Every girl has thought of her dream wedding probably since the age of eight – what her dress would look like, where the wedding reception will be held, the colour theme, etc. Strangely enough, I never imagined my perfect wedding; instead I have always envisioned my dream birth. I’d be playing Ohbijou’s music in the background, lights dimmed, I’d be sitting in a pool of warm water in the coziest spot in my own home and I’d welcome my baby into my arms completely unassisted. Of course, all these wonderful images flew straight out the window when we found out that we were having twins.
Unreluctantly, I came to terms with delivering in an unromantic, brightly lit, sterile hospital. I mean how will my body release the much needed love hormone (oxytocin) under these conditions? So I brought up the subject of ‘birth’ when I was hardly three months along my pregnancy with my obstetrician. I asked her if it was possible to have a birth plan. Whether we could delay cutting the umbilical cord, whether I could labour in a dimly lit room with soft music playing in the background, whether hubby and I could have some skin to skin contact with the babies once they’ve been delivered. For the second time my hopes for a natural birth were dashed with one question: “I’m sorry, are you saying you want a natural birth?’
I was gently explained the risks and complications that arise during a twin delivery and that the Doctor’s policy was to perform a non-negotiable caesarean section for anyone with more than a singleton pregnancy. So off I went in search of an obstetrician who was willing to deliver my babies naturally.
Fast forward to week 32 of my pregnancy, my last string of hope for a natural delivery was snapped when my new obstetrician asked me to set a date for an elective caesarean because both babies were breeched. “Is there any chance of them to turn as there are still two more weeks before they run out of space?” I asked desperately. She answered, “Highly unlikely.”
Throughout the pregnancy I read everything I could about hypnobirthing, gentle birthing techniques, painless childbirth, but of course nothing about caesarean procedures mainly because I didn’t even want the thought of it to enter my mind. Such is life, isn’t it? So, I had no idea what to expect and, as days drew closer to the procedure, I started to get scared – mainly due to the fear of the unknown. I didn’t want to watch a video of a caesarean procedure. I mean I won’t even be watching my own procedure so why would I want to watch someone else under the knife? I read up about what would happen but I couldn’t find anything that genuinely described an elective caesarean procedure. So I’ve penned down what I think are important things to remember when expecting a caesarean section.
If you are keen on breastfeeding your baby, a caesarean doesn’t make it more difficult. Just keep latching and don’t stress yourself out. Newborn babies only need a couple of drops of colostrum so don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have enough milk.
Everyone reacts differently to the epidural and you may not even have any side effects. But expect some shivering and itching all over your body right after the procedure, it’s completely normal. It can be very tempting to reduce your water intake to decrease trips to the bathroom but try to hydrate as much as you can because you don’t want to be constipated. Once the catheter is out, get yourself out of bed and walk, even if it’s just to the bathroom – it will speed up the recovery process tremendously. One thing that definitely helped with the discomfort at the incision site was an abdominal binder.
The best advice I can give you is to stay calm. Whether the procedure is elective or an emergency just surrender to the universe because whatever will be will be. If you’re concerned about the epidural (yes, you’ll need one) it literally feels like an ant bite. If you’re worried about being awake on the operating table, don’t be because they will also give you a relaxing agent and you will be too drowsy to know what is going on. If you’re scared of the pain during recovery, it really is not as painful as you imagine in your head.
With the amount of information at our fingertips, it’s very easy to get caught up with the latest trend of delivering at home. As beautiful as a water birth sounds sometimes not everything goes as planned and we have to keep that in mind. Nothing is scarier than being rushed into the operating theatre for an emergency caesarean procedure and never beat yourself up over not getting the birth you wanted. At the end of the day, all you need is a healthy baby in your arms all ready for you to love and cherish. It took me sometime to realise that you are an awesome mum no matter how your babies came into this world.
January Low, recent mother of twins, takes each day as it comes – because no parenting book could have prepared her for this!