrified but it didn’t hurt at all and was out really quickly (same can be said for the cannula). However, for me, following the removal of my catheter my scar pain got quite bad, I kept being asked if I had been for a wee, which I hadn’t as I didn’t need to go, until finally I just went anyway and did the most almighty wee. Turns out my bladder was numb so I didn’t feel the need to go but actually really did, which in turn put pressure on my scar.
One thing I wasn’t a fan of were the injections you have to administer yourself for ten days after the operation to prevent clotting. My husband did these for me and it was unpleasant for all involved and a huge relief when the last jab had been jabbed. A little tip for anyone doing them, don’t do them in your bottom- my thought process was that my bum was soft and had plenty of padding so I wouldn’t feel anything. Wrong, your bum tenses when jabbed therefore the needle bends and you end up in a pickle!
The day after the operation I was taken for a shower by a lovely lady who removed my dressing, I was really surprised they took this off so soon but it actually felt good to have air to the scar, and the shower made me feel a bit more human but I was still in a lot of pain and could only walk with a very acute hunch back and at an extremely slow pace.
By day two, we had cabin fever and my husband asked the midwife “when are we allowed to leave” to which she responded with a laugh and pointed out that we weren’t in prison and could leave whenever we wanted. Following this we got the ball rolling and the nurses got the relevant paperwork completed ready for discharge. Saying bye to our little room was weirdly emotional as it had been our home as a family for two days, but these two days felt like about a week given the emotion and lack of sleep involved. However, that said, we were delighted to breath in the fresh air and make our way home as a family of three.
Please note this reflects my experience as I remember it, I’m no doctor and every experience is different.