Wednesday, February 22, 2012

C-Sections–a Mini-Rant and My Recovery

While in general this blog’s focus is Mason I’ve decided to share a small update on my own recovery from the pregnancy and c-section.  I’ve also got a mini-rant on c-sections in general so I’m starting there.  I was talking with a mom friend at church Sunday about how many people today just don’t get that a c-section is not the ‘normal’ way to end a pregnancy.  It happens so frequently in the United States that people have gotten casual over the fact that it is major surgery. 

Yes, I know there are real, medical reasons to have a c-section (or I wouldn’t have had mine!) and I’m eternally grateful for medical interventions like a c-section when they are truly needed.  But they are not the first or best choice to end a generally healthy pregnancy, or at least they shouldn’t be.  In the U.S. 1/3 of all births end in a c-section.  That is 33 out of every 100 births.  It’s staggering.  There is no way that 1 in every 3 deliveries have a medical problem that NEEDS resolved by a c-section.  Going by that statistic I should have had a c-section long before my 7th child. 

Once a woman has a cesarean in the U.S. fewer than 1 in 10 will ever deliver vaginally again.  That is not because every subsequent pregnancy has a medical need for a c-section.  Women are not informed that even after having a c-section you and your baby in future pregnancies face fewer risks in a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) than in another c-section.  Many insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals do not encourage a VBAC because of the inconvenience and financial risk to themselves.  They’re more concerned with covering their behinds than with the healthiest, lowest-risk delivery for the mother and child.  It’s a sad statement.  And I’m not even going to attempt to address the women who elect to have c-sections without a medically indicated need for one!!  They’re just crazy.

Okay, moving on to my own recovery. 

I have healed pretty well overall and feel back to normal.  It took so much longer to feel that way than I’m used to though.  After a vaginal birth I’m walking out of the hospital at 24 hours from delivery and I feel great.  There are no narcotics for pain, or really any painkillers at all.  With my c-section I really did need to take pain medication for the first 2.5 weeks, though I got off the heavy duty stuff as fast as I could. 

My incision is doing well and I don’t notice it generally.  If I press on it there are some spots that are numb still (nerves that were cut), and it feels weird.  It’s also not centered on my lower abdomen but is more to one side.  There is a reason for that, so I’m totally grateful for it.  If you’ve read Mason’s blog you’ll remember he was breech and right up to delivery the doctor was not sure if he would have to do a vertical incision in my uterus to open me up enough to get Mason out without directly touching/pulling/pushing on his open spine.  That would have been bad for me.  But right before delivery Mason shifted sideways.  He was still breech, with his head up and legs down, but he turned enough that he was facing my side, putting his open spine facing my left side.  That meant by cutting my uterus off-centered Dr. M could reach in and pull Mason out without touching his spine and causing more damage to his nerves.

My weight – one of the most interesting parts of pregnancy for me has always been the weight gain and loss (or not) afterwards.  My gains have been as high as over 50lbs for some of my pregnancies.  With Mason I started out at a higher weight than I would have liked because Heavenly Father sent him along when my last baby Caleb was only 3 months old.  I started at 195 lbs.  The day Mason was born I weighed 216 lbs, a total gain of 21 lbs.  A month after Mason’s birth I weighed 197 lbs, having done zero exercise and eaten anything I wanted (which included lots of chocolate). 

I started using the principles from WeightWatchers at that point because I’ve had success in the past with their program.  I like WW because you can literally eat any food you want to – you just have to stay within your allotted points for the day.  If you really want that chocolate milkshake with french fries on the side go for it!  However you’ll need to fill the rest of your day with low-point foods like fresh fruits and vegetables if you want to feel full all day.  Want to know my secret?  I eat chocolate every single day.  I love chocolate chips and dark chocolate.  I make room in my daily points to have that treat because I love it. 

I’ve lost 4 lbs in the last two weeks and weighed 193 lbs this morning.  And honestly there are some days when I go over my food points out of sheer laziness or a burning desire to join my family in one last treat before bed.  I’m already wearing the clothing I was in when I got pregnant with Mason.  Of course there is a lot of toning and weight loss yet to do to get my 5'5" self healthy.

Mason is 6 weeks old and I’ve officially been approved to get back to life as normal - lifting kids, doing the mom things that come with a houseful of children, and getting this body healthier (exercise!) before the next pregnancy comes along.  Today I started my exercise with some cardio fun.  I turned on Netflix and while I watched part of an episode of The Biggest Loser I walked, moved, did crunches, and generally worked up a sweat.  I have not set specific exercise plans yet other than to exercise at least 5 days a week for 30 minutes this first month.  I have some dvds I enjoy using (Walk Away the Pounds tops the list).  I also have T-Tapp dvds and was just getting into them when I began Mason’s pregnancy.  I can’t wait to start using those again as they’ll really help me focus in on strengthening my core muscles that have been stretched out like crazy from carrying another sweet baby.

My health goal is simple:

  I want to be healthier today than I was yesterday. 

I want to be choosing behaviors daily that will bring my body health, energy, and strength to be Mommy.  My children have so much energy and I want to be able to keep up.

I want my body to be strong and ready to give life when Heavenly Father is ready to send another baby our way.  Because children are blessings from God!


  1. I love your moderate outlook toward exercise--the goal is to become healthy, not a skinny waif. :)

    Also, have you read Pushed by Jennifer Block? It is an amazing book that deals with childbirth in America, and is an amazing eye-opener about something that we all should already know--namely, our bodies were meant to give birth without intervention, and only when something goes wrong do we need any. I just wish it had come out before the birth of my first son!

