What is a “Normal” birth anyway?
C-Sections ARE normal birth!! As a labour & Delivery nurse, I HATE it when people say, “oh, she had a normal birth”. There is nothing more frustrating. Vaginal deliveries and c-sections are all “normal” births.
Childbirth is unpredictable and there are many factors at play:
– the size and position of your baby
– the size of your pelvis
– underlying health issues (diabetes and blood pressure issues, for example)
– previous delivery experiences
– length of your labour (long labours, stress, sleep deprivation all affect the hormone cascade and reduce coping abilities and labour progress)
– the goals of the birthing person
When it comes to c-sections, many things are true, and some of those things may seem contradictory:
– They can be planned;
– They can be unplanned and done in emergent circumstances.
– Some people choose to have a c-section due to anxiety around vaginal birth;
– Some people experience birth trauma as a result of having a c-section.
– C-Section recovery is generally more difficult than vaginal delivery recovery;
– C-section recovery may be easier for some (esp. in cases of previous 3rd or 4th degree tears during vaginal birth)
– Some C-sections are deemed “unnecessary” (by either the patient or the doctor);
– Some C-sections have saved lives
-EVERYONE deserves to make an INFORMED DECISION about their care!
-No one should be made to feel shame or failure because they had a c-section (hence my point above about saying ignorant shit: people love to shame new parents)
I talk ALL about c-section delivery in my Childbirth Preparation online class (along with MANY other topics). If you like to be informed and prepared for a variety of potential events during your labour and birth, my 4-hour course is a must!
Birth Preparation Class
Whether you have a planned c-section or an emergent one, there are some things you can advocate for. There are circumstances in which your wishes cannot be fulfilled, due to emergencies, or health and safety concerns. However, you should always freely communicate your wishes to your birthing team!
– skin to skin time with your baby: yes, in many instances it IS possible to have your baby skin to skin with you, even while the surgery is still taking place! If this is not possible, your partner can also place the baby skin to skin.
– Delayed cord clamping: if the baby is not requiring immediate resuscitative efforts, a 60sec delay between birth and clamping the cord is possible.
– hand expression and/or latching as soon as possible: I have seen babies latch onto the breast while skin to skin with their mothers during the surgery. Usually, though, successful feeding is more attainable in the recovery room afterwards.
For the first 6-8 weeks post-c-section, allow yourself as much rest as possible and utilize your support people. It really DOES take a village, and your priority during the recovery period is to feed and bond with your baby, rest, and protect your physical and mental health.
What to do:
– Get up and move as soon as possible after your c-section. Short periods of low intensity movement will help prevent blood clots and get your GI tract moving
– Drink fluids, take stool softeners, eat nutritious fiber-rich foods: the first bowel movement after your surgery can be a nerve-wracking event
– Pain management: Do not let pain become excruciating before accepting pain medication. Managing pain appropriately is an important part of healing, and allows you to best provide care for your baby.
– At home: rest and avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for at least 2 weeks (yes, that means avoid lifting your baby while in their car seat- help will be necessary for doctor’s appointments and outings!)
– Support your incision with a belly wrap or pillow when getting in and out of bed or chairs, coughing, or other movement can help provide stability and some comfort.
What to watch for:
– Bleeding: You will have vaginal bleeding after a c-section, just as you would after a vaginal birth. Notify your care provider or visit and urgent care centre or Emergency Room if you are saturating pads within 1h or less, or if you notice continuous bright red bleeding from your incision and through your dressing.
– Infection: pain, intense itching, redness, swelling, and heat on or around your incision could be a sign of infection. Antibiotics are necessary and you must notify your care provider as soon as possible.
– Uneven leg pain and swelling can be a sign of a DVT (deep venous thrombosis). Shortness of breath may be a sign that a clot is travelling to your lungs. Go to the Emergency Room right away if experiencing these.
If something doesn’t feel right, do not hesitate to seek further assessment and treatment.
Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada: C-Section info
Support during and after birth
Every postpartum parent deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and care. While many factors in childbirth are beyond our control, informed consent should always be practiced. Some emergencies require haste action and do not allow for full informed consent at the time of delivery. However, your care providers should debrief with you afterward, discuss interventions and why they were necessary. Being whisked into the OR is traumatic, and information is crucial. Being able to discuss the event with your doctor, midwife and nurses is so important.
– Ongoing support after birth is equally important. Having a counsellor, or psychologist to talk to during your postpartum phase (and any other time, let’s be real) is incredibly therapeutic and can help decrease perinatal mood disorders, such as postpartum depression. It can also help identify when further mental health treatment, such as medication, is necessary. Our system doesn’t allow for frequent postpartum doctor’s visits and many parents “slip through the cracks” and suffer in silence.
– In-home support by a friend, family member, or post-partum doula: help with making meals, cleaning up, watching the baby while you nap can give you just the break you need in order to start recovery. It really does take a village, you shouldn’t have to do it on your own
In-home infant feeding support:
Let’s face it: most of your time will be spent feeding the baby. Infant feeding difficulties are strongly linked with perinatal mood disorders, and timely in-home help can give you the skills and confidence to overcome any obstacles.
I offer in-home infant feeding consultations in and around the Edmonton area. My home visits last approx. 90min-2h, and come with unlimited text and email support from me for the entire duration of your infant feeding journey!
Email me at sheena.milkbudlactation.ca to learn more about how I can help!
Featured Image by Regina Burganova via Canva Pro