If you are thinking of having a cesarian birth because you feel it is the easy way out, don't, because it isn't. Having gone through a Cesarean, I now understand why people still opt for natural birth despite all the horror story you hear.
I definitely think there are pros and cons for both, and here is my personal experience and why I decided to go for Cesarean birth.
My reason behind a Cesarean birth
I opt for a Cesarean birth for two reasons. One, it is safer for the baby. Due to my miscarriage experience, I was so worried that something was going to go wrong during birth. When I had my miscarriage 4 years ago, I have zero symptoms that the pregnancy wasn't going according to plan. I had no cramps, no bleeding, and I still felt nausea and other pregnancy symptoms even after the baby had stopped growing. There are some women (even though it is rare) that your body does not know how to eject a fetus that is no longer growing. Unfortunately, I am one of those rare cases, not only does my body did not know how to give me a signal that the fetus was no longer growing, it didn't know how to eject it. I had to go to the hospital to take medication to help it pass out. Of course, the doctor said this might not happen again, but there is also a chance that it can.
There have been cases where the mother had internal bleeding, but because their body didn't know how to bleed out, the baby suffocated in the womb, and I CANNOT let that happen. I am not sure I would be able to survive from that if that happened to me. So I wasn't going to risk it, even if there is only a 1% chance. I had carried this child to the end, and this baby is going to come out alive and healthy even if it kills me. (I actually made my husband promise me, if it were between saving the baby or me at the end of the day, he would save the baby.)
Reason number two is practical and out of personal fear. One of my biggest anxiety is going into an emergency C-section. Not only do you have to go through the pain twice, but it is incredibly expensive if you go down the private hospital route. If I were going to do natural, I would probably have picked a public hospital. Not only do they have better emergency response, but it won't cost you twice as much as you have budgeted for.
My birth story
When it comes to birth story, I will say I have been pretty lucky and had a smooth sailing one. I wasn't scared, worried, or anxious, because I had an excellent team of doctors and nurses who took great care of me.
I love my OBGYN, she is friendly and professional, and like most decisions I make in life, she gave me a great vibe. I still remember the first time I met her and I knew she is the doctor I wanted to go with to give birth.
The team she has picked to do the Cesarean was amazing. The anesthetist was very professional and reassuring. He made me feel very calm and relaxed, as he explained to me how I would be feeling every step of the way. So even when I started feeling that numbness slowly going down my legs and lower part of the body, I wasn't worried or scared at all. He kept reassuring me that everything was fine, and what I was feeling was perfectly normal. He warned me that I might feel nausea or headache if so I should let him know so he can give me medication to help with these symptoms.
The preparation took a while, I remember I kept asking when my husband was allowed to come in, as I wanted him close by to distract me and to give me emotional support. When he was finally allowed in, I was kind of out of it already. I was awake but definitely, feel a bit drugged up. The good thing about Cesarean is that is it fast and you know it will be over about in about an hour and a half to two hours max. I wouldn't say the birth is painless, as they still need to push the baby out of you, but at least it is quick. I think the pushing part took around 15 - 20 minutes, even though it felt like an hour. I just remember asking my husband to keep talking to me so I don't have to think about it, as I can barely speak as my lungs are being squashed as they were pushing the baby out. I had bruising under my ribs from the pushing, but thankfully, it recovered quite quickly.
When the baby was out, the room was silent, it felt like the longest silent ever, no one was speaking, and the baby wasn't crying. Both my husband and I was anxious that something went wrong. I just kept asking, how is the baby? Is he alright? I only managed to relax when I heard him cry. Tears of relief and happiness streamed down my face as I know that my baby boy is alright. My husband was then asked to cut the cord, and they quickly brought over the baby for us to have a quick picture and a little kiss. Right after the baby was whisked away to be cleaned up, and my husband was asked to go with him.
After they both left and I was left behind to be sewn back up, it did feel a bit lonely. I tried not to think about it and tried to fall asleep. The anesthetist kept talking and reassuring me as I drifted off. After birth, everything was a bit of a blur, I was pretty out of it by the time they wheeled me out of the operation room. I remember seeing my husband and my mum before they wheeled me back to the room and being transferred back to my bed. The next thing I remember was when the nurse brought the baby back in the room for a quick skin to skin contact before they took him away again.
