My experience of a c-section

My experience of a C-section


April marks C-section awareness month. What better time to share my experience of a c-section? Funnily enough, this month is in place to try and reduce the amount of caesarean sections. Also to help parents make informed decisions and promote vaginal births after a c-section. It should be to reassure Mothers they are not a failure after a c-section. The month should celebrate that c-sections are not an easy way out.

I have had 2 c-sections myself, 1 emergency and 1 planned. I wanted to share my experience of a c-section with you. If you are pregnant and a c-section is a possibility, or even if you are doing some research before giving birth, I hope this helps. If you have experienced a c-section yourself, sometimes it is good to hear others experiences.

Disclaimer though, my children are 7 & 8 as I write this so my experiences may not be the most up to date! Although a health professional I am not involved in maternity care at all, as such I have no expert knowledge in this area. All I can do is reflect on my own experiences. Remember a c-section is an invasive procedure that can take a long time to recover from. It is certainly not an easy way out. Equally having a c-section does not mean you are a failure! Recovery for Mothers is often quicker who have had a natural birth. So please bear all of this in mind if contemplating a c-section.

My experience of an emergency C-section

While pregnant with my first child, there were concerns regarding his growth. This started off with worries of him being too small. It ended with me measuring weeks ahead of my date. So quite the opposite. The medical team were concerned I may have gestational diabetes. I didn’t!

At my final appointment with my consultant, he said I may have problems giving birth due to the size of my baby and my height. The baby may get stuck I was told. Not to worry, he reassured me! If the baby were to get stuck there may be shoulder dystocia. This was apparently nothing to worry about. He then proceeded to tell me he was due to be on leave and wished me the best with the delivery.

I googled shoulder dystocia when I got home, and it definitely was something to worry about! During the week before my due date I was terrified. My due date came and went, and a week later, there was still no sign of my baby. 10 days after my due date and several sweeps later, I was admitted for an induction.

In hospital

The induction process

Several women were admitted to the ward at the same time to be induced. ‘You’re going to be having a big baby!’ were the words the first midwife told me. Reassuring when you are about to embark on pushing it through your vagina! The initial part of the induction process involved another sweep and a pessary inserted into the vagina to help the cervix dilate.

After an examination by a midwife, I was told I was already 1cm dilated and so didn’t need the pessary. The sweep should get everything going, she told me. As daylight turned to evening several of the ladies around me got moved to the labour ward, while nothing was happening for me. This was so disheartening. A fresh batch of ladies were bought in while I was still waiting for something to happen.

Eventually after another examination, they realised I wasn’t dilated at all. So the pessary was inserted! Then I had the worry of it falling out, casting a careful eye down the toilet every time I went for a wee. The next morning they broke my waters to speed things along. The contractions began a while after.

After getting to 4cm dilated they moved me to the labour ward. I was getting one step closer, but there wasn’t any reassurance that my baby wasn’t going to get stuck. I work in healthcare, so I know it’s impossible to make these promises, but I was really frightened for myself and my baby.

Later that evening

There was no further progress and my baby started to become distressed. I was told my baby was struggling to engage his head. I was consented for a c-section and off I went to theatre. It was approaching midnight by this time. I was shown into the operating theatre. It was time for the spinal block. I was nervous about this part, but was glad I was going to be awake during the procedure. Having a needle injected into your spine whilst having contractions was not my idea of fun. Especially whilst trying to hunch over with a humongous bump!

If you have never had a spinal block it’s a very interesting experience. The team asked me to wiggle my toes, I was adamant I was, and they were adamant I wasn’t! It was working. The anaesthetist was really lovely and put me at ease. He chatted away and kept me distracted as much as possible. The surgeon was in the corner getting ready, he walked over, did not introduce himself and set about getting my baby out. During the procedure he did not say a word to me, before, during or after. The table was angled so that the surgeon could sit down during the procedure. I spent the first 5 minutes thinking I was going to slide off.

In the theatre

Once the spinal block has taken effect a catheter is put in. This is usually removed the same day as the procedure. As the c-section began I started shaking uncontrollably. It was so bad I could see the blue sheet hanging to cover my tummy shaking too. It was not until a google search later I realised this was a side effect of the spinal block. During the procedure I felt no pain at all, I could feel a sensation like someone pushing on my stomach. It took around half an hour. I had my gorgeous baby boy at the end of it! The sensation came back to my legs after a few hours. I was out of bed later that day.

After the c-section

I vaguely remember heading out of the theatre on a hospital bed. My son was being pushed alongside my bed in a cot. At some point I must have fallen asleep, it was 00:31 when my son was born and I hadn’t really slept in 2 days.

