The first thing that the doctor does after the birth of a cesarean baby is to remove fluid from the baby's nose and mouth through suction to allow the baby to take his very first breath. Usually once the baby is able to breath properly, the baby will let out a gentle and beloved cry to announce to the world of his arrival. After the gynecologist cuts the umbilical cord, the baby is then immediately taken aside by the nurses and cleaned off. He will also be quickly swaddled as newborn babies cannot quite regulate their body temperature yet. To keep his head warm, the caregiver will place a hat on his little head. The baby’s weight and length is measured and his vital signs are taken, and his muscle tone and reflexes are tested. If the baby passes all these initial tests and the caregivers believe that there are no reasons for concern, the baby will be taken to the delivery suite where he will wait for his mother to arrive from the operating room. Even though this routine is not as bonding as a vaginal delivery, many women nowadays choose to have a cesarean baby.
Increasing Cesarean Rates
Women who undergo a cesarean section are at considerably higher risk than those undergoing natural births. Nonetheless, cesarean rates having been steadily increasing over the past few years. According to recent studies, one in every three women will choose to have a cesarean delivery. While certain situations necessitate cesarean births, such as for prolonged labor or health issues concerning the mother or the baby, many women voluntarily choose to have a c-sections due to their fear of labor pain. In choosing c-sections, what these women often overlook however, is that while potentially several hours of labor was avoided, they will have to deal with the several weeks of post-surgical recovery of a c-section.
Some people associate the skyrocketing increase in cesarean deliveries to the extraordinary improvement in technology, which helps doctors detect early problems that the pregnancy might encounter, such as the improper positioning of the placenta, or issues related to the baby’s health. Birth professionals however, suggest that another reason for the increase in cesarean rates is the fact that women have lost faith in themselves and their natural ability to give birth.
Hospitals against Cesarean
Due to the rapid increase in cesarean procedures and the apparent disregard to their associated risks, hospitals have begun a campaign against unnecessary c-sections. They have organize courses for mothers-to-be which educate them on every phase of their pregnancy as well as birth. These courses aim to shine a positive light on giving birth naturally and try to dispel the image of birth being something terribly painful that their grandmothers used to go through. In doing so, it is hoped that future mothers will gain faith in their natural physical abilities as women to give birth naturally.
A c-section can be scheduled in advance but they are normally performed by the obstetrician no earlier than 39 weeks. This timeframe ensures that the baby has reached full term and has the best chance of being born without complications.
When do OB-GYNs usually recommend a planned c-section instead of a normal vaginal delivery?
- Your baby is positioned bottom down or in ‘breech’ position.
- You are carrying twins or more than two babies.
- The twins you are carrying are positioned differently from each other; one bottom down while the other is head first.
- Your baby is too large or if you had a previous offspring born via c-section.
When Doctors may decide on an emergency Cesarean section:
- If your cervix stopped dilating (remember that it should reach 10 centimetres or 4 inches during birth) and the contractions have not work to push the baby through the birth canal.
- If the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck posing immediate danger to his or her health.
- The fetal monitoring equipment indicates abnormal heart rate which would necessitate an immediate delivery.
- If the mother has a sexually-transmitted disease such as HIV. C-section can prevent the transmission of the virus to the baby.
- If the placenta is deformed. (A deformed placenta can deprive the child of oxygen and cause problems to both mother and child.)
Postpartum care for the baby
After delivery through c-section, the baby’s breathing, vitals, and height and weight are checked and recorded by the doctors and nurses. Thereafter, once an identification bracelet is attached to either their hand or foot, they're ready to be wrapped up and taken to the nursery.
A cesarean baby will still be closely monitored by the health providers. If necessary, the baby is placed under a heating lamp. With parental consent, the hospital can also provide the baby with vaccines against viral hepatitis.
Two to three hours after surgery, the mother can now receive the baby in her room for the first breastfeeding session. Skin to skin contact between the mother and the baby is highly encouraged at this point. It is important to keep the baby's body temperature close to that in the womb. This will ease their transition to life outside the womb.
In the following days, the baby can be brought to the mother for regular breastfeeding sessions. This will also help the mother and the baby practice the right latching position. The baby can now stay with the mother during the day and returned to the nursery in the evening. The doctor may prescribe an extended stay at the hospital of three to four days if the mother and/or child seem to have low energy. As with any major surgery, upon release from hospital, it will still take about four to six weeks for the mother to be fully recovered from a cesarean section.
Mother’s road to recovery
In the next 24 hours after birth, the mother’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and vaginal discharges are monitored. After pain during urination and postpartum contractions are also observed in the following days.
During cesarean deliveries, either epidural or general anesthesia is given to the mother. With regional anesthesia, the lower part of the mother’s body is numbed during delivery. The mother is likely to be awake to witness the birth of her child. On the other hand, general anesthesia is used in some occasions. This makes the mother unconscious during childbirth.
The anesthesia will eventually wear off and the mother will feel minimal pain at the incision area. The nurse will assess the intensity of the pain in the next few days. The gravity of pain will depend on the mother’s pain tolerance as well as the kind of anesthesia used. The pain will be manageable with the help of your OB, your partner, and your family.
The first thing you can do is take the prescribed medicines as scheduled to help ease the pain and tension in your abdominal area. Avoid taking medication when only feel intense pain as these will just confuse the body. Intermittent in the incision site may happen every now and then. This will lasts for about six weeks. You can clean the scar with warm water and soap but avoid lifting heavy objects, You can lift objects with your arms but never try to bend down.
You might be thinking that since you are breastfeeding your child, some of the medicine’s contents will go to your milk. Yes, this might happen but not in large amount and may not be harmful to the baby. Spend the next weeks recovering at home and sneak in few power naps since there will be sleepless nights as your breastfeed the baby round-the-clock.
Adapting to a New Life
To juggle recovering from surgery and taking care of a newborn requires huge effort and the least that your family and friends can do is take care of other household chores for you. The incision made in your uterus and abdominal muscles is deep and affected many layers which is why it will take time to for the body to repair this cut. It will take another week or two for the muscles to become flexible again.
The rule is, the more rest you get the faster the recovery. However, do not expect to be able to normal activities a few weeks after surgery. You can only drive, walk or climb the stairs at a fast pace only after one to months of recovering.
There might be times that you will feel depressed and pitiful about yourself after your c-section. Some women speculate that they felt anger, disappointment, and guilt when they thought about how could they have handled normal delivery rather than a cesarean delivery. You can seek help from your partner and friends and discuss these emotions. The point here is to not put the blame to anyone and the important thing is look forward to a bright future with your baby.
A Call for Reliable Partners
Women who underwent surgery will face greater adjustment aside from the fact that she is handling a new role as a mother (this applies for first time moms). If you are the mom’s partner (and reading this article, too), here are some tips to make recovery period easy for your wife, your baby, and the whole family:
- If you had the chance to make plans for this during your wife’s pregnancy, it is time to review your notes and see which ideas you can actually put into action.
- Make the most out of your work leave and spend more time her and your baby. Log out of your social media accounts and learn simple tasks like changing the nappies or sterilizing the feeding bottles.
- During breastfeeding, help your partner position yourself on the bed or on her chair. Place pillows under the arms and her lower back for added support.
- Invite your wife for morning walks but make sure to cover only short distances. You can also tag along the baby for daily dose of morning sun.
- Accompany your wife and child to their postnatal care appointments with the doctor. Try also to be attentive to what the OB says as women tend to become forgetful after birth.
- This is a good time to learn new skill like cooking. You can whip up a healthy recipe for your wife since it will hard for her to move around the kitchen or go to a restaurant.