24 hours after the surgery, I had to get out of bed. I was really dreading this part to be honest, as my friend told me how painful it was for them to get up and out of bed - surprisingly, it wasn't that bad for me. Granted I was on heavy pain killers, I had a waistband around my scar to give it extra support and my legs felt like jelly when I first started to walk, but the pain was bearable, and I was able to stroll with assistance.
I was encouraged to walk more by my doctor and nursing, as they told me, the more I walk and move around, the quicker I will recover. So I did try to get out of bed and walk more when I can.
By the second day, I was already able to get in and out of bed by myself without assistance. I was able to walk around by myself provided that I was holding onto the rail or leaning on the wall. It was pretty good, considering the mummy in the same room as I couldn't really walk until the third day.
By the time I was discharged from the hospital, I was able to walk around myself. The scar still hurt, but with the waistband still on, it did make a difference. I found that with it on, I was able to lift myself up out of bed with minimal assistance. The only annoying thing about the waistband is that I do need someone to help me in and out of it. So shower time became a bit of chore for both my husband and me. I always had to wait until my husband is free to release me and strap me back in before and after the shower. We also had to keep coming up with creative ways to waterproof the scar area, even though I already had a waterproof bandaid on, the doctor did say if you are worried about water seeping in, you can wrap cling film around it. FYI, that doesn't work! I tried just using cling film only, cling film with masking tape, cling film with medical tape, I was so close to using cling film and duck tape at one point. None of them can 100% keep the water out, but the best one was definitely the cling film with medical tape.
When I went in for my checkup a week after the surgery, and I was allowed to take off the waistband and the bandaid, I was so happy. At least my schedule is slightly bit more flexible, and I don't need assistance from my husband just to have a shower.
The term "Too posh to push" has been used to describe a Cesarean birth and now I understand why. As the recovery time is much longer (generally for full recovery is around 3 months, sometimes even longer), you need a lot of assistance during the time of your recovery, as the best medicine is rest. I can definitely tell when I am over exhausted because my scar will start hurting more. When I am well rested, my scar hurts less.
Things to be aware of
Another reason why I was so calm about the surgery was that so many of my friends have shared their experience with me, both good and bad. So I was very mentally prepared for what was going to happen. The numbness I was going to feel, the pushing they will have to do to get the baby out, the long recovery time, etc.
The only thing I didn't realise or was prepared for was the water retention in my legs after birth. They were the size of tree trunks at one point, and I cannot even see my ankles. The reason why cesarean mothers are more prone to have water retention in their legs is because half your body was under anesthesia and you just had a big operation, so it takes some time for your body to recover. Not only was it unpleasant to look at, but my legs felt so heavy that it really drained my energy. All I wanted to do was to put my legs up and rest. What really helped was reducing your salt intake and getting a massage to help release the water retention. After eating bland food for about a week and a half and two massage sessions later, my legs were back to normal.
Just be mentally prepared that after surgery, you are only functioning as half a person - if that. You can't bend down, lift heavy things and have to move around very slowly, so pretty much what you were doing throughout your third trimester. What I found really help with the pain was whenever I get up and down just gently press down on the wound, so I have that extra support.
Prep your spouse or partner beforehand - this is essential. I had to mentally prepare my husband that I would be pretty useless for the 2 weeks after birth. In his sleep-deprived state, he sometimes forgets, so I had to keep reminding him that I am moving a bit slower, and I just need extra assistance. He was amazing, but every now and then I had to remind him as he is not used to pulling most of the weight around the house.
I don't regret having a cesarean as I know that was the right choice for me. If I weren't so worried about complication during natural birth, I would probably have opted for natural, as your recovery time is much faster. From my friends' experiences, they told me it is only about a week, which is much faster than 3 months.
My best advice about having a cesarean is, make sure you have enough help after birth. If you have a confinement lady, helper, or a very hands-on mother or husband get all the help you need, as you really do need the rest, and the more rest, the quicker you will recover. Talking about the topic of rest, I will leave you here now so I can take my nap before I have to feed the baby again.
Sending you love & positive thoughts,