I want to write about the recovery from a caesarean – which is hard and, in most cases, longer than recovery from a vaginal birth because I hadn’t remembered what it was like from last time and because I want you to know that it is not An Easy Option.
After Wilbur was born we were taken to a recovery ward for a couple of hours. The midwife here was absolutely wonderful. She helped us with breastfeeding and was incredibly attentive and kind. The care we had in theatre and recovery was outstanding. I really don’t think it could have been better.
We were then taken to the post natal ward. When Joni was born my experience of post natal care was terrifying. We were at a different hospital this time though, and I was optimistic that anything had to be better than last time.
I have a real passion for improvements in postnatal care in hospitals. I truly believe that something can be done to improve the care that women receive, especially on the first night with their new baby. I am doing the ground work at the moment for a project that I believe will improve the care for these women. More on that another day.
I think it was easier to cope this time around because Wilbs is my second baby, I knew what I was doing, and also because I hadn’t been through a gruelling 30 hour labour before my operation.
Recovering from a caesarean isn’t easy. It’s not easy to care for a new born baby, on your own, when you can’t use your legs and you’re pumped full of strong pain killers because you’ve had abdominal surgery. I had a horrible reaction to some of the anaesthetic – my whole body was so itchy that I wanted to rip my skin off. I was told that I could have some piriton. The midwife went to get it. No one appeared. This was at the evening drug round at midnight. I didn’t get any until 10am the next day, by which time I had scratched my tummy until it had bled and was really annoyed! The midwife on the new shift was very apologetic and wrote so in my notes. In fact, despite pressing the call bell I didn’t see anyone for at least 6 hours in that first night. I was annoyed and wanted to go home. If this had been my first baby I think I would have been scared.
The breastfeeding support was not great. It was clear that staff were Doing Their Best but this only served to make it crystal clear that there were not enough staff. More on that another time. We got home after 48 hours, which was a win in my book.
Wilbur was a little jaundice and so was very sleepy. At the hospital they weigh babies at birth, day 3 and day 10. This caused us a few problems. Wilbur lost weight after birth, and I think continued to lose weight up until around day 7. A weigh in on day 5 would have, in my suspicion, had alarming results. He was incredibly sleepy and not a very energetic feeder. So at day 10 I was told that he had to be putting on weight … in the next 24 hours … or else. I was very worried. I had been exclusively breastfeeding and was definitely doing my best by feeding him on demand.
So, after a teary phone call, I got some help from the breastfeeding clinic at the hospital where my Mum works. This was excellent. I truly believe that breastfeeding is really hard, if not impossible, without the right support. Some tweaks to my technique and a lot of confidence boosting praise later and we were set to get Wilbur putting on weight. He then fed, continuously, for 5 days. He’s now put on weight and is above his birth weight. Major phew.
In retrospect I think (with no medical knowledge and only my own experience) that our feeding issues were directly related to having an elective caesarean. My milk didn’t come in properly until day 5 or 6 (due to delayed release of oxytocin because no labour?!), I couldn’t hold him comfortably due to my wound and he was very snuffly because all that mucus wasn’t shoved out of his lungs en route through the birth canal. We did over come it though and feeding has got easier and better now he’s 3 weeks old.
Recovery from a c-section with a toddler at home has been hard. My wound still hurts, walking isn’t easy and I am dreading having to lift Joni anywhere in the next few weeks.
It doesn’t help that this week I’ve had a cold and Joni has had a tummy bug … But we’re surviving (thanks to loads of family to help).
Making the choice to have a c-section was still the right one for us – but I have to admit that the recovery has been harder than I thought it would be.
Thankfully to countenance all the tears (me and joni) there was lots of tolerance and kindness (Chris and Wilbur – who was kind enough to sleep through all of Joni’s vomiting in the car episodes this week, thanks tummy bug).