I remember waking to a sensation of warmth all over my body. Then realised one of the nurses was giving me a bed bath! I was being rolled back and forth by this woman single handedly, yet she was so gentle.

I was able to get out of bed pretty quickly after the section. However, our son had an infection and so the pair of us were kept in the hospital. I remember it was roasting hot! There were fans dotted everywhere yet I was terrified of the baby overheating.

After emergency c-section

The recovery

I was lucky that my scar healed very well, in fact my recovery was straight forward all together. Two weeks after the birth I was at a festival. There was no camping though! We had a cottage nearby, and I avoided the hot tub with my scar still being so fresh.

Although I healed physically well from the procedure, I felt like a failure for a while. I felt other Mums would judge if they had experienced a natural birth. It felt as though I couldn’t do something women were supposed to be able to do.

My marriage had begun failing towards the end of my pregnancy. This combined with hormonal changes made me feel very sensitive. I was terrified of being diagnosed with post-natal depression (PND). When the health visitor came I tried to second guess all my answers. On reflection now, I know if I would have had PND they would have picked it up. I also know there are many who are diagnosed with PND and it is not anything to be ashamed of. Looking after your well-being is an important part of post-natal care.

All in all my experience of an emergency c-section was positive. I healed well physically. I did struggle with feelings of failure, but I was relieved I had a c-section. Ultimately both myself and baby were safe and that was the most important thing to me.

My experience of a planned C-section

Trigger warning for this part of the article, my planned c-section did not go as well as the emergency one I had previously. I am not telling this part of my story with the intention of scaring anyone. My son was delivered safely, but the care I received afterwards was not great. Every person and their experiences are different, so please do not let this story deter you from a c-section as my emergency one was a breeze!

9 months after having my first child, I found myself pregnant again! Baby number 2 was measuring off the charts for length and weight. At one point my bump was measuring 6 weeks ahead. I was tested for gestational diabetes twice in this pregnancy. However, it was just another big baby!

This time the team looking after me were more supportive. They booked me in for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) appointment. If you have had a c-section previously there is support available to avoid one in future pregnancies should you wish. During this appointment it was quickly agreed it would be best if I had a planned C-section.

Towards the end of my pregnancy my marriage completely fell apart so having a date booked in to have my C-section helped with planning childcare. This was a bonus to having a c-section. However having a c-section meant I would have an overnight stay in hospital. The first time I would have been apart from my 17 month old for the night.

The date was booked, and even though the baby was measuring big, they booked my section for 39+4. I just hoped I didn’t go into labour before that.

On the day

On the day I was first on the list. I arrived at the hospital with my Mum and got ready for surgery. I walked down to the theatre around 10am that day. As with any procedure that may require an anaesthetic I was not allowed to eat prior to it.

The team in the theatre was friendly. I can’t remember how many people were there, I would guess around 5 to 6. They asked if I minded if one of the junior doctors did my spinal block, I agreed. Everyone has to learn! It wasn’t a good experience, it took a couple of attempts, and she blamed me for moving. Having to lean forward with a huge bump is not easy. I think I was managing pretty well. It was definitely easier without contractions happening at the same time.

Eventually a more senior doctor took over, and the spinal block was in. I laid on the bed with my knees bent. It felt as though I was in that position the whole time, even though my legs were laid flat. It was quite surreal. The surgeon was lovely and she spoke to me throughout the procedure, as was the anaesthetist. I didn’t get the shakes this time luckily.

The procedure went well, my Mum cut the cord, my ‘whopper’ baby was a measly 9lb, and absolutely perfect. As with the emergency section I couldn’t feel any pain just pressure. It took around half an hour, the same time as my emergency one previously.

Planned c-section

Back on the ward

Back on the ward I had my bed bath, with 2 nurses this time. Unfortunately later on it was discovered they had pulled on my catheter and torn my bladder. This was obviously unintentional, but it meant I had to keep a catheter in for 2 days after my son was born. I lost so much blood I ended up anaemic. Later that day I also experienced severe itchiness all over afterwards, especially on my nose. The staff told me this was a side effect of the spinal block.

Those couple of days were not great as my Mum was at home looking after my eldest son and I had no visitors. There were not enough staff on the ward to help me. I was advised not to leave my bed due to the catheter. However, with little help from staff on the ward I had no choice but to get out of bed to care for my son properly.

As I wasn’t supposed to be getting out of bed, I was unable to shower and remove my dressing as advised. After my first section I had to leave the dressing on for 5 days. This time I was told I had to take it off the same day, which terrified me. I know I had been stitched back together but the dressing felt like extra security. I didn’t trust anyone to watch my baby. As soon as I was able to, I wheeled him into the bathroom with me while I had a shower.