  2. I'm glad you are healing well! Jack is almost two and I still have some numbness and tenderness near my incision site. I hope the next hospital will do a vbac, not all of them allow for it. It's really sad and frustrating that the our litigious society has made it so necessary for doctors to protect themselves at the expense of their patients.

    Don't be surprised if during your workouts you feel like your incision is opening up again. It's not, When I was doing Jillian's Yoga I felt like there was ripping inside me, but it was just scar tissue (yes, it was ripping, but it's good, you don't want that scar tissue growing where it shouldn't). After a couple times of the yoga it didn't happen anymore. But even now if I do something different it can happen, but it wasn't nearly as bad as that first time.

  3. I'm with you Tristan! How anyone can elect to have a c-section is beyond me! And I've had 3!

    My first was after 2 days of being in labor and the baby was in danger leading to an emergency (not planned) c-section. My 2nd was after I spent 12 hours trying to have my baby after being induced due to gestational diabetes. Baby ended up in state of distress and I again had to have an emergency c-section (being cut open twice with complications both for me and baby). We both would have died without the c-section. Due to mentioned complications, the doctors in my clinic refused to let me go into labor with my third pregnancy and a c-section was scheduled early to prevent being in labor due to health risks. However, even with the early schedule, I went into labor while they were getting me ready for the c-section causing panic with the entire medical staff.

    The healing process was longest with the last and I hated having to have c-sections with my children. I am grateful for c-sections because I would not have 3 wonderful children without them, but they are not to be taken lightly.

    I know people who don't even consider a vaginal birth and just schedule a c-section for convenience. I think it is crazy and unwise.

  4. Glad you are healing well Tristan! One of the biggest reasons for the increase in C-sections are elected inductions. They are inducing because it is more convenient for the DR. and the mother, even in first pregnancies. If the baby and the mama's body is not ready, the labor does not progress and they go in an do a C-section and as you noted the mothers will be talked into scheduling C-sections for their other deliveries even though there never was a medical reason to do one in the first place. There are some real medical reasons for inductions, just like there are some real reasons for C-sections, but it is being way overused and most of the time not medically necessary.

  5. I like your health goals. I love dark chocolate too. We happen to live close to a little market that sells the best dark chocolate from all over the world.

  6. I had a c-section for my second because of the horrid vaginal delivery that was my first! All I could think about was you saying how after you had Caleb you were home within 24 hours and not even feeling like you'd had a baby. I was so jealous and truly couldn't even imagine that. :) But the c-section was way easier on me than my vaginal delivery was so yes - thank God for modern science!

    If no one's told you yet, Jen has an exercise class we're doing every Tuesday at the church. We change it up each week - sometimes we just walk and talk, sometimes Amy leads a yoga class or we do workout videos. And kids are welcome!

  7. C-sections are a serious matter. It took me over a year to feel normal again and even now if I physically over do it, my c-section area will throb. My SIL is due in 2 months. I informed her about how hospitals and doctors are doing more and more c-sections. I think ladies should be educated about this and about how HF made our bodies to deliver vaginally. I know that in some cases C-Sections are most def. in order, but I think they are being done out of convenience and for $$$$

  8. Amen to the c-section rant. And i always gain 40 lbs with each of my pregnacies, i think every womans body is so different!

    I just wanted to share this post i just wrote because I thought of you, and quoted you, as I was writting it. Best of wishes with the exercise plan!

  9. Yes, after my 1st c-section, which was medically necessary (unfortunately), I was stuck. I could hardly find a Dr. willing to deliver vaginally, and support me. So, I was pushed into having 3 more c-sections for the next 3 children. I personally cannot do another c-section, and so the Dr.'s say so too. We won't be having any more, but it breaks my heart all the time that the only reason is because of that. I wish the Dr.'s weren't so quick to jump into the c-section route too. So glad it was your 7th! I always dreamed of delivering myself, and wanted that experience.

    Glad you're healing well!

  10. I wish I would have had a C-section. Despite the fact that I was fit and a dancer when I was younger, my uterus pelvic ligaments, and vaginal wall did not hold up very well. Everything dropped and NO amount of Kegels could make a difference. Laugh, cough, sneeze = pee was the story of my life. Finally at age 37, I had the bladder sling, hysterectomy, and rectocele. A rectocele is a repair made to the posterior wall of the vagina. Well, I haven't wet my pants since June 2004, but I still have some vaginal prolapse. A C-section would have prevented this.

  11. My first was an emergency C-section, for which I am grateful, but you are right. Recovering from major abdominal surgery is a major pain, and people do tend to downplay it. It was almost a year before my abdomen was close to normal again.

    I fought hard for my 3 VBACs. And was utterly surprised by the "matter-of-fact" way in which other mothers would talk about their multiple if this was somehow just the way things are. Recovering from natural childbirth was much much easier.

  12. I might be called on the fence on elective c-sections. I don't think they should be scheduled for convenience sake, but my 3rd one was scheduled early on, but that was because we already knew I was going to need one.

    My first was an emergency one. The second I would have elected in the beginning because the risk of rupture was very scary to me. It turned out I needed to have the baby 4 weeks early due to my deteriorating health, and because of the previous c-section an induction wasn't possible. The third was because the health issues started very early in pregnancy, and we knew I'd not make it "full term". My doctor set a goal for treatment to get me to 37 weeks and we scheduled the c-section early on. It helped having that goal in mind, since I was admitted to the hospital at least once a week.

    Each c-section was easier then the last for healing for me. Most of the pain with the last one I think was twinging from the tubal. However, the last was my favorite since I was put under general, after the spinal failed. (My doctor apologized, but you know, I had said to Heavenly Father that I did not want to be awake for the surgery, so I think it was an answer to my prayer.)


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