Birth story by Annie, 11/05/2018
Right up until a few days before our second baby was born, my husband and I thought I’d be going into labour naturally. I’d had a 'challenging' time with natural labour with our first, and still had anxiety about it over three years later. Based on a growth scan and health concerns though, our specialist decided that I should have a so-called ‘elective’ c-section that week.
While the thought of having surgery so soon was a bit daunting, it seemed like such a relief not to risk a three-day labour and the resulting complications again. In the end, the experience couldn’t have been more different to our first.
It has actually allowed me to let go of a lot of the previous trauma and upset.
We arrived at the hospital around 7am and were shown to a small ward of other women awaiting sections. I wasn’t allowed to eat for 12 hours beforehand, so was relieved when I was told I was first up, just after 8am. They choose the order of surgeries on the day, based on potential complications and any emergencies that need priority. Some women wait for hours to find out there’s no more slots available, so we were lucky!
Scrubbed up nicely
My husband was given scrubs to wear, and we were taken into theatre where there were at least seven medics. We were told this is more than normal just so they could keep an eye on things.
The anaesthetist was really friendly, and he and my husband hooked up my iPhone to the speakers so my chosen music - Nat King Cole - could be played. This immediately changed the mood in the room, and everyone was cheery and relaxed. It made a huge difference to our experience!
I had to perch on the edge of the operating table while the anaesthetist sat behind me and numbed my back, before spraying something cold to test my reactions. It was really tickly and made me giggle.
I didn’t feel the needle from the epidural at all.
Once I was completely numb from the waist down, two nurses cleaned and shaved my pubic area, which to be honest I wasn’t expecting, but it made sense when I saw how low down my scar is: about half an inch below where my pubes start.
Since I was chatting away to the anaesthetist and my husband, the surgery itself seemed quick, and all I felt was a bit of jostling and tugging while the surgeons worked behind the cloth.
I wish there was more I could say about that but it really was over so quickly!
Meeting my baby
Around 20 minutes in, I heard a cry, but the surgeons were busy with my bleeding so I think they briefly left the baby on my legs while they dealt with more pressing matters. After what seemed like ages (I’m sure it wasn’t), the anaesthetist asked if they could lift him up so we could see him, and I got a first glimpse of our little boy - red and furious, with a puckered face like a steamed dumpling.
He was then whisked over to the resuscitaire for his vitamin K shot and a blood test. It was at least 15 minutes before he was finally brought over to me for a much-needed cuddle. I’d wanted to do skin-to-skin straight away but it obviously wasn’t convenient, so I had to be satisfied with them laying all 10lbs of him on my upper chest/neck while the surgeons worked to stitch me up.
He’d already been wiped down, so it was a bit different to the primal embrace after a natural birth (slime and blood included) but I was blissfully happy to have him with me.
Once they’d finished, my husband held our son as four people worked together to roll me onto a plastic board, then onto a recovery bed. If I was at all self-conscious this would have been embarrassing but I joked that I felt like a sausage roll, and laughed off the indignity.
I was wheeled down to Recovery for an hour, where I was able to feed the baby and have a drink, before heading over to the noisy maternity ward to join all the other new mums. The whole thing had been so organised and stress-free, I kept telling all the nurses and visitors how great it was.
For me, it was definitely the right method in terms of my mental health, as well as the safety of our big, special baby.
More information about having a c-section
Charley, 35, from Edinburgh was amazed when she found out she was pregnant in 2018. She’d been warned that pregnancy might be difficult for her as, a few years before, she’d had 3 procedures to remove abnormal cells from her cervix. After a worrying bleed at 10 weeks, Charley was referred to Tommy’s Lothian Preterm Birth Clinic at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. With access to specialist care and monitoring, Charley’s pregnancy progressed, and baby Tommy was born in May 2019.
"I spent a couple of weeks at home taking it very easy. Even a sneeze or a cough could be painful, so I didn’t do much other than take a few steps around the flat when I could."
Learn about the emotions you may experience after your c-section and how to cope with them, including depression and PTSD if it was an emergency c-section. Find out where you can get support.
Find out how long you should wait before exercising and the activities that are safe to do while recovering. Learn how pelvic floor and abdominal exercises can help.
Learn how being overweight can affect your chances of needing a c-section and how this affects your recovery afterwards.
Find out how you can help your partner recover after having a c-section, including tips from other dads.
Find out what you can do to establish breastfeeding after a c-section, including positions to make breastfeeding more comfortable
Advice on how to make a healthy recovery at home after a c-section. Find out how long it takes to recover and how to care for your wound.