I struggled with this post. Birthing is a very personal journey, and I find difficulty putting my experience and feelings into words, perhaps because I am very used to report writing rather than journal writing. Moreover, birthing is a topic will bore the majority of the audience. If anyone is interested, the reader is most likely a new mum awaiting the arrival of her newborn.
In the last paragraph, I also touch on how natural birth is more conducive for slimming down.
My personal birthing experience
My first and second child were delivered naturally while my third and fourth (twins} were delivered via a caesarean procedure. I heard of first-time mothers deciding between a natural delivery and a C-section. In my opinion, mothers should always go for a natural delivery if their medical condition allows, i.e. no gestational diabetes, hypertension or any other complications.
Everyone will have a different birthing experience, resulting in different preferences. Some other mothers may prefer a caesarean procedure due to their earlier unpleasant encounters with natural delivery, such as an ultra-long and painful labour.
My experience for my first and second child was very similar. They were both induced at week 38, followed by assisted delivery.
My early labour signs were regular painless contractions which started in the evening and were five mins apart. The contractions continued into the morning. I saw the gynae. He confirmed that I had dilated 1 cm and sent me off shopping. Walking helps to further induce dilation. I was scheduled for admission to the labour ward in the same evening.
I was put on a drip to help expedite contractions. The contraction pain was bearable, and I managed to catch pockets of sleep here and there that night. By the next morning, my dilation was not ideal, still far away from the 10cm benchmark. My gynae decided to manually break my water bag. This was done by inserting an apparatus through my birth canal. For my first delivery, I had no anaesthesia, and I felt the full impact of the pain. I knew I would not be able to tolerate the labour pains after the contractions intensify and thus requested for an epidural. I am sure I made the right choice as it was another 5 to 6 hours (for both babies) before I dilated fully to deliver.
At 10 cm dilated, I started pushing. However due to the epidural effect, I could not feel a thing in my tummy and couldn’t push well. Instead, I turned dizzy and nauseous. That was again due to the epidural, and I vomited halfway pushing during my first delivery. In both cases, I did not push enough, and my gynae used the forceps to pull both babies out from the birth canal.
When my son (first child) came out, he was purple, slimy and bloody. He reminded me of a lizard which I hate. The doctor placed him on my tummy, and I had to muster up enough courage to stroke him… with one finger…
After the babies arrived, I continued with pushing out the placenta. I recall my gynae spending another half an hour on the placenta and stitches down there.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in the ward recovering and waiting for the epidural to wear off. In the meantime, the nursery staffs brought me the babies for our bonding sessions. By the same evening, I was able to sit up to receive visitors and even use the toilet. I took painkillers and could tolerate the pain down there.
The twins were delivered via a C-section as one is in a breech position whereas the other is in a transverse lie, i.e. lying sideway.
My early labour signs were slightly painful contractions which woke me up at night and were five mins apart. The regular contractions died down after 4 hours of pain. I couldn’t decipher whether these are real labour signs.
Nonetheless, I decided to pay the gynae a visit. He confirmed that my dilation was 2 cm and I should have my C-section the same afternoon. I went to the labour ward to rest for the remaining morning and await for the operation scheduled at 2 pm. As I opted for half body epidural, my husband could join me in the operating theatre.
Frankly, I felt very nervous while mentally preparing for my first operation. I put on a brave front and was very chatty before the operation started. I might be the most talkative patient ever. My hubby and I did not see the operation process as a screen was set up on top of my chest to block our view. After a while, I could feel my gynae pulling and tugging my tummy. My family members had forewarned me, but I still terrified and yelled out, “Oh gosh, I can feel something, I can feel something”. That was my way of releasing my nervousness and stress even though the entire procedure was painless. The anaesthetist said I made them all nervous instead.
The twins were born 2 minutes apart. The procedure carried on for another half an hour as the doctor needed to remove the placenta, clean up my womb and stitch up the layers of skins and uterus cut open earlier. In the meantime, I felt the urge to cough. I was surprisingly unable to do so. The anaesthetist advised this is because the epidural had relaxed my chest muscle.
The operation was over, and the nurses sent me to the waiting area outside the operating theatre. It was an awful experience waiting there. My teeth began to chatter, and my entire body shivered uncontrollably. The cold was unbearable. The temperature inside the operating theatre and in the waiting area was very low to prevent bacteria growth. Although the nursing staffs provided an extra blanket for me and even blew warm air underneath the blankets. I remained cold and continued with the shivering.
The medical staffs, I don’t know who and I didn’t care anymore, decided that I should proceed to my ward immediately and therefore arranged for me to cut the queue.
My husband was already waiting at the ward for me and was shocked to find me in my pathetic state. I continued with my shivering for some time till I fell asleep.
I woke up in the evening to receive the twins one by one. The nurses had to help me to sit up carefully; still I was still under epidural. I felt nothing from the waist down. Nonetheless, I was able to breastfeed the babies and bond with them. Feeling dizzy, I rested very early the first night.
Day 2: I woke up feeling nauseous. Instead of recovering, I was unable to eat and puke for the rest of the day. The doctor continued to put me on a drip to keep me hydrated. Although the epidural was removed, I continued to feel nauseous for the rest of the afternoon. I remained in bed, immobile by the drip and the painful wound. By the evening, my both feet swelled like elephant feet as a result of the drip.
Day 3: They finally removed the drip. The nurses encouraged me to turn myself sideways on the bed and even to walk go toilet. This would help my blood circulate and speed up my recovery. However, my wound felt sore, and I had no motivation to move at all.
I thought this would be the last night in the hospital. But alas, I was wrong. I had a mild asthma attack on my third night. A slight cough is already unbearable given that my surgery was two days ago. An asthma attack caused the nurses to panic with me in the middle of the night, and a resident doctor was called in to attend to me.
Day 4: Even though I could move independently to the washroom, my gynae refused to let me go home, for fear of recurring asthma attack which could affect the wound. I stayed in the hospital for another two more nights before he approved my discharge.
It took me another three days before the pain subsided. Nonetheless, I was not able for walk very much until another week passed.
I am grateful to have help at home to take care of the twins so that I could rest properly. Whereas my two older children also behaved well and I only need to spend about an hour daily with them to go through their school work.
Getting Back to Shape
Many years ago before I was married, I debated with my friends the pros and cons of the two delivery options. I naively thought that caesarean would be a better choice as my hips would not expand since the baby would not go through the birth canal.
I was wrong. Carrying the fetus for ten months would have already resulted in the expansion of my hips. Time taken for recovery is significantly longer (at least a month) and will delay any exercise plan. Almost three weeks since the operation, I tried to do some light yoga recently and consciously avoid core exercises. However, I still felt some strain in around my wound, and my exercise only lasted 5 minutes.
I would also like to mention that during pregnancy, our body creates a form of relaxant which loosens our joints and helps us, pregnant mums, to adapt to the growing tummy. The relaxant will stay in your body for up to 4 months after pregnancy. For me, I wore some shaping garments (similar here) 1 month after delivery to help reduce my hips and rib circumference.
Natural or Caesarean
It is entirely your choice. But should you have any pre-existing complication, please heed your gynae’s advice and opt for the safest birthing option.