I would like to advise to another mom to get a doula for her birth and I would advise them to make sure you allow the right people into your delivery room. Make sure you have somebody you trust to make life decisions for you in case you lost consciousness. Trusting or accepting the wrong person into the room can be seriously prejudicial.
-Jaqueline Lèbre Bacellar
I would advise mothers to hire a Doula for both birth and recovery. Make sure that you are seen by a lactation consultant immediately following the birth. The trauma of an unexpected surgery can cause many women to have difficulty producing enough breastmilk. Even under the best of circumstances breastfeeding doesn’t always work right away, sometimes there are issues involving the baby like tongue or lip ties that cause a poor latch. Sometimes there are issues with the positioning of the baby or the milk supply of the mother. If any of these issues goes uncorrected for more than a day it can cause the mothers nipples to get extremely sore and chafed which can in turn lead to the maternity nurses offering the mother a nipple shield. Nipple shields can offer short term relief from pain but they frequently cause a whole host of increasing difficulty and problems with the baby’s latch and the mothers supply and they don’t resolve the underlying cause. A trained lactation consultant or International Board Certified Lactation consultant (IBCLC) or even a volunteer breastfeeding councilor can really help you get off to the best possible start in your breastfeeding relationship.
The best advice I can give to anyone who has to have a c-section, whether it be emergency or planned, would be to make sure that you walk afterwards as much as you can. If you're stuck in the hospital for a few days walk around the maternity wing, walk back and forth from the nursery to your room, take little stretch walks around the hospital. Ask the nurses to watch your baby for you for 15-20 minutes so that you can do that and take all of the help that you can. I'll also add that no one explained to me that I would have nerve damage still 3 years later, or the belly pooch that no matter what I do will never go away. But if I had to go through it all gain I think I would pick a planned c-section, which I will do for my next child because I don't like the uncertainty of not knowing when things are going to happen. Since i've done it once I'm more prepared for it then I was before because when I did my birth plan I didn't plan for any kind of surgery at all.
-Emilie May Bezanson
I think that more information about how this affects the body is important! It's such a big surgery and the next few days are really painful and it's hard to manage both recovery and baby. I was lucky that I had ten weeks of summer off before I had to go back to school. I got the basic info about rest, not picking up stuff, and keeping the wound covered and clean. I had a terrible reaction to the bandage and that left more of a scar than the surgery! Luckily, both the lactation consultants and midwives were super supportive and that helped a lot.
Mesh Undies, Postpartum Belly and Steri Strips
One of my favorite helpful things were all the pairs of mesh undies I was able to get from the hospital. They were amazing to wear for pretty much the first 6 weeks or so. They were comfortable, and allowed for the room needed to always wear a giant menstrual pad. I was quite surprised at just how long the post-birth bleeding lasted. Having a Boppy nursing pillow was pretty key for feedings since I had 2 newborns and wasn't technically allowed to lift more than 1. Being diligent about taking my pain meds (when I was awake at least) when I needed them was important, but so was giving them some time to wear off as time went on so I could really feel if I needed them as much. Another important thing was keeping on top of caring for my incision. The last thing a new mother needs or wants is any complications from the healing of that.
The bleeding discharge was much heavier and lasted a lot longer than it might have if I had been able to go back to my home and had my baby beside me in bed instead of climbing steps, riding elevators and commuting by car too and from her hospital room every day for six weeks. My advice is to be as gentle with yourself as you possibly can be and take all the help you can get!
I strongly believe that if I had better advocated for myself my birth story would be very different. I don't regret the experience because in the end I got the best gift ever, but I do think when we decide to try for baby number two I will make sure to do a better job of advocating for both myself and baby.
Movement is key within the first day, to help your recovery and to make sure the blood is flowing in your legs.
(The first time I stood up) it was weird to stand and notice that I was no longer pregnant. You will still feel small contraction type feelings in your belly for a little while. That was weird to me. Noticing that just 24 hours earlier, Aurora was in my belly and kicking away and now she was laying in her Dad's arms as I relearned how to stand.
After practicing walking and moving and finally going into the bathroom alone, I definitely recommend taking all of the assistance that you can get at first. For me, I am not someone who likes assistance and find it difficult to ask for help. After the c-section, it was easy to ask for. I physically could not do much.
I had no guilt regarding having a C-section. I didn't and don't believe the shit that some people try to make a mother believe about C-sections. It does not matter if you have a vaginal birth, a C-section or adopt. You are just as much of a mom in each case!
-Alison Taylor Enos