Tips for a Cesarean Birth

April is Cesarean Awareness Month and the goal is to raise awareness and educate people about cesareans. I was fortunate that I had a positive experience with my own planned cesarean of a 9.9 pound breech baby but so many women struggle with the mental and psychical trauma of having major surgery, especially if it was an emergency cesarean.

Even more so, women are typically told that if they had a cesarean, they will have to have one next time. According to ICAN – recent studies have shown that there was an over 80% success rate for VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean)! My OBGYN said that it was entirely possible for me to have a VBAC next time if that is what I wanted but confessed that most of the smaller hospitals tend to pressure women into having a cesarean because of the perceived risk.

In it’s 1985 recommendations, The World Health Organization recommended that the highest optimal rate of cesareans is 10-15% of births; the United States current rate is over 30%!

If you have to have a cesarean birth, here are a few tips for you.

  1. Own your birth. I had planned a vaginal birth from the very beginning. Having a c-section never crossed my mind. So many cesareans are unplanned which I feel leads to the risk of physical and mental trauma for the mother. Even if you are 100% confident that you will have a vaginal birth, take some time to research cesareans – read a couple of birth stories, look up some of the recovery information. That way if it turns out that you do need one, you may feel a bit more prepared for it instead of having everything thrown on you at once.
  2. Explore Gentle Cesarean Options. Many hospitals are moving towards gentle cesareans – an option that is more mom and family centered. Some of the things you can do is:
    1. Request skin-to-skin while in the operating room and have the attendant help you initiate breastfeeding right there. This is key. On top of this, see if your baby can stay with you while your incision is being closed up. I was separated from Caleb for about 10 minutes right at the end (when they had to move me) but my partner went with Caleb to the recovery room where my mom was waiting to see him. It can be traumatizing for so many women to have their baby just taken from them as soon as he is out of their body and I was blessed to have such a nurturing staff.
    2. See if pictures can be taken in the operating room – they may not allow an additional photographer in there but we were allowed to use a cell phone and one of the attendants even took our first family photo while they closed me up!
    3. Ask if the hospital would still practice delayed cord clamping and see if your partner could cut the cord again. Typically the doctor will cut it during a cesarean but did offer the opportunity for my partner to trim it afterward (I think he declined).
    4. Check to see if your doula can be in the operating room with you. Even though your partner will typically be in the operating room with you, chances are that he will be so overwhelmed that it will help to have someone to attend to your needs and keep you calm.
  3. Get moving! The next day after my cesarean, I started getting out of bed. Sure, I would only take about 5 steps but I was doing something (even better, I only needed help once getting to the bathroom)! As soon as you can, start moving your toes and your legs. Moving will help prevent blood clots, get your bowels moving, and help eliminate the gas buildup. Just don’t overdo it!
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Moms deserve to taken care of during the postpartum period by family, friends, or by postpartum doulas. Don’t worry about sounding weak. If you are in need of something, make it known!

Over all – give yourself time to heal and enjoy your new baby.

Did you have to have a cesarean?

5 Essentials for the Breastfeeding Mom

Breastfeeding can be hard for so many women, myself included. I still have days where it hurts or I just feel drained, literally. Typically those days come after a long night and in my hurry to get Caleb back to sleep, I don’t take the time to make sure that he is properly latched. On those days, I find myself switching out one of Caleb’s normal feedings with a bottle of formula just to give myself a break.

Those days are thankfully fewer and fewer now that I realize how to correct that issue. Overall, I believe that breast is best but when it comes down to it, I’d rather make sure that Caleb isn’t going hungry.

My biggest piece of advice to you as a breastfeeding mom (or mom-to-be) is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. If you find yourself having a difficult time breastfeeding and are in pain constantly when you nurse, don’t be afraid to speak with a lactation consultant in your area.

These are some of the products that have saved my sanity when it comes to breastfeeding.

Kindle E-Reader with Built-in Light – When you’re breastfeeding, there really isn’t much else you can do at that moment (unless you have a sling or a carrier and then it’s game on). My Kindle has been a lifesaver, especially at night when Caleb needs to be fed and I don’t want to cut any lights on. It’s easy to control a Kindle with one hand and it allows my brain to relax/focus on something else for a bit. I’m currently working my way through Sweet Sleep: Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family which was recommended to me by Robb’s cousin.

Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner – The Boppy pillow was one of the first items that I added to my baby registry. I didn’t use it as much as I thought that I would the first week or so but I’ve been using it more and more lately. It helps me put Caleb in the perfect position to feed. It also gives my arms a break from holding him and Caleb likes to rest in his Boppy pillow.

Milk Drunk – Chocolate Protein Powder for Breastfeeding – This is a delicious protein powder for smoothies filled with lactation-boosting ingredients such as fenugreek, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and oat flour. Bonus – it’s vegan! I also recommend Mother’s Milk Tea by Traditional Medicinals as well for lactation support. I’ve used both to help boost my milk supply. I still haven’t managed to have enough extra milk to start storing some for when I go back to work but that’ll be my goal for February.

Nursing Bra – I’m not going to lie, I didn’t see the need for a nursing bra until I actually purchased one for myself. When I’m at home, I don’t bother with a bra unless I feel that I am needing the compression support. But I’ve found that with a nursing bra, I can wear it out in public for just in case or wear it around the house and it leaves me feeling a little less exposed to the elements. With the temperature in the house around 65°, that’s a pretty nice feeling to have.

Medela Tender Care Lanolin Tube – There are dozens of nipple creams out there for your tender bits and I recommend that you have something to keep your nipples from being chapped. I’ve been using Medela’s because I have received so many samples of it (nearly time I went to the doctor, I received more samples). Medela lanolin (lanolin is wool wax) is a thick, almost salve-like consistency that provides  soothing relief. I’ve also developed my own nipple butter that I will transition to once I’m all out of Medela lanolin (coming soon to my Etsy shop).

Did you have any issues breastfeeding?