“Is this what labor feels like?” As a first time mother, this is how my birth story started. Even though the baby was supposed to come via scheduled cesarean for medical reasons, we had pushed the scheduled date to the last possible minute. In the days leading up to the Monday delivery day, I had this feeling we wouldn’t quite make it. By the Saturday morning before the scheduled date, I was pretty sure that I was in early labor, but I honestly found it hard to tell for sure. I eventually called the obstetrician. She said to rest, hydrate, and monitor. A few hours later she called back to check in and offered the same suggestion.
That night, my husband and I went to sleep, ready to call it a day. Well, my husband went to sleep. I lay there, timing what I thought were starting to feel like contractions. Around 1 a.m. I worked up the nerve to call the obstetrician again, saying, “I am so sorry to call you, but I think I’m having regular contractions every five minutes now.” Off to the hospital we went.
Sure enough I was having contractions—pretty strong ones—every few minutes. Suddenly my Monday cesarean was a Sunday cesarean. This baby was coming! My obsession with sticking to the planned schedule flew out the window and was replaced with excitement to meet our little baby. I also remember feeling relieved and happy that labor had started naturally. Even though I wasn’t delivering vaginally, I still was able to experience what labor felt like with no pain medication, and this meant that the baby was coming when she was ready.
The surgery itself went very smoothly. I had wanted my arms to be free from the restraints, but I started shivering pretty violently and ended up requesting extra help holding my arms down. It didn’t matter, though, because the second I heard my baby’s first cry, touched her skin, and held her on the operating table (with help from my husband and a nurse) I didn’t care where I was, how I had delivered, or how I felt. It was the most beautiful moment I had ever experienced.
Immediately following delivery I was able to go to a private recovery room with my baby (something I had been extremely adamant about), where we nursed for the first time about 20 minutes after the cesarean birth. I had been nervous about this moment, overwhelmed with information about techniques, tips, and stories of babies not latching, but I was able to relax and thankfully she latched on right away.
In the hours, days, and weeks that followed, things continued to go very well. I’m thankful for a happy baby, grateful for the ability to be able to breastfeed, and fortunate to work from home so that I will be able to continue breastfeeding even after maternity leave. Thanks to planning and discussions with the obstetrician beforehand, my worries about the cesarean affecting our early bonding and breastfeeding proved to be non-issues. I had also been concerned about being able to breastfeed during a painful recovery, but thanks to a helping hand from my husband and relatively mild pain medication, that was a not a problem.
I think it’s important to realize that cesarean births can be healthy, beautiful, pro-breastfeeding birth stories. I hope that my story provides encouragement and peace of mind in what can be a very scary and stressful situation.