I planned for a natural birth. I researched birth centres at local hospitals, meticulously. I practiced prenatal yoga, regularly. I selected soothing birth music, carefully.
Except for that my baby never turned. He remained in the upright position. He was breach. His head was against my ribs, and he wouldn’t budge.
Doctors suggested trying external version. They gave me an injection to relax my muscles, then grabbed the baby through my belly and tried to turn him. Two strong male doctors gave it a good try. He wouldn’t move an inch.
I didn’t give up. My playlist was ready, and the picture of giving a natural birth, in a pool full of warm water, with no medications or any other artificial help whatsoever simply wouldn’t leave my head. Speaking of my head, I read that headstands encourage babies to turn around, so I spent about 30 minutes every night up-side-down. The additional blood in my brain certainly didn’t help me sleep, and annoyingly also had no effect on my baby’s position.
I tried reflexology. I tried acupuncture. But he still wouldn’t give in. He was determined to come out legs first.
I was scheduled for a c-section, and while many mothers-to-be report feelings of failure when faced with the reality of a non-natural birth, I was determined not to give up. While continuing the headstands, I researched the option of giving birth to a breach baby. After all, the midwives from “Call the Midwife” made it look like it was no different than the head-first birth!
Except for (!) that the midwives and doctors of today don’t have any experience facilitating breach births, making any such attempt nearly a suicide mission. I was told.
I finally gave in after they promised that one c-section doesn’t prevent me from having a natural birth with any other baby. And surely the statistics would play in my favour with my second baby since only about 5% of them remain breach. At least those were my surgeon’s famous last words.
My second baby did turn. But my first c-section didn’t go as planned. Any next baby would need to be delivered via another c-section, my doctor told me as soon as they placed my first-born on my chest. Presumably so that the rush of love I experienced at that moment protected her from a punch into her face!
At least I didn’t have to bother with the headstands during the second pregnancy. Instead, I did even more research on products that make your life easier if your baby doesn’t want to come out the natural way.
Products that made my c-sections more bearable
This is a mini guide to what your hospital bag should include when you’re heading for, or ending up with a c-section – and that your “natural birth” bag wouldn’t already contain.
Knickers: you need special underwear to hug the area of your scar. These are not sexy, but they do make you feel more comfortable and secure, with the added benefit of making your belly look slimmer. My favourite are from Mothercare.
For healthy digestion
Probiotics: you will likely be on antibiotics after the birth. It is therefore super important to support your immune system with probiotics. I used OptiBac and recommend starting the course a few days before your (scheduled) delivery.
Peppermint: unfortunately you will have trapped air in your belly after the surgery. I found this pain really hard to manage and would do everything to minimise it. Peppermint does wonders – try these peppermint capsules from Lindens and drink a lot of peppermint tea.
Fybogel fiber supplement: constipation, I’m afraid, is also unavoidable with a caesarean, and Fybogel hi-fibre saved me. I suggest taking them as soon as you can start eating post birth. Don’t wait until you get constipated. (It’s really hard and painful to push with a wound.)
For pain / healing
Arnica: is known to help with any wound healing. I used Nelsons Arnicare.
Painkillers: you should take as much as they will suggest in the hospital. Don’t try to be brave and take less. In order to heal faster, it’s really important to move around a lot and you’ll be much more mobile (and happier!) with painkillers. For after the hospital discharge, they normally suggest a combination of over-the-counter Ibuprufen and Paracetamol.
For the scar
Both Argan oil and Rosehip oil are supposed to be very good for scar treatment. I found Argan has a better texture for the scar area. I recommend massaging your lower belly before the surgery already so that your skin is better prepared. And you can start using it again after the surgery as soon as the wound is closed. I used Artnaturals.
Silicon: finally, I used silicon sheets from ScarAway. I was really sceptical about these, but they do work very nicely.
Good luck with your c-section and let us know your favourite products and other coping mechanisms that helped you through the journey!
PS: You may need more help after birth if you end up with a c-section. A night nanny or maternity nurse could provide invaluable support during the recovery time.