The recovery

After a couple of days my bladder had stopped bleeding and my anaemia was getting better. This meant I could go home but had to continue with the iron tablets. I was visited at home by the health visitors who checked my scar regularly. It still became infected though. It was painful for a while after, even after the antibiotics got rid of the infection. One thing I found helped was letting air get to the wound. After having 2 c-sections within 17 months, I had an overhang (still do!) and I had to lie on the bed and carefully lift it up to let the air get to it.

Around a month after my planned c-section, I developed a bladder infection so painful I could barely walk. I ended up needing 2 courses of antibiotics to help clear it. Thank goodness I was living back with my Mum so she could help with the kids. My GP felt it was due to the tear in my bladder that hadn’t healed yet.

My recovery took a lot longer than it did with my first c-section. Whether it was because I had 2 so close together I do not know. I also had issues with the scar and my bladder being infected which were setbacks. With a second child you are doubly busy managing your newborn and an older child. I feel all of this combined probably resulted in a slower recovery.

Out and about after a c-section

Any lasting effects?

As many Mothers who have had a c-section can tell you, your body is never the same afterwards! I have an overhang that I don’t think will ever disappear now. I also have numbness across the lower part of my tummy, I can feel absolutely nothing on a large section of it. Recently I realised there are ways to try and improve this and I am going to give them a try. Aside from those two things I have no lasting effects from my c-sections. I have 2 beautiful children who were delivered safely thanks to the medical teams involved.

My experience of a c-section was different both times. My overall feeling is that I would do each one over again to know my children would be born safely. Perhaps I would have taken it easier in those initial few weeks to help my recovery. Also I would not have been so hard on myself.

Tips for mothers who have had a c-section

I am by no means an expert when it comes to postnatal care, so please speak to a qualified healthcare professional about your own care. This article is just my experience of a c-section. Here is what helped me, and hopefully it can help you too.

  • When you are told it is safe to move around, be sure to do so. While on the ward I witnessed a woman in absolute agony because she refused to get out of bed after her c-section, the staff told her it was due to trapped wind.
  • Let your wound get some air. It is an important part of the healing process to let air get to the area. Try to spend a few minutes each day lying down making sure air can get to the wound properly.
  • Do your pelvic floor exercises! I remember thinking I didn’t need to do my pelvic floor exercises being as I hadn’t delivered vaginally. My health visitor politely reminded me I had been carrying a 10lb baby and amniotic fluid on those muscles. The pelvic floor muscles will have stretched. Without exercises there is a risk of bladder issues later in life.
  • Don’t overdo it! Remember you have had major surgery! Everyone heals at a different rate, listen to your body and try not to push yourself too hard. You are already dealing with a newborn, so make sure you allow yourself time to heal in those blurry first few weeks.
  • Stock up on pads, you will still bleed after giving birth, even after a c-section.

So that is my experience of a c-section. I would love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to share them in the comments below and help other Mums who may be about to have a c-section.

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  • 6 April 2024 at 2:41 pm

    I always wanted to know more about c- section. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • 6 April 2024 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Hope the article was helpful 😊

  • 6 April 2024 at 3:15 pm

    So few people talk about their birth experiences, this is so helpful! I’ve never had children but am hoping to try for kids soon and this has definitely helped give me an important perspective. Thank you for sharing!

    • 6 April 2024 at 4:35 pm

      Thank you, hope you get the experience you are after with childbirth when it happens, and hope this has reassured you 😊

  • 6 April 2024 at 3:34 pm

    Very helpful information for moms-to-be. Both my mom and sister had emergency c-sections. It’s helpful to hear from others what to expect in advance.

    • 6 April 2024 at 4:36 pm

      Glad you found this useful Debbie. I love reading about others experiences which is one of the reasons I share mine. Thanks for commenting

  • 6 April 2024 at 7:06 pm

    Very helpful info – especially to prepare moms planning (or have a possibility) for a c-section. The detail was useful and glad that you are speaking clearly about this. Thanks for the post.

  • 7 April 2024 at 2:20 am

    Wow that is quite a birth story! I’m so glad both you and baby are safe and sound.

    • 21 April 2024 at 8:36 am

      Thank you for reading 😊

  • 20 April 2024 at 4:56 pm

    Wow that’s a story to tell your kids later in life πŸ™‚ glad all is well

    • 21 April 2024 at 8:29 am

      Thank you, at the moment if it isn’t Fortnite they don’t want to know 🀣 Like you say maybe later in life they may be interested


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