Cesarean Awareness: From Mother to Mother

In the last 20 years, the cesarean (c-section) birth rate in the UK has risen by around 50% from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 births , although only a small percentage of these are elective and planned. This month is cesarean awareness month so we have spoken to one of our Storksak mama’s Sherina about her experience giving birth via c-section and any advice she has for other mum-to-be's on how to be prepared with your birthing options. 

Tell us a little bit about your job and being a mum…

Hi, I’m Sherina. A Senior Designer & Creative Marketer at Storksak, and mum to a very energetic (almost) 3 year old, who keeps me on my toes most days! Thankfully he is a good sleeper so I have some down time in the evenings which helps a lot with feeling less overwhelmed on busy days. I think we talk a lot about work/life balance and how to achieve it, but I don't think there is a magic formula, or at least I haven't found it yet. I find taking some time out, even if it's 10 minutes here or there shifts your mind set and refocuses you, something we should all try and do when we have the opportunity.

Let’s dive in, what was your ‘ideal’ birth plan?

Like a lot of people, I was apprehensive about giving birth, but after researching hypnobirthing and completing a NCT course, I decided the best place for me would be a maternity ward, with as little intervention as possible. But life has a way of throwing a curveball and I ended up having a non elective cesarean.

Talk us through your birthing experience?

Surprisingly as this was my first baby, I was really relaxed when my waters broke and even after I was told at the hospital check that my baby was breech. I think this was due to the prior research and the doctors talking through the pros and cons of the birthing options I had with a breech baby. I really appreciated that I was still given a choice whether to go ahead with a VA birth or a C-section. After weighing up both options we decided a C-section would be a safer choice for me. 

 I think a misconception is that a cesarean is all chaos and of course for some, if it is an emergency there may be a level of urgency. But even though this was not the zen hypnobirthing labour I dreamt of, I was still able to deliver my baby into a calm atmosphere along side my partner. The doctors had music playing and everyone was reassuring and explained everything before it happened.

Can you tell us a little bit about the recovery process and how it works?

Recovery for everyone is different. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body, take your time and don't push yourself too much. Having a cesarean is major surgery which can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal, so making sure you rest, don't do any heavy lifting, driving, bending, or put strain on the stitches is important. All of this is easier said than done with a newborn. But if you are able to do simple things like asking someone to hand you the baby instead of bending to pick them up. Rolling onto your side and gently pushing yourself up to a sitting position instead of trying to sit straight up from laying down, and holding your stitches if you need to cough or sneeze will help to speed up the process.

Also make sure to ask your midwife what medications you can take, or creams you can apply to your stitches to help alleviate any discomfort. Don't be afraid to ask questions or tell your doctor/midwife if you feel anything is not right. They are there to help you and will not mind taking the time to make sure you are ok and healing well.

How much knowledge did you feel you had about a c-section before going into labour?

Taking an NCT class definitely boosted my confidence about all types of birth and the options that are available. So I knew quite a lot about cesarean, why you may have one, the process and recovery. 

Do you think it’s important for parents to be to be aware of how a c-section works before the time of birth?

Definitely! Knowledge is power. Having access to information which you can go through at your own pace takes the fear out of an unknown situation. Especially during labour, when things can happen quite quickly and it can be hard to take in lots of information at once with everything going on.

How clued up was your partner of how a cesarean worked before birth?

We took the NCT class together, so we were on the same page and had all of the same information. We also discussed my birth plan so he knew my wishes ahead of labour so it made it quite easy for us to communicate on this. I do think this is important, if you're unable to attend NCT classes together the make sure to share all information together so you always have the same knowledge and advice.

Is there anything you wish you had been told beforehand?

Be prepared to stay in for an extra day or more, as even if everything goes well with the C-section, and both you and your baby are healthy and there are no concerns, you may need to be monitored. 

Is there any advice you would give to a mum who is researching different birthing methods?

Yes, keep your mind and options open to all types of birth and think about your preferences for each option so you are prepared if you have to go with another type of birth.